NMU rattled by No. 3

Katie Bultman

The men’s hockey team was unable to repeat last year’s sweep over University of Wisconsin-Madison at the Badger’s home rink this past weekend, Friday Oct. 11 and Saturday, Oct. 12.

Photo Credit: Anthony Viola
Photo Credit: Anthony Viola

Wisconsin is currently ranked No. 3 in the nation, and NMU head coach Walt Kyle said the men played a difficult game against a good team.

“You are always disappointed when you don’t win, but in reality we knew we were playing a very, very good team,” Kyle said. “It’s a big arena, it’s a great environment to play in and it’s certainly real advantageous for the home team. We reacted pretty well to that.”

Last season, the Wildcats hosted UW-Madison in Green Bay, Wis. to earn a 2-1 victory Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 and a 4-2 victory Saturday, Oct. 13.

This year, Wisconsin took two games against NMU in the Badger’s homecoming weekend when they won 5-2 opening night of the series.

NMU redshirt freshman Mathias Dahlstrom played in goal, tallying 33 saves for 38 shots on goal.

Kyle said Dahlstrom played well against a good team.

“When you look, Mathias let in five, but in all fairness he really didn’t let in any bad goals,” Kyle said. “I thought he played really well and we just, unfortunately, didn’t make some of the plays we needed to defensively.”

Point leaders for the ’Cats included senior defenseman CJ Ludwig, who had two points off one goal and one assist, and senior forward Stephen Vigier, who scored one goal for the Wildcats.

Ludwig said the Wildcats started off nervous, which came off sloppy on the ice.

“Once we felt a little more comfortable, we started moving the puck better,” Ludwig said. “Moving it defense to defense efficiently gave us some time for our forwards to get open. Then we started to use our forwards to cycle the puck down low. We possessed the puck in their end, which helps us create offense.”

The Badgers opened the game with three goals in the first period alone. NMU did not respond until 17:41 in the second period when Ludwig scored with assists by junior forward Ryan Daugherty and senior forward Erik Higby.

Wisconsin scored again at the end of the second period to put the score up 4-1, and then scored their fifth and final goal within the first two minutes of the last period.

Vigier finished the game on a power-play goal with assists from Ludwig and junior defenseman Mitch Jones. The game ended 5-2 in favor of the Badgers.

Kyle said aside from the first period of the series, the Wildcats played as an even match to the Badgers.

“Wisconsin came out on Friday night and kind of stormed us,” Kyle said. “First period we got rattled a little bit and wound up losing that period three to nothing. From that point on, it was a pretty even series.”

The following evening, Saturday, Oct. 12, the Wildcats came within one point of a victory against the Badgers, taking a 2-1 loss to Wisconsin.

Doan played in goal to tally 27 saves for 29 shots on goal.

Kyle said Doan played well after the first goal he let go.

“The first goal was not a great goal and I know Michael wasn’t happy with it, but it was good to see that he was able to regroup in a tough environment,” Kyle said. “He played very well and made some huge saves for us.”

Junior defenseman Luke Eibler scored the only goal for NMU in the third period. It was unassisted, and brought the ’Cats to a tie 10 minutes into the final period.

Doan racked up five saves for the Wildcats before Wisconsin’s Grant Besse put the puck in the net for a 2-1 lead.

NMU was unable to make up the deficit, and the ’Cats lost the game 2-1.

Kyle said NMU really improved their game Saturday.

“We were very much in that game, it could’ve gone either way,” Kyle said. “It was a tie game with three minutes left; we had a breakdown and gave them an odd man rush that they were able to score on, but I was really happy with the growth. If we continue to grow like that and continue to get better we’ll be in good shape.”

The ’Cats open the season at home against the University of Nebraska-Omaha at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 19.

Vigier said the team is excited to be in the Berry Events Center for the season opener.

“Omaha is going to be a big, physical team and it’s going to be a good challenge for us,” Vigier said. “Hopefully after this week we’ll be ready and hopefully we get a good crowd on the weekend.”