Division I hockey splits series to open 2022

Huskies earn first win of 2022 in Friday’s 7-4 victory over Roosevelt University.

By Skyler Kisellus, Sports Reporter

DeKALB — NIU’s Division I hockey team kicked off 2022 with a 7-4 victory on the road against the Roosevelt University Lakers Friday, followed by a 7-2 defeat to close out the series.

Friday: Huskies 7, Lakers 4

The Huskies drew first blood against the Lakers with a score by junior forward Hunter Wahl in the the fourth minute. Scoring remained silent for the next seven minutes before NIU found the back of the net twice in a span of 36 seconds. The latter score, coming from junior forward Nicolas Gonzalez, put the Huskies up 3-0 in the 13th minute.

Roosevelt put up its first goal of the game after senior defenseman Turner Ceperitis scored in the 18th minute. The Huskies responded with junior forward Randy Apter’s second goal of the game with 12 seconds left in the period.

The first 13 minutes of the second period saw no scoring until junior forward Rodahn Evans scored his 12th goal of the season to put NIU up 4-1. Lakers freshman forward Griffin Lehet followed up with Roosevelt’s second score 15 minutes into the period. The Huskies closed out the game’s second period with the 4-2 advantage.

The third period saw the Lakers outscore the Huskies, beginning with a scoring shot from Roosevelt senior forward Anthony Trankina in the game’s 43rd minute. Laker freshman defenseman Cade Swygert notched Roosevelt’s final score with 7:40 remaining to make it 6-4 in NIU’s favor.

NIU’s Evans closed out scoring with an empty net score with 30 seconds remaining on the game clock. Sophomore goaltender Benjamin Vutci made the start manning the net for the Huskies Friday. The Michigan native spent 59:30 on the ice, recording 33 saves on 37 shots toward the goal.

The Huskies left the arena Friday with the 7-4 victory, their first since Dec. 4 against Illinois State University.

Saturday: Lakers 7, Huskies 2

The second day of action saw the Lakers begin Saturday’s scoring affair. Roosevelt sophomore forward Zachary Brumm scored for the first time of the season, giving Roosevelt a 1-0 lead in the third minute. This would be the only score of the opening period.

Roosevelt followed with another goal, this time by freshman defenseman Nathan Brown, in the eighth minute of the second period. The Huskies returned the favor after junior defenseman Alec Porzondek gave NIU its first score of the day, making the score 2-1 in the ninth minute. The Lakers controlled scoring for the remainder of the period, scoring three straight between the 10th and 14th minutes.

The Huskies’ only other score of the day came from Apter in the seventh minute of the third period. Roosevelt would bring scoring to a close Saturday with two straight goal shots, the final coming with 19 seconds left to play.

NIU sent out senior goaltender Brian Eisele in place of Vutci for Saturday’s game. Eisele notched 38 saves on 45 shots, spending a total of 59:41 on the ice.

NIU finished their road series against Roosevelt with a 7-2 loss, tying the teams at 1-1 for the series. With the defeat, the Huskies’ overall record drops to 3-17 and their Midwest College Hockey Conference record sits at 1-9.

The Huskies will now look ahead to their Jan. 28 contest against the Illinois State University Redbirds. The first game of the series is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee.