SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (WLUC) — Northern Michigan University (5-8-0, 4-3-0-0 WCHA) dropped their series opening game against No. 20 Lake Superior State University (7-3-1, 3-2-1-0 WCHA) Friday evening by a score of 4-2.
It was a slow first half of the opening period with just three shots in the first 10 minutes, all by the Wildcats. NMU finished the period with an 8-6 shot advantage and managed to kill off an LSSU power play chance near the midway point. Another Laker penalty as the first period expired set up the Wildcats with two minutes of on-ice advantage to begin the second period.
LOGGINS STRIKES FIRST
Beginning the period in the power play, the first Wildcat shot on-goal in the second was sent into the back of the net by senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California). His fifth goal of the season came just 1:16 into the second period and was assisted by senior forwards Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) and Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia). It was Pierce's second assist of the season and Rockwood's seventh.
Near the midway point of the second period, the Lakers evened the score at one goal each on an even strength goal. LSSU's offense came alive the rest of the period, eventually outshooting NMU, 13-9, in the second. Their efforts paid off as they found their second goal of the game just 16 seconds shy of the second intermission.
It did not take long for the Lakers to add to their lead in the third period scoring just 48 seconds after the intermission. They again extended their lead to a trio of goal midway through the third period with a power play score.
Just over a minute later, freshman forward Grant Loven (East Grand Forks, Minnesota) found his first collegiate point when he sent the puck into the back of the net. Loven scored 10:21 of the final period with the assist going to sophomore forward Caleb Schroer (Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin).
NMU could not catch up to the Lakers with neither squad scoring the rest of the way. The Lakers defended their home ice, winning 4-2. Each season, the Wildcats and Lakers compete for the Cappo Cup given to the winner of the season series. With the victory, LSSU takes the early lead in the series with three more contests to be played this season. NMU has won the season series in back-to-back campaigns.
TOLVANEN IN GOAL
Senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vhito, Finland) made 34 saves in Friday's contest to record his 36th career 30-plus save outing. He now has 297 saves for the season which are currently fourth-most in the NCAA and the most in the WCHA. Tolvanen also owns a save percentage of .914 and a goals against average of 2.41 for the season.
While Loggins and Loven recorded the two Wildcat goals, Pierce and senior defenseman Tony Bretzman (Mendota Heights, Minnesota) each led NMU with four shots on-goal. Not far behind, Loggins took three shot attempts while senior defenseman Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota) and sophomore forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) each attempted a pair of shots in the game.
NMU will look for the series split on Saturday when the puck drops at 7:07 p.m. in Taffy Abel Arena. The Wildcats have not lost a series to the Lakers since February of 2016.