Exhibition series delivers victory

Katie Bultman

Opening weekend offers coaches a view of athlete potential on ice 

The men’s hockey season officially opened at 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5 versus the U.S. National Under-18 hockey team, resulting in a 3-1 NMU victory.Head coach Walt Kyle said it was a good start for the Wildcats against a strong team.

Sophomore forward Justin Rose (21) started at left wing in the game against the U.S. National Under-18 hockey team on Saturday, Oct. 5. Rose appeared in 24 games in the 2012-13 season to earn his first letter for the ’Cats. (Anthony Viola/NW)
Sophomore forward Justin Rose (21) started at left wing in the game against the U.S. National Under-18 hockey team on Saturday, Oct. 5. Rose appeared in 24 games in the 2012-13 season to earn his first letter for the ’Cats. (Anthony Viola/NW)

“The national team is a very good team; those guys will all be playing in major colleges next year,” Kyle said. “That’s a big challenge to play that team early, and our guys played pretty well.”

NMU sophomore forward Cohen Adair led the ’Cats in scoring with two points on one goal and one assist.

Redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom had 22 saves on 23 shots during his 40 minutes.

Sophomore goaltender Michael Doan was in goal for NMU in the final 20 minutes. Doan had seven saves on seven shots.Kyle said both men played competitively over the weekend.

“They’re both guys that didn’t play much last year,” Kyle said. “Mathias didn’t play at all; Michael only played six or seven periods, and for guys that hadn’t played they both did a real good job. There’s going to be competition there.”

The score remained at zero for the entirety of the first period against the National team.

In the second period, 53 seconds in, Darin Larkin scored the first goal against the ’Cats.

NMU senior defenseman CJ Ludwig responded, tieing the game at one with 4:30 on the clock in the second period. The assist is credited to junior forward Ryan Daugherty.

Daugherty said the National team played competitively on the ice, which will help NMU with future games in the season.

“It was a good learning tool,” Daugherty said. “We saw where a lot of the guys on the team are going to be and need to be.”

In the rest of the second period, NMU landed time in the penalty box twice before they took a 2-1 lead with a goal from senior forward Erik Higby off an assist by Adair.

Doan took over the goaltender position for NMU in the third period to record his seven saves.

The U.S. National team was unable to score, and Adair sealed the 3-1 victory for the Wildcats on a power play 18 minutes into the final period. Freshman forward Shane Sooth assisted Adair for the point.

Daugherty said the win proved that NMU has the ability to be a contender this season.

“I think we’ll be a really strong team if we stick to our team game plan and don’t have a lot of individuals with a lot of egos,” Daugherty said. “We’re here to win all together, all for one kind of thing.”

The following afternoon, Sunday, Oct. 6, the Wildcats hosted Laurentian University for a second exhibition game, resulting in a 3-2 victory for the ’Cats.

Daugherty had two goals for NMU. Doan and Dahlstrom took the win as goaltenders with a combined 16 saves of 18 shots.

The Voyageurs opened the game with the first goal at 3:13.

NMU was unable to respond when Laurentian scored a power-play goal to take a 2-0 lead 9:46 into the game.

Kyle said the coaching staff sat a majority of the seniors against the Voyageurs in order to see what some of the younger athletes could do on the ice.

“We tried to play all the guys that were kind of on the bubble, and give them an opportunity to really earn their spurs and find out where they fit in the lineup,” Kyle said. “They got a lot of ice time in a lot of key situations and we were able to get a read on some of them in regards to where we think they fit.”

With 19:22 into the first period, the Voyageurs were called for a slashing penalty, giving the Wildcats an opportunity for a power-play goal.

Sophomore forward Ryan Aynsley took advantage and put the Wildcats on the board at the very end of the first period with assists from freshman defenseman Barrett Kaib and freshman defenseman Brock Maschmeyer.

The ’Cats went into the second period down 2-1, where they found themselves in the penalty box twice during the period.

Kyle said the Wildcats took far too many penalties this weekend.

“That’s an area where we have to absolutely cut down,” Kyle said. “We know that, and we’ve told guys if they’re going to continue to take penalties, they won’t be in the lineup.”

Though both Laurentian and NMU spent time in the penalty box, neither was able to capitalize on the power play opportunities. The score remained 2-1 going into the final period.

Daugherty managed to tie the game up 10 minutes into the third period with an assist from junior forward Ryan Kesti.

A minute later, the ’Cats sealed the game when Daugherty scored a short-handed goal off an assist from junior defenseman Jake Baker for the 3-2 victory.

This weekend, the Wildcats take on the University of Wisconsin Madison in their homecoming game. The teams play at 8:07 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12 at Wisconsin.

NMU swept Wisconsin last season in Green Bay.

“We know we’re playing one of the better teams in the nation and we know it’s going to be a real hostile environment,” Kyle said. “That’s kind of baptism under fire. It’s great for our guys to get that experience against a really good team. We’ll be better after the weekend I’m sure.”