Huskie defense has strong showing against Waldorf, Dodero stops 36 shots


First-year forward Austin Walny (left) and senior forward Brad Krauser run a puck down the ice Nov. 8 against McKendree University.

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — A strong performance from NIU’s defense was enough to land the Huskies a win over the Waldorf University Warriors Saturday.

With the 2-1 victory, NIU improves to 4-18 on the season and 4-7 in Midwest College Hockey play.

Sophomore goaltender Chad Dodero had a strong performance between the pipes, recording 36 saves. A majority of the saves came in the second period when NIU found itself facing three penalties.

“Just as always, in any game or any situation, our goalie has to be our best penalty killer and [Dodero] was tonight for sure,” Head Coach Mike Rucinski said.

In the first period, Waldorf opened scoring three minutes into the game. Ten minutes later, first-year forward Austin Walny tickled the twine while NIU was on the power play. Assisting on the goal were first-year forwards Rodahn Evans and Hunter Wahl. After one period the game was knotted at 1-1.

The scoring came to a halt in the second period. NIU had chances to score on a power play, but couldn’t convert its opportunities. Waldorf had three chances on the power play, but the Warriors also couldn’t take advantage. After two periods of play the game remained tied at one goal apiece. 

The physicality ramped up in the third period with the Warriors taking six penalties to NIU’s four. While killing time off a Waldorf power play, sophomore forward Tyler Gut scored a shorthanded goal with 12:11 left in the game. 

“[The goal is] a great reward for [Gut’s] hard work, and I’m glad he was able to reap the benefits of it,” Rucinski said.

There was also a lot of pushing and shoving after the whistle throughout the third period. Evans said the Huskies are better equipped for after the whistle physicality in comparison to Waldorf.

“We definitely have the bigger bodies right now because a lot of their team is injured,” Evans said. “A lot of ours is too, but they have more injured. So we’re definitely going to be able to shove a lot more than they’ll shove.”

Waldorf pulled its goalie to end the game, but NIU’s defense didn’t falter. Gut’s goal would prove to be the game-winner. Evans said it felt amazing for the team to finally get the monkey off its back after going winless since Nov. 22.

The Huskies have the chance to sweep the Warriors when the teams meet Feb. 2 at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee. The puck will drop at 4:10, and the game can be streamed on NIU Hockey’s Facebook page.