Wildcats Cannot Overcome Early ASU Goals at Ice Vegas Invitational

Wildcats Cannot Overcome Early ASU Goals at Ice Vegas Invitational

LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (11-10-2, 9-5-2-2 WCHA) fell victim to an offensive outburst by Arizona State University (5-12-4, independent) dropping their Ice Vegas semifinal matchup, 6-3, Friday evening in T-Mobile Arena. 

From the opening minutes, the Wildcats found themselves in a deficit with the Sun Devils securing a three-goal lead less than seven minutes into the opening period. ASU managed a score immediately off a face-off and a power play score during the span but were outshot 11-7 by NMU in the first period.

Picking up the offensive tempo in the second period, it was a matter of time before the Wildcats got on the board. It took more than 32 minutes, but junior defender James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta) scored his first goal of the season with eight minutes remaining in the second period. Freshman defender Robert Fosdick (Brookfield, Wisconsin) and senior forward Zach Diamantoni (Montgomery, New Jersey) earned their second and ninth assists of the season.

NMU continued to outshoot the Sun Devils in the second period by a wide margin. A season-high 20 shots in the second period brought the NMU total for the game to 31, while the Wildcat defense held ASU to just six shots in the period.

Beginning the third period with a three-on-five advantage, the Sun Devils scored their second power play goal of the game less than two minutes in. Two more goals by the half way point of the period gave ASU 6-1 advantage with ten minutes to play in the contest.

Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) continues to sit atop the NCAA goal scorers list for the season after scoring at 10:10 of the third period. His 17th of the season is tied with Clarkson University's Scott Pooley for the national lead.

On the Payne goal, freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) increased his scoring streak to a career-high four games with his eighth assist of the season. Senior defenseman Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota) also recorded his eighth assist of the season on the play.

Sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) managed to cut the lead to three, 6-3, with 3:41 remaining in the contest on his 12th goal of the season. Vermeulen earned his fourth assist on the play, while junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) earned his 13th.

Despite the two late scores, the ASU lead proved too large with the Sun Devils taking on a late goal with less than two minutes to play. NMU would fall in the second semifinal matchup of the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational, 7-4.

Sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby, Sweden) entered the game in the first period to finish the night with 14 saves. Offensively, NMU outshot the Eagles 43-23 in the game, marking the first time the Wildcats attempted 40-or-more shots on-goal since October 22, 2016.

NMU moves to the consolation bracket where they will take on No. 13/14 Boston College (10-8-2. 10-3-0 HEA) after the Eagles dropped their semifinal game with Michigan Technological University, 4-3. Tomorrow's 8 p.m. (EDT) matchup between NMU and BC will be the first since 1999 when the Eagles defeated the Wildcats, 2-1, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Boston College owns a 5-4-0 all-time record in the series.