Hockey loses two versus Midland

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

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.

Skyler Kisellus, Assistant Sports Editor

DeKALB — The NIU Division I hockey program suffered back-to-back losses against Midland University, losing 4-1 Friday and 5-2 Saturday on the road in Fremont, Neb.

Friday: Warriors 4, Huskies 1

After the first period of the game went scoreless, the Warriors stuck first with a goal from sophomore forward Ondrej Blaha in the third minute of the second period. Midland sophomore forward Ryan Donovan followed suit with another score in the 12th minute to put the Warriors ahead 2-0.

Approximately six minutes later, Blaha scored once again on a power play to put Midland at a 3-0 advantage after two periods.

“Blaha is a really good hockey player,” head coach Nicholas Madonia said. “We did our best to slow him down but he’s one of the better players in the league. Midland’s a really good hockey team and I think we gave them a tough weekend.”

Four minutes into the third period of Friday’s game, NIU put up their first point with a goal from senior forward Brandon Ledyard on a power play.

Midland responded with the final score of the game as junior forward Mason Cirone found the back of the net with less than three minutes remaining.

Saturday: Warriors 5, Huskies 2

In the final game of their series against Midland, NIU was without two key players after junior forward Austin Walny and freshman forward Luke Marks suffered injuries in Friday’s game.

The Huskies were engaged in a scoring shootout during the first period. The Huskies scored first Saturday with a goal from senior forward Tyler Gut in the second minute of play.

Midland’s Blaha answered with his third goal of the series to even the score in the sixth minute before NIU’s Ledyard struck back four minutes later with a go-ahead score to give NIU a 2-1 lead.

The Huskies remained ahead until the 16th minute, when Blaha scored yet again to tie the teams at two points each.

“(Saturday) started off pretty quick,” Madonia said. “We were a little bit short handed in that game but I thought our first period was really good.”

NIU did not register another score for the remainder of the game. Midland sophomore defenseman Jack Royer added two consecutive scores for the Warriors in the second period of play, doing so in a span of two minutes.

In the final period of the game, Midland registered one more goal from Donovan to end the game with a 5-2 victory.

NIU senior goaltender Brian Eisele manned the net for both games against the Warriors. Eisele saved 40 of 44 attempts by Midland on Friday and saved 29 of 31 on Saturday.

Both squads struggled with discipline throughout the series, combined for 48 penalties on Friday and 16 on Saturday. Players were penalized for actions such as roughing, unsportsmanlike conduct, slashing and cross checking.

“The refs did not have much control of the game,” Madonia said. “Midland was a physical team. There was just a lot going on.”

With the losses, NIU’s overall record falls to 1-9 and their record in conference play also drops to 0-4.

NIU will return home for their next matchup when they host the McKendree University Bearcats at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee. The first game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday.