The men’s club hockey team finished off the weekend against St. Norbert College with their second series split of the 2012-13 season.
The St. Norbert Green Knights came out playing hard in game one on Friday, Oct. 19 when they scored 21 seconds into the period. However, after that first goal the ‘Cats lit up and proved unstoppable, resulting in a 5-1 win over the Knights.
At 12:03 in the first period the Wildcats started off their round of goals when left wing junior, Eric Wozny, chipped in his third of the season, with assists from sophomore forward Gunther Garett and right wing freshman Brusch Francis. Afterwards, the Wildcats never looked back.
Starting at defense, senior Evan Weber went on to score a power play goal with assists from seniors Shane Feeliery at defense and Kellen Michalak at forward.
Starting forward Wolff Belanger put himself in the books with an assist to starting forward Anders Carlson, who came up with a big goal for the ‘Cats with 1:36 left in the first. From there, the ‘Cats had sealed the game.
Carlson anticipated a tough game, and he was happy with the overall performance.
“I was expecting a good game and we played well and came out with a win,” Carlson said.
The Wildcats finished the first period with a 3-1 lead.
Coming into the second period, NMU played a great game all around. The Wildcat defense, led by sophomore goaltender Jeffrey Ryan, stopped the Green Knights at every opportunity. The Wildcat offense was also successful in the fight for second chances at goal.
In the second period, Carlson and Belanger assisted senior defense Mark Novak for the fourth Wildcat goal.
Belanger chipped in NMU’s final goal of the night with 2:28 left in the second to secure a 5-1 lead that brought in a Wildcat win. The assist came from the starting center, senior Brad Gicopoulos.
“I expected a closer game than that,” said NMU head coach Carl Trosien. “You know, they got that one goal in the first minute but then the next 50 minutes we came out and the boys played hard.”
Starting freshman defenseman Ben Wheeler explained how big of a victory it was.
“All of the seniors coming in talked about how St. Norbert was a big rivalry, so it was good to come out with the win,” Wheeler said.
The tables turned for the NMU the following day, when St. Norbert came up with some big plays that the ‘Cats couldn’t quite match. The Green Knights scored the first two goals of the game in the first period, without a response from the Wildcats.
Trosien attributed some of the problems to the ‘Cats minimal shot attempts at goal.
“We had 50 shots in (the first) game, and less than 20 the next,” said Trosien. “We needed to shoot the puck more and move our feet. The effort was lackluster and unacceptable.”
After the break, Trosien sparked some energy. In the second period, sophomore center Cory Acker scored NMU’s first goal of the night. Afterwards, Belanger came up to tie the game with 4:24 left after a breakaway that left him one-on-one with the St. Norbert goalie. At the end of the second, the teams were tied at two.
“The boys came back in the hockey game from behind and showed mental toughness,” Trosien said.
However, it wasn’t enough to earn a win. St. Norbert responded with a goal in the third period to put the score up by one, and that was where the score remained.
Wozny who started for the ’cats pinpointed their problems.
“They were a good team,” Wozny said. “We know that. We were in a hole and we were just slow tonight. We are a faster team than that and we took it too lightly this game.”
The Wildcats finished the game with a loss of 3-2, but the team knows what they need to do for the next series.
“We have a week of practice to work and bounce back and learn from this,” Wozny said.
The men’s club hockey team travels to Oshkosh, Wis. next weekend to face off with the UW Oshkosh Titans, starting the series at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 26.