NIU hockey team ready to drop puck on 2010 season

By Korey Peterson

Hockey fans rejoice, the wait is finally over.

The puck drops for NIU hockey at 8 p.m. tonight at the Hoffman Estates Ice Arena. The game is the first of a two game set against Marquette with Saturday’s game at 9 p.m. at the Leafs Ice Centre in West Dundee.

The Huskies are looking to rebound from a disappointing season last year in which they narrowly missed the playoffs and finished with a 17-19 record last season.

“The expectations this year are a lot higher,” said junior center Mike Sible. “Those expectations come from outside of the club, too.”

18 of the team’s 39 games will be American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) conference matchups. The schedule is highlighted by an outdoor game on Dec. 4 that will be played in Elmhurst against Robert Morris University at Peoria. According to, there have only been six outdoor college hockey games since 2001.

The team will add about 14 new players while returning just as many. Senior Mike Reporto led the team last season with 48 points. He had 13 goals and 35 assists. Sible was the second leading scorer with 41 points and the leader in goals with 22.

The team added some talent this year, most notably in the goaltending department. Sophomore Craig Haa is a mammoth in net, standing 6’4″. He transferred to NIU from Eastern Michigan University, which is a Division I team, where NIU is a Division II team. Haa had a solid summer, posting a 9-2 record with a 3.72 GAA in his summer collegiate league.

“This seems to be the best crop of players as far as where we have pulled them from,” Sible said. “Not only do we have a D-1 goalie, we also have some former AAA players.”

Head coach Greg Chromy plans to use this speed and finesse to the team’s advantage.

“With our speed, we should be able to push them up the ice pretty quick,” Chromy said. “We’ll see if we can’t put some goals in quickly on them and make them play more defensive hockey than they’re used to.”