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Northern Star

The Student News Site of Northern Illinois University

Northern Star

Hockey to participate in ACHA Showcase

Top teams in country travel to Romeoville
Courtesy NIU Hockey
Freshman defenseman Ethan Koval rushes the puck through the neutral zone in NIU Hockey’s game on Oct. 13. The Huskies will face Alabama, Rhode Island and Arizona State in the ACHA Showcase this weekend. (Courtesy of NIU Hockey)

DeKALB – A difficult challenge is on the horizon for NIU Hockey (0-14-2, 0-10 MCH), who are taking a break from conference play this weekend to participate in the ACHA Showcase event in Romeoville. 

The Huskies will face three opponents within the three-day, eight-team event – opponents they normally do not see in a season: No. 56 ranked University of Alabama (3-11), No. 26 ranked University of Rhode Island (7-6) and No. 17 ranked Arizona State University (7-6). 

Other teams participating in the showcase include No. 1 ranked and defending national champion Minot State University, No. 4 University of Nevada, Las Vegas, No. 11 Ohio University and No. 25 Illinois State University. 

With so many top teams participating in the showcase, the Huskies have touched on special teams and battle drills in practice to prepare for the stiff competition ahead. 

“Really trying to work on some battle stuff to make sure we’re keeping our competition levels high,” said freshman defenseman Ethan Koval. “Just brushing up on power play and PK stuff because special teams is very important at the end of the day.” 

NIU is fresh off back-to-back losses to Illinois State. The Huskies hung with the Redbirds, playing to a 2-2 tie in the 2nd period of Saturday’s game. 

Koval said playing a team that is participating in the showcase closely gives the team confidence they can turn some heads. 

“It’s definitely a confidence booster to see that we can hang very well with a nationally ranked team,” Koval said. “It honestly amps us up a bit going into this (showcase) because we know that we’re going to have a chance to really pull off some wins here.” 

The showcase is the final weekend of games before Thanksgiving break, and Koval said finding a win at a high-level event just before a break could be a big breakthrough in confidence for the rest of the season. 

“It (winning) would be huge for us right now, especially going into a little tiny Thanksgiving break,” Koval said. “We’re going to get some time alone, time to recuperate and think about how the season has been going and how we want to continue after the break. So, if we can pull out a win or two this weekend, I think it would be huge for us for the rest of the season.”

The Huskies kick off the ACHA Showcase against Alabama at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Canlan Ice Sports in Romeoville. 

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