Hockey loses two games, ties Tech

John Becker

The NMU hockey team opened up the regular season last weekend with the Superior Cup, where the Wildcats were defeated in both games of the showcase by the Michigan Tech Huskies, 4-3 and the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs, 3-2.

On Tuesday, Oct. 12, the ’Cats battled their way to a 4-4 tie against the Huskies in Houghton. The WCHA does not have a shootout, and games end as a tie if no winner can be decided in overtime. The NCAA rules state that a game ends after overtime, but some leagues, such as the CCHA, use the shootout to decide which teams compete in the conference championship.

The Wildcats were up two goals early in the first period, but a 5-minute major by Scott Macaulay for checking from behind allowed two power play goals at 16:54 and 17:26 respectively, taking away the early advantage. The Huskies scored early in the second, and the game would go scoreless for the rest of the period until late in regulation when a goal by Andrew Cherniwchan evened the score once more. A goal with 15 seconds left in overtime gave the Huskies the win.

Junior forward Tyler Gron makes his way toward the offensive zone. Gron scored one goal against Michigan Tech on Oct. 8. He also earned one goal and two assists vs Tech on Oct. 12. // Ashley Wiggins/NW

Head coach Walt Kyle said he was pleased with most of the game itself, even though the outcome ended against them.

“I was happy with the number of shots that we generated and with the number of shots that we held Tech to,” Kyle said. “But veteran guys have to understand that they can’t have breakdowns at critical moments.”

The Wildcats came out to a slow start against the Bulldogs, allowing two goals in the first, both off of power plays.

“As sharp as we were taking care of the puck Friday, we were that flat on Saturday, we ended  up taking some bad penalties because of it,” he said.

Both teams went offensively stagnant until the third period when the Bulldogs scored another goal at 2:11. Andrew Fernandez was able to score two goals in two minutes against the Bulldogs late in the third, but the offensive charge wasn’t enough to stage a comeback.

Senior forward Gregor Hansen said the offense just did what it was instructed to do to get the goals.

“We got the puck low and started cycling. The D came down and got involved and it really helped us because we had another option for passing and Fernandez made two great plays,” Hansen said.

Kyle said the ’Cats did a good job of turning up the intensity as the game went on, but that the team needs to come to play a whole game.

“The biggest thing is if you take a look at the shots, we were coming at them hard for the whole third period. To some degree it could be them backing up because it was 3-0,” he said.

Hansen agreed that the team grew as the games played on.

“We played better and better, especially on Saturday. We started really slow and finished the game better, and we can build on that,” Hansen said.

Even though the Wildcats are still winless, Kyle said he’s expecting good things to happen in practice before the season opener, and he knows the team has what it takes to contend in the CCHA.

“One of the things I saw both nights with our team was a real resilience and a willingness to continue to battle, and that’s something you can’t teach,” Kyle said. “It’s something that you really appreciate at the end, and it’s huge.”

The Wildcats will open up their CCHA conference schedule in Oxford, Ohio, on Friday, Oct. 22 against the Miami  University Redhawks.

The Redhawks are ranked fourth in the nation currently.