MARQUETTE, Mi. Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (2-4-0, 1-1-0-0 WCHA) settled for a series split after falling, 2-1, Saturday evening to Bemidji State University (2-1-1, 1-1-0-0 WCHA) in the Berry Events Center.
POWER PLAY SCORE
For the second-consecutive night, it was a nearly even first period in terms of shots. The Wildcats edged their opponents, 8-7, after also outshooting the Beavers in the opening period on Friday.
Near the end of the first period, the Wildcats went into the power play after a major penalty was called against BSU at 16:10. With five minutes worth of advantage, NMU took advantage with 27 seconds remaining in the opening period courtesy of junior forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) and his fourth goal of the season. Senior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) and junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) were each credited with assists.
OUTNUMBERED, NOT OUT MATCHED
Special teams were the story of the second period with a combined six penalties, three against each squad. The Wildcats killed off a penalty near the middle of the penalty but found themselves in a two-man disadvantage after a pair of penalties against NMU were called 26 seconds apart.
Despite being outnumbered, NMU managed to kill off both penalties before returning to even strength with seven seconds remaining in the period. The Wildcats also managed to outshoot BSU in the second period, 13-4, but the contest remained tied at the second intermission.
LAST SECOND GOAL
Both teams remained tied at one goal each for much of the final period. The Beavers outshot NMU for the first time in the series during the period, but the Wildcats owned a 28-22 advantage for the contest.
The difference maker came in the closing seconds when a Falcon intercepted the puck near the blue line with less than four seconds to play in the game. He managed to skate past the Wildcat defense at center ice and send the puck into the back of the net for a score with less than a second remaining. The score sealed a BSU and a series split for both teams in the opening weekend of Western Collegiate Hockey Association action.
ATTE IN GOAL
A total of 10 saves in the final period helped senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) reach 20 for the game. He has reached the 20-save mark in each contest this season and now has 155 for the season, fifth-most in the NCAA. Tolvanen also owns a save percentage of .905 and a goals against average of 2.84.
A trio of Wildcats lead the team with four shots during the game, including Craighead who netted his fourth goal of the season. Senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) and senior defenseman James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta) both also had four shot attempts.
The Wildcats will now travel to No. 15 Bowling Green State University next weekend for a rematch of last season's WCHA Tournament semifinals. The Falcons are currently 5-1-1 on the season and it will be their conference opener.