Shorthanded hockey whitewashed by #14 Michigan Tech


TECH OVERPOWERS ‘CATS—NMU forward Connor Marritt shoots a shot for the Wildcats during the 8-1 loss to Michigan Tech on Tuesday. The ‘Cats have four regular season games left to make ground in CCHA standings. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson, Sports Editor

The Northern Michigan University hockey team was behind the 8-ball missing players to injury, including the Wildcats’ two Hobey Baker nominees and top two goalies, and #14 Michigan Tech made them pay with a 8-1 road win on Tuesday evening.

The Huskies (17-8-2, 13-5-1 CCHA) scored four goals in the first period to put the game ultimately out of reach before the first period was over. In the past three seasons, MTU has won 14 of 16 match-ups, including three of four this season. To make things worse for the ‘Cats (15-13-1, 9-12-1 CCHA), this was Michigan Tech’s largest win over NMU ever, and the Huskies have overtaken the all-time series between the schools for the first time since 1989.

The goaltender issue compounded all of NMU’s problems, so Nolan Kent got the start in net with Rico DiMatteo and Charlie Glockner on the shelf. With no back-up goalie on the roster, the ‘Cats picked up Braden Golisek, a senior sports information intern that played goalie at Marquette Senior High School and was playing intramurals. 

“For sure, there’s a lot of things happening,” NMU coach Grant Potulny said on Tech’s hot start taking the wind out of their sails. There’s players out, the goalie situation is what it is and all of those things kind of compound each other. That can lead to something like what happened today.”

Three Huskies- forwards Brian Halonen, Tristan Ashbrook and Logan Ganie- scored two goals each for the game. Halonen struck first 40 seconds into the game to put Tech in prime position with a 1-0 lead. On the power-play, Ashbrook received a nice pass in front of the net from forward Tommy Parrottino at 9:44 to give the Huskies a two-goal advantage. 

Defenseman Eric Gotz got in on the scoring next, as he skated up the net and snapped it past Kent at 14:55 off the pass from forward Justin Misiak. Halonen wasn’t done yet for the period, scoring 1:51 later at 16:46 to put the icing on the cake for a 4-0 Michigan Tech lead at the intermission on only 11 shots.

The Huskies weren’t done there, adding three more goals in the second period. Ganie scored both of his goals in the second, the first coming at 2:44 with the deflection off of a shot from forward Ryland Mosley. The next came at 7:50 for Ganie, scoring on the rush for MTU. Northern was trying to gain some momentum, but the Wildcats picked up three penalties within three minutes. The Huskies capitalized on the power play with a goal from forward Arvid Caderoth at 15:45 to make it 7-0 heading into the third period.

Both teams scored a goal in the first eight minutes of the period. Michigan Tech went up 8-0 with Ashbrook’s second goal of the night at 6:01. The Wildcats had multiple chances on the power play, and finally connected at 8:25 for the first goal of the night from forward Mikey Colella. Forward Andre Ghantous and defenseman Bo Hanson had assists on the play for the ‘Cats. No goals were scored in the final 12 minutes of the game, keeping the score at 8-1.

MTU goaltender Blake Pietila saved 18 of 19 NMU shots he faced before being subbed out with 11:35 left. With his eighth victory in the rivalry, he now has the most wins in the series for a goaltender. Kent racked up 28 saves in the loss for the Wildcats.

“Hockey’s a game where the team that’s in the lead, usually stays in the lead,” Potulny said. “There were stretches I thought in the second period that we were playing well, but then we got into penalty trouble. To be honest, this is a game where you just burn the tape. You just move on, there’s nothing to be learned from it.”

Michigan Tech is 7-0-1 since the new year, and hasn’t lost since a 3-2 overtime defeat to Michigan State on December 30 in the Great Lakes Invitational. The Huskies, currently ranked sixth in the Pairwise rankings, will make the NCAA Tournament barring something unprecedented. NMU’s season isn’t over just yet, but it’s looking like running the table in the CCHA Tournament is the only path to the postseason.