Hockey: NMU’s Vanderbeck scores OT goal in 4-3 win


Chris Anderson/NW

THRILLER- NMU celebrates the goal by A.J. Vanderbeck, winning the game in overtime.

Chris Anderson

NMU Men’s Hockey opened up the season against Bowling Green, a conference rival, this past weekend and ended with a 1-1 split with the Falcons. Freshman Joey Larson had two assists on the night and junior Michael Colella scored two goals for the Cats in this season opener. After being up 4-3 early in the 3rd period, NMU gave up three goals in the final 17 minutes of the game to end up losing 6-4.

“I thought our first night we turned the puck over too many times. I kind of kick started them,” Coach Grant Potulny said. “Sunday night, game two, that was a really good hockey game for us. Maybe the score did not indicate it. Indicatively we ended up having to go to overtime.”

The second game went much better for the Wildcats. Star forward A.J. Vanderbeck was the hero of the game, winning it in overtime 4-3. Larson also scored a goal on the night as the team showed how they were able to bounce back after a tough loss.

“I am hopeful that Saturday, game one, was just a case of first game nerves and jitters because on Sunday, we looked like the team that has practice for all training camp,” Potulny said. “We did have 14 new players, that probably adds to some of the jitters.”

The Wildcats held the Falcons to 1-7 on power plays during the two match ups while going 4-9 themselves, showing much needed improvement in that area compared to past years. 

“That is where typically a lot of people end up giving up goals,” Potulny said. “So, the fact that we could get that sorted for the weekend … was a step in the right direction because we changed a lot.” 

Coming up next weekend, the Wildcats will head to Hamilton, New York to face off against Colgate University in a non-conference matchup. They are looking to continue their momentum from the overtime win at home.

“[Colgate is] a good team you do not know a ton about … because it is early in the season, and you do not have tape,” Potulny said. “They are structured, they are well coached, they can skate and they defend well.” 

NMU won both matchups against Colgate last year and are looking forward to another test against a strong opponent. By doing so, they hope to fix any problems they may have as they gear up for a promising season.

“You do things to prepare for other people,” Potulny said. “But basically, it is about getting your team to the right place. This weekend, probably more than ever try to figure out what they are doing … and do what we do.”