‘Cats fall apart in 6-2 loss to Bowling Green


BATTLING BOWLING GREEN—NMU senior forward and captain Joseph Nardi possesses the puck for the Wildcats around a couple of Bowling Green defenders. The Wildcats lost 6-2, and end the regular season with weekend with a series against the Huskies of Michigan Tech. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson

Through two periods, the NMU Hockey team was in a battle with the visiting Bowling Green Falcons. Trailing 3-2 going into the third, the Wildcats collapsed and ended Sunday’s match-up with a 6-2 defeat. 

NMU (8-13-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) took home two points on Saturday with a shootout win after neither team could score in regulation or overtime. Sunday’s game was looking to be about the same halfway through the first period before Wildcats’ sophomore defenseman Colby Enns shot went past Bowling Green senior goalie Eric Dop for the first goal of the series for either team. The Falcons finally got on the board with two minutes left in the first with a deflection off of freshman forward Seth Fyten’s stick to tie the game. 

BGSU kept buzzing around NMU freshman goalie Rico DiMatteo and connected on another goal 1:10 later from junior forward Taylor Schneider. The Wildcats had control but quickly lost it with the two goals from Bowling Green in the final minutes. NMU tied the game back up at 2-2 when senior forward Joseph Nardi scored nearly four minutes into the second period. Bowling Green got the lead back with a goal from junior defenseman Will Cullen on a 4-on-4 and took a 3-2 advantage into the third. The ‘Cats began the period with 47 seconds left on a power play, but could not convert. They had another chance a few minutes later on the power play to tie it up, but a breakaway shorthanded goal by BGSU’s senior forward Connor Ford slammed the door shut. 

“I don’t know that going into the third period that we had played great, but we were in the game. The power play’s been a thorn for us, and you work on it and you try some different things. But the reality is sometimes you can knock the top guys off of their rhythm a little bit when it’s not going and then to kind of culminate it with the shorthanded goal,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said in his Zoom postgame press conference. “I had mentioned to the guys like it’s got to stay at three [Bowling Green goals] and if it does, we’re going to get some chances. Now, you’ve got to finish them and there’s no guarantee you’re going to score, but I thought that number had to stay at three. The shorthanded goal was a tough one and that probably deflated the bench and the mindset a bit on what we were trying to get accomplished that period.”

Junior forward Evan Dougherty scored another one for the Falcons just a minute later, resulting in DiMatteo being pulled in favor of sophomore goalie John Hawthorne. He was not pulled due to his performance, but because the coaching staff felt he needed a rest after starting the team’s past seven games, Potulny said. Things snowballed for NMU after that when sophomore defenseman Hank Sorensen committed a five-minute major penalty that ended up in a second goal from Schneider to make the final score 6-2. NMU was outshot 44-26 on a night that Potulny said that his team just did not have it.

“I didn’t think either team started the game very well and I can’t speak for what their bench was like, but our bench didn’t have a ton of energy. And even with the lead, I thought there was very little physicality either way in the game. It was kind of one of those nights where I was hoping we could extend it and kind of defend a little bit. Maybe win a sleepy 3-1 type game,” Potulny said. “Obviously, those two goals jump started them a little bit and then we come out and tie it up. And I thought ‘okay here we go’, and then obviously, the 4-on-4 goal gave them the lead back. But even going into the third, it was a one shot game. We just didn’t have it tonight.”

The Wildcats had four home games this past week, finishing 1-1-2 in the contests. Now with only two games left on the regular season against rival Michigan Tech, it would be a good time to pick up a pair of wins going into the postseason.

“They’re obviously disappointed, athletes always know if they gave their best effort. I think sometimes you don’t have it, and we didn’t have it tonight and they know it,” Potulny said. “They’re obviously very disappointed about it, but it’s just the time of year that there’s not a whole bunch of time left to be tinkering and changing.”