Wildcat hockey splits games at LSSU

John Becker

The NMU hockey team rose to a three-game winning streak last weekend after beating the Lake Superior State Lakers. However the ’Cats ended up splitting the weekend against LSSU as they lost the second game. The Wildcats (3-3 CCHA, 3-5-1 overall) prepare for home conference action this weekend against Bowling Green.

Goaltender Reid Ellingson played the duration of the Friday, Nov. 5 game, winning his first of the season with 42 saves and only one goal allowed. Head coach Walt Kyle said Ellingson played well.

“I thought Reid had a great game, and we were really happy to see that,” Kyle said. “That was his first win of the year, and easily his best effort of the year.”

The Wildcats got off to an early lead when junior forward Andrew Cherniwchan (Wade Epp, Greger Hanson) scored at 4:05 in the first period. Junior forward Tyler Gron (Justin Florek, Scott Macaulay) scored the game-winning goal at 12:39.

The Wildcats had two minor penalties and one major in the second period, but both teams went into a shell until late in the second period when the Lakers scored a power play goal at 18:30 off of a two-minute cross-checking penalty on Wade Epp.

The Lakers had three more power play opportunities to score in the third period, but the Wildcats penalty killing unit allowed nothing more. Senior forward Greger Hanson punished the Lakers for pulling their goaltender late in the third with his empty net goal, earning the team a solid 4-1 victory.

Hanson said the empty-netter was just icing on the victory-cake.

“It felt good as any other goal, but it was just nice to know that the game was over and we got the win,” Hanson said.

Hanson is tied as the leading points-scorer with eight; however, six of his points are assists. He said hockey is really a team effort and that no one player can get a win by himself.

“I play with good teammates. I just try to make the simple passes, and I’m lucky to have good teammates who will score on my passes,” Hanson said.

Although the offense scored multiple times early in the first game, the second game of the weekend on Saturday, Nov. 6 got off to a slow start, as all the action occurred in the second period.

The Lakers got a shorthanded goal at 5:26 in the second, followed by another goal midway through the period. The Wildcat power play squad later executed a good play when Justin Florek scored at 12:32. However, Florek’s goal would not be enough as the Lakers took the game, 3-1.

Kyle said the Wildcats didn’t perform as well defensively on Saturday, but it also wasn’t their only issue.

“I think of equal importance was that our offense didn’t generate many opportunities,” Kyle said. “We didn’t make them have to defend their net, and when you do that, they start coming at you.”

The ’Cats host the Bowling Green State University Falcons (1-5 CCHA, 4-6 overall) on Friday, Nov. 12 and Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7:30 p.m. in the Berry Events Center. Friday’s game is Military Appreciation Night where all military personnel and their families can purchase tickets for $6.

Kyle said the Falcons are a team to be reckoned with and their conference record isn’t a good indicator of their skill.

“They’re very capable of coming in here and beating us so we have to make sure we come in here next week and take care of business,” Kyle said. “After this weekend, I think we play four on the road, so these two games are important games.”

The Wildcats will travel to take on the University of Alaska-Anchorage Nanooks on Nov. 19-20.