MARQUETTE, Mi. The Wildcats of Northern Michigan University (8-7-2, 6-5-0-0 WCHA) fell to No. 1 Minnesota State Mankato (15-1-1, 10-1-0 WCHA), 5-2, on Friday night at the Berry Events Center.
Although the Mavericks outscored the Wildcats. 5-2, the game was a hard fought battle with the box score about even. MSU-Mankato held the narrow edge in shots, posting 28 to the Wildcats' 25 but NMU held it's own in blocked shots with 18 while the Mavericks jumped in front of 12.
The first period was a lot of back and forth action with the two teams remaining scoreless until a series of power play tallies put the Mavericks up 2-0 going into the first intermission.
John Hawthorne came in for relief between the pipes towards the end of the first period and would make eight saves in the middle frame.
Sophomore forward Ty Readman would put the Wildcats on the board at 9:20 of the second period to cut the lead in half, 2-1, but the Mavericks answered back with two more of their own to head into the final 20 minutes with a 4-1 lead.
Andre Ghantous netted a tally at 18:10 of the third to round out the scoring for the night.
Ty Readman picked up a loose puck off a Maverick defender and surprised their goaltender on the doorstep for the unassisted goal at 9:20 of the middle frame for his fourth of the season.
Andre Ghantous tallied his seventh of the season, and most among Wildcat rookies, as the clock ticked just under two minutes remaining. On the power play, Ben Newhouse sent the puck up ice from the near defensive circle to Grant Loven. As Loven went for the change, he passed the puck along to Ghantous who carried it in and fired one home for the second Wildcat goal of the night.
The Wildcats kept the game close in shots, peppering Mavericks' net minder Dryden McKay with 25 shots on net.
Four Wildcats recorded three shots on net in the loss, including Mike Van Unen, Vincent de Mey, Philip Beaulieu and Adam Roeder.
Northern Michigan led in blocked shots, 18-12, with Ben Newhouse recording a team-high five blocks.
After tonight, the Wildcats are 13th nationally in scoring offense, averaging 3.18 goals per game.
Entering the game in the third period, freshman goaltender John Roberts made his collegiate debut between the pipes and recorded one save.
The Wildcats return for the series finale with the Mavericks tomorrow night at 6:07 p.m. A teddy bear toss, hosted by SAAC, will take place during the first intermission and young Wildcat fans are encouraged to wear their favorite team's apparel for free admission with a paid adult ticket.