NIU D-I hockey drop pair to Pride

A 3-2 loss in a shootout Friday and a 6-1 loss Saturday, both to Purdue Northwest, keep the Huskies winless


Courtesy of NIU Hockey

Junior defenseman Drake Gieseke handles the puck during NIU’s Sept. 24 game against Purdue Northwest. The two losses to the Pride put NIU at 0-4 to start the season.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Editor

DeKALB — The NIU Division I hockey program lost to the Division II Purdue University Northwest Pride 3-2 Friday and 6-1 Saturday.

During Friday’s contest at home in West Dundee, the first period saw no scoring from either team. The Pride drew first blood with a goal from sophomore forward Brandon McNeal in the early stages of the second period.

NIU quickly responded with two unanswered scores from junior forward Mason Ihrke and senior defenseman Robert Apter. The goals allowed the Huskies to claim a 2-1 lead heading into the third period.

Purdue Northwest tied up the score with a goal from junior forward Brandon Prodoehl that was assisted by sophomore forward Craig Herman. With the teams tied at 2-2 at the end of three periods, the match was sent into overtime.

Like the game’s first period, the sudden-death overtime period went scoreless, resulting in a three-player shootout between the squads.

Both teams made their first attempts with scores from Pride senior forward Cole Bocock and NIU’s Robert Apter. After neither team made their second attempt, the shootout was tied up at 1-1. 

Herman of Purdue Northwest broke the tie with a shot into the net on their third attempt. NIU’s final attempt by junior forward Rodahn Evans was unsuccessful, giving the Pride the 3-2 victory.

Travelling to the Kube Sports Complex in Hammond, Indiana, for the final game of the series, NIU was quite challenged in scoring. In a physical contest, the Huskies were able to apply significant pressure to the Pride but were met with resistance from PNW sophomore goaltender Kyle Fritz. Fritz had 26 saves in the match.

NIU was unable to keep up with the Pride’s offensive attack as freshman forward Sam Bourdages and sophomore defenseman Brett Bandstra each had a pair of goals in a six-point outing for Purdue Northwest.

The lone score from the Huskies came from freshman Luke Marks during the second period of the match, which brought the score to 2-1. The goal marked the first of Marks’ Huskie career.

Despite the sweep, head coach Nicholas Madonia noted that the team had times where it played better than others.

“It was a tale of two teams,” Madonia. “On Friday, we played pretty well. We probably deserved to win. We just lost in a shootout. On Saturday, we just got dominated. It showed on the score sheet.”

With the losses, the Huskies fell to a record of 0-4 on the 2021-2022 campaign after suffering defeat to the John Carroll University Blue Streaks last weekend in the season-opening series. The Huskies lost by scores of 6-2 on Sept. 17 and 4-3 on Sept. 18.

Following a shaky start to his first season at the helm of the Division I team, Madonia plans to work with the team on improving its ability to take advantage of scoring opportunities.

“We need to work on our goal scoring,” said Madonia. “We generated a lot of chances through our first four games. We just haven’t scored enough.”

The Huskies return to the ice at 9:25 p.m. Friday as they play the first of back-to-back games against the Western Michigan University Broncos at Wings West Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, Mich.