Wildcats get extra point in Alaska
65 minutes was not enough in Fairbanks on Friday night as the Northern Michigan Wildcats (13-8-4, 11-5-1-1 WCHA) and Alaska Nanooks (13-12-1, 11-8-2-0 WCHA) skated to a 4-4 tie at the Carlson Center.
NMU clinched the extra league point with a goal from Joseph Nardi at 4:22 of the final period, with an assist to Griffin Loughran to move into a tie for third in the conference standings.
An eventful opening period saw three lead changes as the two teams skated to a 3-3 tie after 20 minutes of play. The Nanooks were the first to get on the board when they found the back of the net at 3:09 of the first before Griffin Loughran and Luke Voltin scored just 1:32 apart to take the 2-1 lead. Alaska would score two quick goals, including a power play tally in the final few minutes of the period, before Hank Sorensen scored from the slot with 44 seconds left in the first to knot things up at 3-3.
The Wildcats took back the game in the second period as they outshot their opponent 12-5 and tallied the only goal of the period with a one-timer from Philip Beaulieu. After coming as relief late in the first period, freshman netminder John Hawthorne stopped all five shots faced, including a net front scramble on the penalty kill to maintain the NMU lead heading into the final period of play.
The Nanooks tied things up just over a minute into the third period for the final official NCAA goal of the game. With nine saves in the final period, John Hawthorne made a few huge saves late in the game to carry his team to the overtime periods.
Overall, the Wildcats outshot the Nanooks 31-29 and picked up an additional four in the second overtime period for the unofficial 35-29 edge in shots on goal.
Griffin Loughran netted his nation-leading 18th goal of the season as he put the Wildcats on the board at 13:24 of the first period. Picking up the puck on a breakaway, Loughran skated in alone to tap it in through the five-hole. Hank Sorensen picked up the primary assist on the play as he shot the puck up ice to Loughran in the neutral zone.
Just 1:32 later, Luke Voltin scored his second goal of the season as he picked up the rebound out front to beat Nanooks' goaltender Martinsson. Darien Craighead who had the initial attempt, and AJ Vanderbeck earned the assists on the goal.
Hank Sorensen fired one home at 19:16 of the first to cap a three-goal period for the Wildcats. Craighead and Vanderbeck both picked up their second assists of the night with the goal.
The captain, Philip Beaulieu put the Wildcats back on top with a one-timer from the top of the near circle. With a leaping grab to stop the clear attempt by the Nanooks, Vincent de Mey fed Beaulieu the puck on a five-on-three advantage for the fourth Wildcat goal of the evening.
Joseph Nardi picked up the extra WCHA point for the Wildcats, lifting them to a tie with Alaska for third in the conference standings. Assisted by Loughran, Nardi raced across the blue line into the Nano zone. Faking a shot early in his run, he got Martinsson in position for the first shot before beating him stick side to end the game at 1:56 a.m. ET, however, the goal does not count towards NCAA statistics.
Hawthorne stopped 19 of 20 shots faced to boost the Wildcats to the 4-4 final in Fairbanks.
With the first Wildcat goal of the game, Griffin Loughran's 18 goals moves alone into first in the national standings and his 0.75 goals per game puts him fifth overall.
Loughran now averages 1.21 points per game (18-11-29) and ranks 14th overall in the category.
A team that averages 3.36 goals per game, the Wildcats now rank tied for ninth in the nation in the category.
The Wildcats officially outshot the Nanooks 31-29 but picked up an extra four in the second overtime period while not allowing a single Alaska shot in the three-on-three period.
Four Wildcats fired four shots on net in the full contest, including Vincent de Mey, Griffin Loughran, Philip Beaulieu and Joseph Nardi.
The Wildcats close out their regular season series against the Nanooks tonight at 9:07 p.m. with the winner of that contest taking control of third place in the WCHA.
The two teams are now 1-1-1 on the season following a weekend split earlier this season in Marquette.