Hockey heads to break after tough loss against Iowa

Sophomore forward Brandon Ledyard gears up for a shot Set. 27 during an eventual 3-2 loss against Western Michigan University at the Canlan Ice Center in West Dundee.

DeKALB — The Hockey D1 team couldn’t keep up with the University of Iowa’s DII team on Friday night at Canlan Ice Sports in West Dundee.

Despite playing its most disciplined game of the year, taking only four penalties, NIU didn’t have an answer for the Iowa offense, losing 6-1. Iowa was able to capitalize on their chances while preventing NIU from getting into a flow offensively.

“They were a good skating team and a lot of times that can cause some havoc and that seems to be what happened last night,” NIU Head Coach Mike Rucinski said.

Iowa also played an incredibly disciplined game, taking only two penalties.

The Hawkeyes special teams excelled as well, scoring a power play goal as well as a shorthanded goal.

The lone NIU goal came from first-year forward Nick Gonzalez, his third of the season, making him the team leader in goals through five games. Gonzalez’s goal was assisted by first-year forward Rodahn Evans and sophomore defenseman Alec Porzondek. 

Evans and Gonzalez have been the catalysts for NIU’s offense, and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by the coaching staff.

“I’ve been very impressed, they come to play every night, that’s for sure,” Rucinski said. “Hopefully, the rest of the boys can pick up on that, and they can set the tone so everyone can follow along and get on board with them because they come to play.”

The Huskies will have a few weeks to rest and regroup, and won’t be back on ice until they face Waldorf University. NIU will travel to Albert Lea, Minnesota where the game is set for 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Albert Lea City Arena.

The large gap in the schedule was caused by Lindenwood University-Belleville dropping out of the ACHA’s newly formed Midwest College Hockey league.

Rucinski says the focus will be on the basics over this long stretch without games.

“It’s going to be a little bit of a challenge, for sure,” Rucinski said. “It’s a long break, especially during the season. The focus is going to be getting back to work and getting better, and start eliminating some breakdowns. We made some progress as far as, we only took four penalties last night, which is a far cry from what’s been happening. It’s just about getting back to basics and getting better.”

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