Beni Halasz earns second shutout with win over St. Thomas

Vincent de Mey scored twice for the ‘Cats, including a shorthanded tally, for his fifth and sixth on the year.
Published: Feb. 11, 2023 at 7:46 PM EST
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MARQUETTE, Mich. (WLUC) - The Northern Michigan University men’s hockey team squared off against St. Thomas for game one of the weekend series in Mendota Heights, capturing game one by a score of 3-0. The Wildcats improve to 14-15-0 overall, and 10-11-0 against CCHA opponents. The Tommies drop to 8-19-2 overall and 7-12-2 in CCHA play.

Vincent de Mey scored twice for the ‘Cats, including a shorthanded tally, for his fifth and sixth on the year. Andre Ghantous also picked up a goal for the ‘Cats, his sixth of the season. Artem Shlaine picked up an assist, extending his point streak to four games, and David Keefer, Aiden Gallacher, and Simon Kjellberg picked up helpers. Goalie Beni Halasz turned aside all 29 shots against, earning his second shutout of the season.

The game started with a quick pair of offsetting minors and the teams skated four-on-four a minute and a half into the first frame. As the penalties expired, Joey Larson got two looks from right on top of the crease, but Aaron Trotter made a pair of saves to keep the game scoreless. The ‘Cats started the first dominating play, but the Tommies would respond with some zone time and pressure of their own, as shots were just about even (5-4, NMU) just over the ten-minute mark. Neither team was afraid to throw the body around, as the game started physically with plenty of clean contact. Vincent de Mey was sprung on a full-ice breakout pass from Simon Kjellberg behind his own goal line and he split the St. Thomas defenders at the blue line and walked in on a breakaway, going backhand-forehand to beat the goalie and give the ‘Cats a 1-0 lead. This was de Mey’s fifth goal of the season and first since November 5, 2022, and Kjellberg’s second point in as many games.

The ‘Cats did a great job following the goal to keep the Tommies’ shots to the outside and limiting scoring chances. The game remained physical and the tempo was fast. The ‘Cats were whistled for a penalty just under a minute to go in the first. Stout defensive play would lead the Wildcats into the locker room with a one-goal lead after 20 minutes of play. On the back of a few key saves and blocks, the ‘Cats killed the surging Tommies to start the second period and returned to full strength. The ‘Cats were then whistled for another penalty at the two-minute mark of the frame. A successful kill for the first 3/4 of the penalty, then the Tommies took a penalty and the ‘Cats would have an abbreviated power play. The ‘Cats surrendered back-to-back shorthanded two-on-ones and escaped unscathed after good defensive plays.

Vincent de Mey once again found himself on a breakaway and elected the backhand this time, but couldn’t elevate the puck over the outstretched pad of Trotter. The ‘Cats were buzzing in the offensive zone with high-quality chances generated from David Keefer, Mikey Colella, and Andre Ghantous. The ‘Cats found themselves short-handed again, but that didn’t matter for de Mey as he received a cross-ice pass from Artem Shlaine, and with a defender to beat, fired a wicked wrist shot over the glove hand of Trotter to extend the ‘Cats lead to two. Vincent recorded his second goal on the evening, and with the assist, Shlaine extended his point streak to four games with six points in his last six games.

Moments later, another odd-man rush for the ‘Cats saw Andre Ghantous corral a rebound from a David Keefer shot and he fired the puck into the yawning cage for his sixth of the year. Just like that, the lead was three. Aiden Gallacher also picked up an assist on the play. The ‘Cats would go into the locker room leading by three but were being outshot 19-17 through two periods. Faceoffs were 18-17 in favor of the ‘Cats, and the ‘Cats had taken five penalties to the Tommies’ three. The Tommies came out of the locker with a change in the crease, as Ethan Roberts replaced Aaron Trotter after he allowed three goals on 17 shots. The ‘Cats would get an early power play to test the cold goalie just over a minute in, but the ‘Cats couldn’t find the back of the net after several quality chances.

Goalie Beni Halasz had to be sharp between the pipes, going east to west to make a great glove save on a wide-open Tommy to maintain the ‘Cats lead. Some more terrific defense powered the ‘Cats back to full strength halfway through the final frame. David Keefer made a slick move to beat his defender and came down on a breakaway, unable to solve Roberts over the pad. The ‘Cats remained stout on defense, not allowing the Tommies much ice or opportunities in the first 15 minutes of the third. The ‘Cats would go on to shut down the Tommies the rest of the way, and Beni Halasz picked up his second shutout of the season, stopping 29/29.

The ‘Cats square off against the Tommies Saturday night for game two from the St. Thomas Ice Arena at 7:07 p.m. ET.