Ice penalties give up too many power-play goals

Katie Bultman

The men’s club hockey team took a pair of losses last weekend to top-ranked Illinois State University in a couple of games on the road.

Head coach Carl Trosien said the men made some important adjustments during the games against an impressive team.

“Illinois State played in the national final four last year and won the consolation game, so they finished third,” Trosien said. “Looking at what they had this weekend, they’re going to be a top four or five team in the nation, so it’s a good measuring stick to see where we’re at, based on where they’re at.”

The Wildcats lost the first game on Friday, Oct. 4 to the Redbirds, 6-3. Junior forward Wolff Belanger led the ’Cats with three points on one goal and two assists.
Senior forward Mike Baudino contributed two points on two assists.
Baudino said Illinois State had some quick players that made the game a challenge for the Wildcats.

“They were fast, they moved their feet the whole game,” Baudino said. “The biggest thing is that they didn’t let up for both games. They kept the same tempo and the power plays killed us.”

Junior goaltender Jeff Ryan took the loss for the ’Cats, playing the full 60 minutes in goal. Ryan had 30 saves of 36 shots on goal, making for a .833 save percentage in the game.

The ’Cats only had 27 shots on goal in comparison to the Redbirds, whose goaltender Scott Czarnik came up with a .889 save percentage.

The Wildcats also racked up 28 minutes in the penalty boxes on Friday night.

Trosien said the team needs to work on staying out of the penalty box, especially against the stronger teams like Illinois.

“There was a few (flaws),” Trosien said. “Stay out of the penalty box obviously was one; they (Illinois State) had a bunch of power-play goals. The other one was just learning how to play a better team.”

The following night, Saturday, Oct. 5, NMU lost 7-1 in a second game to the Redbirds. Fifth year senior forward Kellen Michalak scored the sole goal for the Wildcats off an assist from sophomore forward Anders Carlson.

On Saturday night the ’Cats spent a combined total of 50 minutes in the penalty box, which gave Illinois State opportune moments to score on power plays.
Fifth year senior defenseman Shane Feehery said the power plays really hurt the Wildcats.

“We got a lot of penalties called against us, and then further on in the game we didn’t move our feet as much,” Feehery said. “We got a lot of stick penalties and they (Illinois State) were good on the powerplay.” Junior goaltender Alex Latvala took the loss on Saturday evening with a .837 save percentage after saving 36 of 43 shots on goal.The Wildcats only shot 25 on goal, leaving a much smaller margin for NMU to score on.

Trosien said the ’Cats will be able to take some experience from the weekend losses.
“They were probably one of the better teams, probably the best team we’ve seen to this point,” Trosien said. “I think they were real fast, and just learning how to play with a team with that kind of team speed was huge.”

The Wildcats are members of the Western Collegiate Club Hockey Association (WCCHA) conference, which is governed by the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA).
The ACHA recently announced its first round of awards for the month of October, and fifth year senior center Neeco Belanger was voted player of the month for his 11 points within the first six games of the season.
Neeco Belanger scored one goal on Friday evening to continue his success with the ’Cats. Trosien said Neeco Belanger needs to keep working hard to bring the intensity to the ice.

“[Belanger] was here second semester last year, he comes from Lindenwood [where he] won two national championships there in ACHA Division 1 hockey,” Trosien said. “He just brings a little experience and hes doing fine, he just needs to keep putting the puck in the net.”

This weekend, the Wildcats are on the road for a tournament in Kalamazoo, Mich. They first play at 9:15 a.m. Friday, Oct. 11 against the University of Kentucky. The tournament continues at 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 versus the University of Toledo. It concludes in a game at 1:15 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 13 against the New Jersey Institute of Technology. All games will be played in the K-Wings Ice Arena.

Trosien said the team is looking to use this tournament to continue to improve.
“We will hopefully go down there and get some of that confidence back we may have lost this weekend and just continue to improve,” Trosien said. “It’s a good national showcase, so the boys will go down there, they show well, and they make up for what they didn’t do this weekend. It’s a long season, but it’s early.”