MANKATO, Mn. The No. 15 Northern Michigan University hockey program fell 7-3 at the hands of No. 3 Minnesota State Mankato Friday evening on the road.
A three-goal third period for the Mavericks proved the difference maker as they now hole the 2-1 regular season edge in the series. Able to find the back of the net once per period, it was not enough as Loughran, Klee and Beaulieu picked up goals for the Wildcats in the loss.
The Mavericks struck first at 2:01 of the opening period when Reggie Lutz picked up the rebound in the Wildcat zone and banked it home for the 1-0 lead. The two teams would skate for 15 more minutes, trading penalties with no more scoring before Griffin Loughran scored his nation-leading 21st goal of the season, on the power play, to knot things at 1-1 with 2:21 to play. MSU-Mankato regained the lead with a wrister that got behind Nolan Kent to head into the first intermission with the Wildcats trailing, 2-1.
Despite being outshot 19-14 through the first period, the Wildcats had a few solid looks on net but were unable to capitalize more than once through 20 minutes of play.
MSU-Mankato fired 12 straight shots on goal halfway though the second period but Kent stood on his head to keep it a one-goal game with eight minutes to go in the middle frame.
After playing four-on-four for over a minute, the Wildcats had 40 seconds of power play action where the Mavericks beat Kent glove side to go up 3-1 with 7:46 to go in the second frame.
At 13:57 of the second period, Adam Roeder and Garrett Klee rushed down the ice, forming a two-on-one situation where Klee fired one home to cut the Mavericks' lead to one goal, although short lived. The Mavericks got one back less than a minute later as the puck fired from the near boards floated past Kent for the 4-2 score. Following the fourth Maverick goal at 14:22, John Hawthorne was sent in as relief. Kent finished the night with 29 saves on 33 shots faced.
The Mavericks scored their fifth of the game at 4:41 of the final period with a power play as the Wildcats found themselves down 5-2 with 15:19 to play.
Breathing life into the Wildcat efforts was senior captain Philip Beaulieu with a goal from the top of the near circle to cut the Maverick lead to two at 11:49 of the period before NMU was given the man advantage 37 seconds later although they were not able to capitalize on the power play chance.
Two late goals for the Mavericks gave NMU just their second loss of the new year as they fell 7-3 in Mankato, Minnesota.
Griffin Loughran found twine first for the Wildcats when his shot on the power play found its way between Mavericks' goaltender Dryden McKay and the near post to things up at 17:48 of the period. Winning the draw on the faceoff shortly after a Maverick was called for slashing, Darien Craighead fed the puck over to Joseph Nardi in the slot who ripped the puck to Loughran for the power play goal just nine seconds after going on the man-advantage.
On a two-on-one rush, Adam Roeder connected with Garrett Klee to cut the Mavericks' lead to one to beat McKay stick side into a virtually wide open net. Caleb Schroer also picked up an assist on the play.
With a feed from Andre Ghantous along the boards, Philip Beaulieu found the back of the net at 8:11 of the third period for the final Wildcat goal of the night. Nardi also earned an assist on the goal for his second of the night.
With his power play goal in the first, the Wildcat power play unit got back to its successful ways while Griffin Loughran tallied his nation-leading 21st goal and 35th point of the season.
Before he was pulled late in the second period, Nolan Kent boasted 29 saves on 33 shots. John Hawthorne made six saves to finish out the game for the Wildcats.
Although outshot 42-24 on the night, the Wildcats generated great opportunities but were unable to capitalize on multiple chances as the Mavericks held NMU to just three goals on the night.
The Wildcats blocked 13 shots on Friday night, led by Rylan Yaremko who jumped in front of three shots to help keep his team in the game.
With four shots on goal, Luke Voltin led the team in shots on net while fellow senior Philip Beaulieu had the most total shots, firing nine shots deep, including three on net and picking up his fifth goal of the season.
Highlighting Friday night's box score, three Wildcats are currently riding point streaks including Griffin Loughran (5 games; 4-3-7), Andre Ghantous (4 games; 1-4-5) and Caleb Schroer (2 games; 1-1-2).
The two teams meet tomorrow night (Saturday, February 8) for the regular season finale with puck drop set for 6:07 p.m. CT.
This season, the Wildcats are 3-3-1 against teams ranked in the top-11 with a chance to pull ahead in Saturday's matchup.
Currently, the Wildcats sit third in the WCHA behind MSU-Mankato and next week's opponent, Bemidji State University.