Club sports to test grit this weekend

By James Cantagallo

Club teams will return to action this weekend looking for victory, taking both the field and the ice.


The Div. II hockey team will look to continue its hot start to the season versus a struggling University of Illinois squad.

The Huskies will play 7 p.m. Friday and 5:30 p.m. Saturday at the Fox Valley Ice Arena in Geneva.

NIU (4-2) has played well on the power play and penalty kill so far. Last weekend the Huskies scored four of their goals while on the penalty kill.

“Special teams is a big part of the game,” said junior forward Justin Rucinski. “It’s pretty much where every one of our games has been make or break this year.”

Even though Illinois (1-5) has struggled, NIU will be in for a tough challenge.

“Robert Morris was very good at isolating our guys on the boards; U of I is going to do the same thing. U of I will be very similar to Robert Morris,” said head coach Chuck Rinaldo. “We just need to find a way to create space from the battles on the boards. If we can win the small battles, we should be able to create some good offense.”

The team will also have more motivation this week, playing in pink jerseys for breast cancer awareness.

“It is a great thing, a lot of teams do it, it’s just awesome to be a part of,” Rucinski said. “I hope a lot of people come out and donate to a great cause.”

Men’s rugby

The men’s rugby team will return to action this week after a much-needed bye week.

NIU (1-2) will head to Mount Pleasant, Mich., to play the Central Michigan University Exiles on Saturday. In their last match, the Huskies won their first game, but they had to deal with several injuries. The bye week allowed NIU to heal some injuries and improve its fitness.

“We want to be the most fit on the field, especially by the end of the game,” said rugby president Pat Caulfield. “We can also get a little more aggressive. We need to hit people back harder than they hit us. We have some tough games coming up and we want to prove we can hang with the best in the division.”

The Huskies feel good coming off of their first win against Ball State and they are looking to carry it over to this week.

“We are looking to take it to Central Michigan,” said team captain Osama Shayeb.