From Northern Star
By Alex Crowe
ROMEOVILLE – Just two days after breaking old habits and finding its first win of the season, NIU Hockey (1-16-2, 0-10 MCH) was embarrassed in the final game of the ACHA Showcase by No. 17 ranked Arizona State University (8-8) by a final score of 10-2.
The Sun Devils and Huskies were even at 2 goals apiece after the first period, but 8 more goals through the final 40 minutes, which included a hat trick from sophomore forward Ryan Robinson, sealed an easy win for ASU.
“We got to figure out how to play a full 60 (minutes),” freshman forward Micah Maldonado said. “You can’t win playing 40 minutes of hockey, it’s a 60-minute game. Overall, I thought it was just a tough one.”
MIXING AND MATCHING
For the final game of the weekend, NIU made one swap to its lineup. Maldonado, who is tied for second on the team in goals, was moved to the blue line to play defense. Fifth-year defenseman Alec Porzondek moved up to Maldonado’s forward spot.
“Micah already slows the game down so well as a forward. It was kind of a no brainer to let him work on defense,” assistant coach Jeremy Bower said. “He can quarterback from back there, and we need to use the points more, and I think Micah is one of our better shooters. It’s hopes that guys will want to get him the puck and get him some shots from back there.”
Maldonado said playing defense was an adjustment, but the change helped the team on its defensive zone exits.
“Me moving there, there are some things to work on, but I thought it was good,” Maldonado said. “We were getting pucks out a lot. That’s the key to goals is playing in our own zone strong, getting pucks out – I thought we were a lot better with that.”
TALE OF TWO TEAMS
In a game that turned into a blowout, the Huskies battled the Sun Devils to a 2-2 tie after the first 20 minutes. In the period, the Huskies also kept the shot totals close at 16-15 for ASU.
After the opening period, the game fell apart for NIU, as they allowed 8 more goals in the final 40 minutes.
“We started out buzzing. We were ready to go,” Bower said. “We have a tough time in the second period, but even with that, even with a quote unquote bad period, or not our best period, we only let in three. We were right there.”
Maldonado said the low energy out of the gate in the second period set the tone for the rest of the game.
“We came out flat in the first five of the second. That was the difference,” Maldonado said. “They ended up putting one early, just a momentum killer. So, we got to figure out how to play to our advantage here.”
The Huskies finished the ACHA Showcase, which saw multiple ranked teams participating, with a 1-2 record.
Maldonado looked at his team’s performance against high-quality opponents as a positive.
“We showed that we can hang with these guys,” Maldonado said. “Going into league play, we just need to have that momentum and carry it on, and I think we’ll have a great second half.”
The Huskies take next weekend off for Thanksgiving then take on Purdue Northwest in a home-and-home series on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2.
(Originally published at https://northernstar.info/110904/sports/hockey-burned-by-sun-devils/)