Men’s Hockey splits weekend with CCHA opponent St. Thomas

The Wildcats hit the road next to play the Minnesota State Mavericks.
FOCUS — Captain Artem Shlaine readies for a faceoff.
FOCUS — Captain Artem Shlaine readies for a faceoff.
Molly Birch

This past weekend, the Northern Michigan men’s hockey team hosted CCHA opponent the St. Thomas Tommies. The Wildcats split the weekend with the Tommies with a 3-2 win on Friday, Jan. 19 and dropped the second game 3-1 on Saturday, Jan. 20. The ‘Cats will take a road trip to Mankato, Minnesota to play another CCHA opponent, the Minnesota State Mavericks. 

On Friday night against the Tommies, freshman Matvei Kabanov took advantage of a rebound opportunity on the power play nearly eight minutes into the game. The first period remained unanswered by UST.

WEEKEND SPLIT — The Wildcats split the weekend with No. 1 St. Thomas. (Molly Birch)

Starting the second period, sophomore Connor Eddy sauced a pass to a wide-open Michael Colella. Colella took a quick shot on net past the goaltender to raise the score to 2-0. The Tommies were awarded a power play to put a point on the board for St. Thomas. Nearly four minutes later, UST had a lucky bounce to end the second period with a tied score.

NMU started the third period strong with a goal from freshman Viking Gustafsson Nyberg. The Wildcats went on to defeat the Tommies 3-2. 

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“It could have been five [to] zero, and the ability for us to come out after they scored their second goal and then control the last four minutes of the second and then start the third continuing that, that’s what led to the goal because we were able to just park it and move on,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said.

In the game on Saturday night, there was a quiet start with no goals recorded in the first 16 minutes of the game. St. Thomas was the first to put up a goal with less than four minutes left in the first period.

Northern tied up the score well into the second period with a power play goal from senior Andre Ghantous. UST was quick to answer back and keep the lead 2-1. Throughout the third period, the ‘Cats had chances, but none succeeded. The Tommies secured a 3-1 lead over the Wildcats to end the game. 

“This weekend [there] were… steps in the right direction for sure, [we] held them in the 20s in shots both nights, now it’s just playing two nights,” Potulny said. “When I look at the power play… the last 12 games were at 9% but more importantly it’s when you need it the most… like we needed to score on the five on three and it kind of coincides with some guys on some cold streaks.”

SMOOTH SKATING — Defenseman Josh Zinger zips down the ice. (Molly Birch)

The Wildcats are currently ranked No. 6 in the CCHA conference and are set to play Minnesota State Mankato this weekend, ranked at No. 3. The Mavericks are currently 12-9-3 overall and 8-5-1 in the conference, most recently splitting the weekend with Bowling Green. The last time the ‘Cats met Mankato was in the Mason Cup last March when Northern lost 3-2 in overtime. 

“[There] should be some guys that are excited to go back there, excited to right some wrongs from last year,” Potulny said. “They’re a good team, they’ve got good rush offense, their power play is really good, they’re well coached, they’ve got a top line that’s really dangerous, they’re a good team.” 

NMU has an overall record of 8-12-2 and 6-8-0 in the conference. The ‘Cats look to move up in the rankings and improve their record against the Mavericks.

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