Wildcats split regular season series with Mavericks

MANKATO, Minn.—Northern Michigan University Men’s Ice Hockey (11-9-2, 9-5-2-2 WCHA) settled for a series split with Minnesota State University-Mankato (14-6, 12-4 WCHA) after a 6-3 loss Saturday evening in the Verizon Center. Despite the loss, the Wildcats remain in sole possession of second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Standings, five points behind the Mavericks.

For the fourth time this season, the Mavericks jumped to an early lead over the Wildcats in the opening period. At the four-minute mark, MSU took the 1-0 lead off a goal from the top point scorer in the conference, C.J Suess.

A continuing trend from Friday evening, the Minnesota St. lead was short lived as sophomore forward Demico Hannoun (North Delta, British Columbia) recorded his first point of the season on a goal at 7:22 of the first period. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) and freshman defenseman Robert Fosdick (Brooksfield, Wisconsin) each recorded assists on the play.

Minutes before the end of the first period, the Mavericks regained their lead marking the first time in four matchups this season that either team has netted a pair of scores in the first period. Despite the score being uneven, each team recorded eight shots on-goal and a pair of penalties.

It was all special teams in the second period with four combined power play chances in the period. NMU was able to shut down the Mavericks in their lone power play opportunity, but failed to score in their three chances. Defensively, NMU was also able to keep the Mavericks from scoring despite 10 shots in the period.

After neither team was able to score in the second period, NMU began the third period with about 45 seconds remaining on a power play chance, but they could not score despite three chances at the net during the span.

The opening seven minutes of the third period were quite leading up to a flurry of goals from both squads. MSU pushed their lead to three, 4-1, with eight minutes remaining in regulation. Freshman defenseman Adam Roeder (Ballwin, Missouri) trimmed the lead to a pair after NMU elected to take a skater advantage by pulling their goaltender. Roeder’s second goal of the year was assisted by freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) and senior forward Filip Starzynski (Warsaw, Poland)

Starzynski managed his second goal of the season on an assist from sophomore forward Brett Heikkila (Marquette, Michigan), but empty net goals for Minnesota State before and after kept the game out of reach.

Between the pipes, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) recorded 35 saves, his most in his last 11 appearances. For the season, owns a record of 9-5-0, a save percentage of .912 and a goal against average of 2.46.

It is the seventh series split of the season for NMU who saw their five-game unbeaten streak snapped in the 6-3 loss.

NMU will begin 2018 with a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada where they will participate in the Ice Vegas Invitational to be held in T-Mobile Arena, home of the National Hockey League’s Las Vegas Knights. On Friday, the Wildcats will take on Arizona State University for the first time in program history at 11:30 p.m. (EST) in one of the semifinal matchups. The other semifinal contest will pit Michigan Technological University against Boston College.