FAIRBANKS, Alas. (WLUC) — Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (11-10-0, 10-4-0-0 WCHA) earned their second-consecutive series sweep with a 4-2 victory over the University of Alaska Fairbanks (4-14-2, 4-9-1-1 WCHA) Saturday night. Junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) helped seal the sweep with three goals in a three-minute span during the third period for his first career hat trick.
After the Wildcats jumped to an early lead in Friday night's contest, neither team was able to take a lead in the first period on Saturday. The Nanooks did outshoot the Wildcats but the NMU defense managed to stop all eight attempts on-net. Senior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) led NMU with a pair of shot attempts in the opening period while five others each attempted a pair of shots on-goal.
The Nanooks took the lead seven minutes in to the second period with the first goal of the contest. It would be the only score of the game despite both teams attempting double digit shots in the period for a combined 27 chances on-net. Junior forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) led the team with three shots on-goal after two periods of play while four others had a pair of shot attempts. NMU also killed a late UAF power play chance in the period as well as another that stretched into the final period.
NOT ONCE, NOT TWICE, BUT A HAT TRICK
In a matter of three minutes, Beaulieu gave the Wildcats the lead and recorded the first hat trick of his career. He scored a power play goal to tie the game 6:10 into the final period with assists going to Rockwood and senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California). It was Beaulieu's second goal of the season while Rockwood and Loggins picked up their 10th and eighth assists of the season.
Just before the nine-minute mark of the period, a pair of Nanook penalties gave the Wildcats a 5-3 on-ice advantage for more than a minute of action. It took Beaulieu just 17 seconds of the power play for Beaulieu to find the back of the net a second time with the assist going to Craighead. Still with a 5-4 power play, Beaulieu recorded the hattrick with another goal 19 seconds later. Senior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) picked up an assist on the goal for his fourth of the season along with Rockwood recording his second assist of the game.
The hat trick is the first for a Wildcats since December 16, 2017 when Craighead netted three goals in a victory over Ferris State University. Beaulieu's third period hat trick is the seventh in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association this season.
Already with an assist in the game, Pierce added an empty net goal with eight seconds remaining in the game. The goal tied a career-high two points for Pierce and helped seal a 4-2 victory after UAF added a late goal. It marked the first time third period comeback for the Wildcats since Head Coach Grant Potulny took over.
With the victory, NMU has now won four-consecutive contests and eight of their last 11 games dating back to November 16. The victory also moved the Wildcats into third place in the WCHA standings with 30 points, three points off the pace being set by No. 9/12 Bowling Green State University.
ATTE IN GOAL
For the 39th time in his career, senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) reached the 30-save plateau with 32 saves. The victory also moved Tolvanen to .500 for his career with a 52-52-11 record over four seasons. He ranks second in the NCAA with four shutouts this season, third with 542 saves, and sixth with 11 wins.
NMU will remain in Alaska for two more games next weekend against the University of Alaska Anchorage. Earlier this season, the two teams met in the Berry Events Center where the Wildcats recorded a series sweep of the Seawolves.