Wildcat hockey team hosts Bemidji Beavers

AnnMarie Kent

The Wildcat hockey team will host the Bemidji State University Beavers Friday, Oct. 30 and Saturday, Oct. 31 at the Berry Events Center, after a home-and-home series last weekend against Michigan Tech.re-IMG_2985

On Friday, Oct. 23 the Wildcats played the Michigan Tech Huskies, coming out with a 4-1 victory at the Berry Events Center.

The ’Cats outshot the Huskies 46-21. Freshman Atte Tolvanen was in goal all three periods and posted 20 saves for NMU.

Tolvanen has had a lot more playing time than head coach Walt Kyle had anticipated this early in the season.

“[Tolvanen] has played exceptionally well,” Kyle said. “The thing I found about him as we’ve had him here, his demeanor and his focus are just exceptional. That’s a big skill for a goaltender.”

Michigan Tech quickly took an early lead. Junior forward Michael Neville rebounded a shot from senior forward Alex Petan, and put away the lone goal for the Huskies within three minutes of the start of the game.

Junior forward Casey Purpur responded minutes later putting the puck in the net with help from freshman forward Troy Loggins.

Senior forward Darren Nowick and junior forward John Siemer both posted powerplay goals for NMU.

Another assist from Loggins gave freshman forward Denver Pierce first goal of his collegiate career.

The ’Cats traveled to Houghton Saturday, Oct. 24 for the second game in the series against Michigan Tech, where they fell to Tech 3-1.

In the first period Siemer put away the only goal for NMU, to give them the early lead.

The Huskies came back, posting three goals in the second period, this time outshooting NMU 46-20.

Inconsistency is the biggest problem in their game, junior forward Dominik Shine said.

“I think overall we see where we can be,” Shine said. “I think if we keep playing the way we are, we’ll find our game and be ccconsistent.”

Tolvanen had a career-high 43 saves Saturday night and blocked 63 of the 67 shots fired at the ’Cats over the weekend.

His performance this weekend led Tolvanen to receive Rookie of the Week from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the second time this year.

Tolvanen’s consistency in the net has the coaching staff pleased with his performance, Kyle said.

“His eyes have been on the ball the entire time. He doesn’t get too high, he doesn’t get too low,” Kyle said.

NMU will continue their season this weekend against the Bemidji State Beavers.

The Beavers have a 1-3-1 record through the beginning weeks.

Head coach of the Beavers Tom Serratore said the biggest thing the Beavers are working on for the game against NMU is the transition into Olympic-sized ice rink.

“With a bigger sized rink than they’re used to, tactics have to be changed in order to use the ice to their advantage,” Serratore said.

Sophomore goalie for the Beavers Michael Bitzer was named Rookie of the Year at the end of the 2014-2015 season. So far this season Bitzer has posted 116 saves in the first five games of the season.

Sophomore forward Gerry Fitzgerald is the leading scorer for the Beavers, with six goals and an assist to begin the season. Senior defenseman Graeme McCormick is trailing with three goals and two assists.

“I know that we’ll have our hands full,” Kyle said. “They’re a real dynamic group of forwards, they’re really good in goal, and they have a solid core of defensemen.”