M Hockey: ‘Cats face UP rival Michigan Tech Huskies in weekend split

U.P. BATTLE — The Cats take on their Upper Peninsula rival the Huskies after a weekend against the Vikings.
U.P. BATTLE — The ‘Cats take on their Upper Peninsula rival the Huskies after a weekend against the Vikings.
Molly Birch

This past weekend, the Northern Michigan men’s hockey team hosted the Augustana Vikings. On Friday, Dec. 1, the Wildcats tied the Vikings 2-2 and on Saturday, Dec. 2, fell in a 5-3 finish. After the weekend, NMU is 6-8-2 overall, 4-4-0 in the CCHA conference and has dropped to fifth in the conference standings. 

In the game on Friday, the Wildcats outshot the Vikings 43-27 overall. Augustana had the opening goal of the game in the first two minutes and piled on a two-goal lead after just four minutes. The period remained scoreless for NMU, and it was not until nearly 10 minutes into the second period that the ‘Cats scored their first goal of the game.

Molly Birch

Senior Michael Colella scored for the Wildcats with a one-touch pass from freshman Matvei Kabanov. In the start of the third period, freshman Michael Mesic put the puck in the net to tie the score at 2-2. The game went into overtime where the score remained tied. The teams then played in a shootout where Augustana found themselves with a goal. The game remained tied overall. 

“I obviously think the chances were there,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said. “We’re having a hard time scoring right now, if you look back at our games, we’re averaging two goals a game in the last six games.” 

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To start the first 15 seconds of the game on Saturday night, the ‘Cats had a five-minute major and a game misconduct. After the long penalty kill, Wildcats fifth-year student Andre Ghantous scored the opening goal of the game. Ghantous became the sixth Wildcat of all time to skate in 150+ games, score 50+ goals and record 90+ assists. Soon after the first goal, sophomore Connor Eddy buried a rebound from senior captain Artem Shlaine’s shot. The Vikings were able to make the score 2-1 ending the first period.

The ‘Cats started the second period with a goal that was called off by the officials and the Vikings tied the score shortly after. Ghantous answered back nearly three minutes later, but Augustana scored a third to keep the overall score tied to end the second period. The Vikings started and finished the scoring in the final period, ending the game 5-3.

Ghantous currently sits at No. 1 in the CCHA for total assists and assists per game, No.3 for total points and points per game and No. 16 for total goals and goals per game. Shlaine is No. 7 for points per game, No. 11 for total points, No. 12 for goals per game and No. 15 for total goals. 

Molly Birch

The ‘Cats look ahead to play U.P. rivals the Michigan Tech Huskies in Houghton on Friday, Dec. 8 at 7:07 p.m. and in Marquette on Saturday Dec. 9 at 6:07 p.m. Tech is currently No. 2 in the CCHA rankings with a current overall record of 7-7-3. Huskies goalie Blake Pietilla has earned CCHA Goalie of the Week honors going into the games this weekend. 

“To be honest, I think that the way that we have to score is we have to be at the net. We have to be at the net, win the net front, get our sticks free and then be able to do something with that puck,” Potulny said. “You might have to bolt your backhand and get it up or your forehand and get it up because [Pietilla’s] going to take away the whole bottom part of the net.” 

The last time NMU and MTU faced off was in the CCHA semifinals where the ‘Cats defeated the Huskies 4-0. 

“Obviously everything’s heightened this week. It’s just for our group, it’s just quiet,” Potulny said. “Quiet the noise, play within ourselves.”

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