Freshman goalie brings NMU to 2-2 tie with Wisconsin on opening night

Ray Bressette

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Freshman goaltender Atte Tolvanen earned a tie in his first college hockey game for NMU Friday night against the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison, Wis. in their season opener.

The Wildcats and Badgers finished regulation and overtime with a 2-2 score, with NMU winning the shootout 2-1.

Freshmen forwards Troy Loggins and Filip Strazynski were the shootout hero’s for the ‘Cats, but both teams had opportunities to put the game away in the final minute of regulation.

NMU head coach Walt Kyle said his team adjusted well in their first play of the season.

“I was happy with our play,” Kyle said. “We weren’t very good early and we played a little nervous like I thought we would. I knew it was going to be a tough game, and Wisconsin came out hungry and they took it to us.

“I thought we leveled the playing field in the second [period], and really started to take the game over in the third.”

NMU stormed back from getting outshot 13-4 in the first period and outscored 1-0 to finish the game out shooting the Badgers 34-27.

NMU clawed their way to a 2-1 lead with a pair of third period goals from junior forward Shane Sooth at 5:47, with Strazynski following two minutes later to put NMU on top. Junior forward Gerard Hanson assisted both of NMU’s goals.

 

Kyle credited NMU’s comeback to the team’s more concentrated focus.

“I just think we got a little more organized and used to the pace,” Kyle said. “We started taking care of the puck a little bit more, and I think the guys did a good job.”

As the ’Cats were 42 seconds away from an opening night win, Wisconsin’s junior forward Grant Beese tied the game. Moments later, Wisconsin put the puck in the Wildcat net with less than a second remaining in the period to seemingly give them the win, but the official’s review showed the referee blew the play dead before the puck crossed the line.

 

The teams remained scoreless in the five-minute overtime, ending the game in a tie and leading the teams to a non-counted shootout.

 

Tolvanen was able to stand tall on two of the three Badgers’ shots to give the Wildcats the moral victory that does not show up in the record books.

 

“It’s unfortunate we gave it up, but it was a solid night,” Kyle said. “We had great goaltending by [Tolvanen] and a lot of our young guys played exceptionally well. Our older guys came around as the game went on, and we have to get those guys on more of a shift-by-shift basis.”

Tolvanen was 25 for 27 in his first career game with NMU.

NMU’s starting goalie from a year ago Mathias Dahlstrom was not suited for NMU Friday night, and his status has not been released for the next game.

 

The ‘Cats and Badgers finish the series at 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10 at the Kohl Center.