Men’s club hockey stunned in home opener, lose 5-4 in overtime

 

For this year’s DePaul men’s hockey team, there was an unfamiliar kind of home opener.

The Blue Demons, starting off this season without big contributor D2 ACHA Select Team member Billy Allen, lost their first home opener in three years, Friday night against NIU in a 5-4 overtime loss. NIU had lost 11 straight to DePaul, only scoring 30 goals in those 11 games as opposed to DePaul’s 104.

There was only one shootout goal scored against Anthony Natali, DePaul’s senior goalie, by NIU’s Rob Bock. That was not a reflection of the game at all, however, as DePaul’s offense looked great, but NIU came out with a consistent intensity that resulted in their six penalties.

“We worked pretty hard, but we need to work on the little things,” said Steve Brooks, sophomore defender. “It hurts to lose in a shootout – at the same time, we stuck to it and it shows promise for the rest of the season.”

Defensive miscues haunted the Blue Demons all game, with all of NIU’s goals coming off a botched clearance or a mishandled puck. The most harmful of all came on the tying goal with 3:36 left in the game, when a missed clearance turned into a scrum right in front of Natali. The result was the puck somehow finding its way in the back of the net to eventually put the game into overtime.

While the Huskies’ opportunities came to them, DePaul’s goals mostly came off of flair, most notably Mario Carbonaro’s goal off an intercepted clearance with 15:11 left in the second period. The forward kicked the puck to himself to fake out NIU goalie Alex Hare after weaving through two defenders.

Rossobillo also showed off some ability with a snipe from the blue line past Hare in the second period, which was also the last goal DePaul would score. Other goals came from senior forward Cody Staehley and junior forward Chris Volpe.

Natali played a very good game as well, making some brilliant glove and pad saves. There weren’t any moments when he was beaten, since NIU’s goals seemed to just trickle in from Huskies poke checks. The most expressive moment of Natali’s skill came from a save off a breakaway during overtime.

While the scoring efforts were impressive, the absences of last year’s stars were apparent. DePaul lost four of its leaders in points, who scored a combined 191 points last season.

“You can’t replace those guys from last year, but we can still build up the fast young guys with team chemistry to try to fill those holes,” said Carbonaro.

Brooks believes that the void can be replaced: “We need to play more of a team game and work together. We can’t rely on a few players this year.”