HOUGHTON, Mi. The Wildcat hockey team (18-14-4, 16-11-1-1 WCHA) earned the weekend split with Michigan Tech (19-15-3, 14-12-2-0 WCHA) when senior Darien Craighead net his second of the series with 63 seconds remaining in the game for the 3-2 final.
The Huskies opened the scoring at 17:24 when a wrister off the faceoff beat Wildcat netminder Nolan Kent stick side. MTU would take that 1-0 lead to the locker room after one period with the Wildcats looking for the equalizer.
NMU tied things up with a tip-in goal from Luke Voltin at 4:08 of the second period. Less than a minute later, Andre Ghantous sent one trickling between the pads of MTU's Jurusik for their first lead of the weekend.
The Wildcats would take that 2-1 lead with them to second intermission with a 21-16 advantage in shots, including 16 through the second set of 20 minutes.
MTU tied things up late in the third period and all signs pointed towards overtime to determine a victor but Darien Craighead had other plans as he scored with 63 seconds left in regulation to secure home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs.
Brandon Schultz picked up the puck in the Husky zone and fired one towards net. Luke Voltin got his stick on it, deflecting it past Jurusik's blocker and into the back of the net for the tying goal.
Just 58 seconds after Voltin's goal, Andre Ghantous gave NMU the 2-1 lead when he picked up the puck behind the Husky net and tucked it home for the goal.
Nolan Kent left his net to break up a Husky rush late, chipping the puck away from the MTU forward. Darien Craighead then picked up the puck near the empty net and skated it the length of the ice, firing a rocket on net and hitting twine for the game-winning goal. Rylan Yaremko also picked up an assist on the goal, helping the Wildcats secure home ice through the first round of playoffs.
The Wildcats held the edge in shots, posting 29 on net to the Huskies' 24, including 16 in the middle frame as they jumped out to the 2-1 lead.
Sophomore netminder Nolan Kent made 22 saves on the night, including multiple chances on the penalty kill to keep the Wildcats on top for the majority of the night.
Darien Craighead now boasts 13 career game-winning goals and found his third of the season.
With a goal in the second period, Voltin joined classmates Phil Beaulieu and Darien Craighead with goals on their senior weekend. All three seniors found the back of the net during their final weekend of the regular season in a Wildcat jersey.
The Wildcats will host Michigan Tech next weekend in a best-of-three series for the WCHA Quarterfinals. The win at MacInnes Ice Arena secured a third place finish in the WCHA standings, accumulating 50 points with a 16-11-1-1 league record.