Hockey edges Waldorf in its second victory of the season

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — The Huskies bounced back Saturday with a nail-biting 5-4 victory against Waldorf University after a 4-1 loss Friday to the Warriors.

The Huskies traveled to Albert Lea, Minnesota where they split two weekend matches at the Albert Lea City Arena.

After the first period, Waldorf was up 1-0, but it could not keep its foot on the gas, allowing four Huskies to find the back of the net in the second period.

With four goals in the second period, the Huskies scored more goals than any other game this season.

First-year forwards Osman Cholak and Mason Ihrke and first-year defenseman Tyler Berry got their first goals of the season. First-year forward Nick Gonzalez scored the fourth goal of the game, beating the buzzer in the second period.

Head Coach Mike Rucinski said scoring goals is what gives teams momentum. However, for the Huskies, the problem is they haven’t been scoring, according to the second year head coach.

“I think that has, in a nutshell, been the problem, failure to score,” Rucinski said. “I’ve said all along, even the games we’ve lost, we played well and if we just scored a goal anywhere along the line, it makes for a whole different period.”

NIU would carry its momentum into the third period as first-year forward Rodahn Evans lit the lamp for his third goal of the season, giving the Huskies a 5-1 lead.

However, NIU would take its foot off the gas, allowing three Warrior goals in the third period, trimming the lead to one with 1:27 left in the game. Waldorf pulled its goaltender to add the extra attacker, but NIU stood firm as the Huskies went on to win. Rucinski said he was optimistic the team could learn from this experience and moving forward be better prepared to close team’s out in late game situations.

NIU’s penalty kill shined Friday and Saturday, killing off all but one of Waldorf’s 12 power-play opportunities in both games.

“Obviously it’s a strong point,” Rucinski said. “The boys have been working hard at it and that’s what you have to do when you’re shorthanded. In a perfect world, you aren’t shorthanded too often so everyone can stay fresh.”

NIU moves to 2-5 on the season and 2-2 in Midwest College Hockey play.

NIU returns home next weekend for a pair of games against McKendree University. The first game is set for 7:50 p.m. Friday, and the second is set for 4:50 p.m. Saturday at the Canlan Ice Center in West Dundee.

NIU’s two home games precede a six-game away stretch starting Nov. 15 against the University of Illinois through Dec. 7 against the University of Toledo.