Just when things were looking up for the OPRF Hockey Club two perennial teams came knocking last week to bring the Huskies back down to earth.
OPRF redeemed itself from a loss to Hinsdale Central the previous week by tying a tough Fremd squad 1-1 on Thursday. But the upswing was brief as top-ranked Naperville North downed the Huskies 5-2 on Sunday, a day after Neuqua Valley handed OPRF a 6-1 loss.
OPRF (3-10) spotted Naperville North a three-goal first period lead (two on power plays), but came back strong in the second period with a power play goal of its own when Kevin Meegan scored on an assist from Mike Beard.
Naperville North was whistled for six penalties in the period, giving OPRF two brief 5-on-3 advantages, but the Huskies couldn't cash in. Naperville North upped its lead 4-1 with an early third period goal, but the Huskies answered two minutes later when Mike Wojtowicz took a pass from Andy Dirgo and blasted it past the Naperville goalie. Naperville North added a late power play goal for the final 5-2 score.
Tanner Houston was in the Huskies' net and stopped 34-of-39 Naperville North shots.
Saturday's opponent, Neuqua Valley, is one of the top teams in the state and easily the toughest opponent the Huskies have faced to date. The Wildcats entered the game with a perfect 9-0-0 Metro West record, an 18-2-2 overall mark, and three straight shutouts. Neuqua Valley scored two goals in the first four minutes of the game and added two more in the second period before Dean Rogers ended the Wildcats' shutout streak. Mike Slovak skated the puck into the Wildcat zone and dropped a pass for Rogers, who picked a spot in the top corner of the net and buried a wrist shot to cut the Neuqua Valley lead to 4-1.
The Wildcats answered with two third period goals.
Bob Grayson's goaltending was a highlight for the Huskies as he made several spectacular saves on point blank shots. Grayson faced 60 Wildcat shots in the game, stopping 54 for a 0.900 save percentage.
The Huskies came out strong in Thursday's tie, outshooting Fremd by a 16-3 margin in the first period, but they didn't score until Jack Brofman's goal in the second period. Brofman was perfectly positioned just outside the crease and deflected a Slovak slap shot up and over the goalie's right shoulder. Matt McDonnell also picked up an assist on the initial pass to Slovak.
Fremd tied the game just 35 seconds into the third period, and although the Huskies continued to put pressure on the Vikings, they couldn't come up with a second goal and had to settle for a 1-1 tie.
Houston was in goal for the Huskies and stopped 22-of-23 shots.
The OPRF Hockey Club will hold its annual "Skate with the Huskies" night at Ridgeland Common on Sunday. The JV and varsity teams will play an intersquad scrimmage game starting at 4:30 p.m. Following the game, the club invites all of its fans (young and old) to strap on their skates and skate with the Huskies. All proceeds from "Skate with the Huskies" benefit the Bolin-Cooper Scholarship Fund.
A press release contributed to this report.