Hockey suffers second loss to experienced Illini team

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB  Saturday the Huskies faced the University of Illinois in the second of two weekend non-conference games in American College Hockey Association play.

NIU fell to the Illini 11-1, as Illinois posted double-digit goals for the second time against the Huskies. With the loss, NIU moves to 2-9 on the season, including 1-3 on the road.

The Illini were ranked 12th in the ACHA rankings released Nov. 13 and now hold a 10-4-1-1 record.

The Illini did a good job of controlling the puck, allowing them to find twine often while minimizing any offensive opportunities the Huskies looked for.

Early in the second period, the Huskies trailed 3-0 before first-year forward Nick Lata scored for the Huskies.

Assisting on the goal was first-year forward Noah Carlock, his first of the season. 

Minutes later, the Illini retook a three-goal lead. U of I would tack on four more goals before the second period ended, ultimately giving it the home victory.

In the third period, the 12th-ranked Illini scored four goals, giving them the 11-1 victory. 

Rucinski said it’s been tough keeping the team’s morale up in the locker room, but the coaches are preaching to just trust the process.

“A lot of these kids are coming from very successful teams,” Rucinski said. “We’re sticking with the mentality of, ‘You have to learn how to lose before you can win’. That’s what we’re going through now. We’re having to see how these kids respond to the adversity.”

The Huskies look to bounce back as they hit the road for two games Friday and Saturday against 23rd-ranked Illinois State University for two Midwest College Hockey conference matches. 

Both games are set for 7 p.m. at the Grossinger Motors Arena in Bloomington.