Penalties prove costly for the Huskies as they lose in their first division one match

By Matt Boecker

DeKALB — In their inaugural game at the division-one level, the Huskies started hot but couldn’t keep the momentum going in their 3-2 loss Friday to Western Michigan University at the Canlan Ice Center in West Dundee.

NIU jumped out of the gate, getting first period goals from first-year forwards Nick Gonzalez and Rodahn Evans to get a 2-0 lead.

Gonzalez broke the ice, scoring the first goal of the game. Although a first-year player, Gonzalez said his lack of experience did not hold him back.

“It felt really good,” Gonzalez said. “Being a younger kid, [my teammates] like to chirp me about [my age]. So it feels good.”


Sophomore goaltender Chad Dodero played well for the Huskies, killing off an abundance of Bronco power-plays throughout the night. Dodero’s sharp play helped keep the Huskies in the game.

When asked about fighting off a string of first period penalties, Dodero said he credits a strong lineup, while being laser-focused himself.

“I think we have a good group of penalty killers, and they did a good job of keeping them to the outside for the most part,” Dodero said. “As long as they keep them to the outside, I can see [the puck] well.”



Unfortunately, the Huskies couldn’t capitalize on their power-play opportunities for the remainder of the game. They had some golden opportunities to start the second period when WMU took three consecutive penalties. NIU also found itself in the penalty box all night long.

WMU would go on to score three unanswered goals and win the game 3-2. Broncos defenseman Corey Siwula scored two goals, both of which were in the third period. 

NIU Head Coach Mike Rucinski said although his team had a lot of penalties, he was happy with their first game at the division-one level.

“I think it gave our boys a lot of confidence, the fact that we competed,” Rucinski said. “I think when both teams were even strength, we were fine. We actually controlled most of the play.”

The Huskies have a chance to bounce back when they play 4:20 p.m. Saturday against the Broncos.

Rucinski said game two will see some adjustments, including staying out of the penalty box. 

“We need to figure out a way to compete, yet, stay out of the penalty box,” Rucinski said. “If we do that, I think we’ll be fine.”