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NMU Hockey defeats St. Thomas in first game of revived CCHA

DiMatteo makes 21 saves
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Oct. 9, 2021 at 1:11 AM EDT
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Wildcats of Northern Michigan University opened their 2021-22 season with a decisive win at home, 4-1, over the University of St. Thomas Tommies, Friday. In the debut of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, three different Wildcat icers lit the lamp en route to the win.

The Wildcats jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead behind goals from Mikey Colella and David Keefer in the opening period.

Shots on goal were fairly even through the first 20 minutes of play, with Rico DiMatteo batting aside all 11 shots faced as the home Wildcats held the narrow edge with 12 shots in the first frame.

The Tommies would find the back of the net at 2:26 of the second period to cut the Wildcats lead in half but Rylan Van Unen would find the back of the net for the second time in his career to make it 3-1 and seal the deal for NMU.

A back-and-forth third period saw the Tommies fighting to stay alive but an empty net goal from Colella, his second tally of the night, would round out the scoring and give NMU the 4-1 final.

Rico DiMatteo stood tall in net, allowing just one goal on 22 attempts by the Tommies to give his team the opening night victory.

SCORING PLAYS

  • With a pass up ice from Andre GhantousJoseph Nardi fed the puck over to Mikey Colella just to the left of the crease who buried it home for the first CCHA goal of the new era. Picking up the primary assist on the goal, Nardi tallied his 100 career points at 38 goals and 62 assists.
  • The Wildcats continued the scoring, jumping out to a 2-0 lead at 15:53 of the opening period when David Keefer skated the puck into the offensive zone and sent a wrister through the five-hole of UST’s netminder for the eventual game-winner. Tim Erkkila and Garrett Klee picked up assists on the goal.
  • Alex Frye skated the puck through the neutral zone and towards the crease. With his initial attempt denied, Rylan Van Unen grabbed the loose puck and tucked it under the skate of UST’s Thome for the 3-1 score. Tim Erkkila also picked up an assist on the play.
  • Mikey Colella recorded his second-career multi-goal game, finding the empty net at 17:29 of the third period for the final tally of the night.

KEY STATS

  • Joseph Nardi joined the century club with his 100th career-point with 14:23 elapsed in the first regular season game of 2021-22. The captain now boasts a career record of 38-62-100 in 150 games played.
  • The Wildcats outshot the Tommies, 35-22, led by Colella with eight shots and two goals.
  • Mike Van Unen led the team in blocked shots, jumping in front of three UST shots.
  • Rico DiMatteo made 21 saves on the night in 60 minutes of play. The sophomore netminder improves his career record to 8-6-1 with the victory and third star of the night honors.
  • Two Wildcats accounted for 31 of the team’s 43 faceoff wins as Hampus Eriksson and Joseph Nardi won the battle in the circle 16 and 15 times, respectively.

IRONMEN

Joseph Nardi, along with head coach Grant Potulny and associate head coach Byron Pool appeared in their 150th game together as the Wildcats defeated UST, Friday night.

Coach Potulny has amassed a 76-64-10 record, now entering his fifth season behind the bench for NMU, while Nardi laced up his skates for his 150th-consecutive contest becoming the current NCAA leader in games played with a single team.

UP NEXT

The Wildcats return to the Berry Events Center Saturday evening, looking to close out the weekend series with a sweep.

Puck drop is set for 6:37 p.m. Saturday night.

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