Men’s Hockey celebrates first weekend sweep of season against CCHA opponent LSSU

GAME WINNER — Josh Zinger with the game-winning goal on Saturday night to take the weekend sweep.
GAME WINNER — Josh Zinger with the game-winning goal on Saturday night to take the weekend sweep.
Molly Birch
CCHA Forward of the Week, Artem Shlaine, was 29-13 in face-off wins on the weekend. (Molly Birch)

This past weekend, the Northern Michigan men’s hockey team took on CCHA opponent the Lake Superior State Lakers. The Wildcats ended the weekend 2-0 over the Lakers with a 6-4 win on Friday, Nov. 10 and a 4-3 overtime win on Saturday, Nov. 11. NMU bumped their record to 3-6-1 overall and 3-3-0 in the conference. 

On Friday night, the ‘Cats had their first scoring opportunity from senior Artem Shlaine that was called off because the net was knocked off by a Lake State player. The teams battled the rest of the period and the Lakers scored in the final minute.

The Wildcats started the second period with a 1-0 deficit. Fifth-year student Michael Van Unen scored to tie the game five minutes into the second period. Two minutes later, freshman Michael Mesic scored his first of the season to push Northern ahead.

Shlaine had his first goal of the game 10 minutes into the second period with a rebound from a shot off the boards. Lake Superior State answered back with a power play goal to end the second period.

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The Lakers scored in the first 15 seconds of the third period and scored a second power play goal two minutes later to make the score 4-3 over the ‘Cats. Shlaine tied the score for NMU with his second goal of the game and pushed the ‘Cats ahead with his third goal to complete his first hat trick as a Wildcat. The win was solidified for Northern with an empty net goal by senior Michael Colella to end the game 6-4. 

“I think we need to continue building momentum at home,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said. “We’re still trying to find D pairs and lines and some continuity and part of it [is] injury. Part of [it] is just trying to find that right balance.”

Defenseman Josh Zinger is ranked third in the CCHA for assists. (Molly Birch)

On Saturday, the first period started quietly with only one goal from Lake Superior State late in the period. Northern answered back in the second period with two goals from senior Kristof Papp and sophomore Connor Eddy, making the lead 2-1.

The ‘Cats held the lead into the third period, when the Lakers scored a second goal to tie the score once again. Not long after, Papp had his second goal of the game to hold the score at 3-2 until the last 30 seconds of the game. The Lakers scored to send the game into overtime. The Wildcats sophomore defenseman Josh Zinger had his first career game-winning goal nearly one minute into overtime to end the game in favor of NMU. 

“[I’m] a little disappointed we didn’t close the game out on Saturday. And I thought that … the whole third period we were on our heels a little bit,” Potulny said. “We had that power play at the end of the game, and [it] would have been nice to close the game out there but you win the game.” 

After defeating Lake Superior State, Northern Michigan men’s hockey has moved up to No. 3 in the CCHA standings. Shlaine earned CCHA Forward of the Week honors after his hat trick in the first game and is ranked No. 13 in total goals (5) and goals per game average (.50). Fifth-year student Andre Ghantous is currently leading the CCHA and is ranked No. 7 nationally in total assists (10) and assists per game (1.00). 

The Wildcats will host the Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks on Friday, Nov. 17 at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 18 at 6:07 p.m. The Nanooks have a record of 6-3-1 overall going into the weekend.

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