Special Teams Propel Wildcats to Victory over #14 BGSU

Special Teams Propel Wildcats to Victory over #14 BGSU

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (12-10-3, 10-5-2-2 WCHA) jumped into a tie for second place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standing with a 5-2 victory Friday evening over No. 14 Bowling Green State University (12-7-6, 9-3-5-2 WCHA). The Wildcats scored four of their five goals in the power-play en route to the ranked win in the Berry Events Center.

Outshooting the Falcons 13-9 in the opening period, the Wildcats looked to score for the opening puck drop. A pair of goaltender interference penalties on BGSU then gave NMU opportunities in the power play to take an early lead on their home ice.

After the first goaltender interference penalty, junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) connected on his ninth goal of the season, finding the defense out of position. Junior forwards Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) recorded their 18th and fourth assists of the season on the play.                                            

Putting the Wildcats up a pair of goals, freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) scored on the second power play caused by a goaltender inference penalty. Nardi's fifth of the season was assisted by sophomore forwards Demico Hannoun (North Delta, British Columbia) for his first of the season Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) for his ninth. NMU would end the first period with the, 2-0, advantage. 

Special teams continued to dominate for the Wildcats in the second period with two more power play goals. Less than two minutes after the Falcons cut the lead to one, Craighead scored his 13th of the season. The score came at 7:19 of the second period and was assisted by Nardi and senior defenseman Jordan Klimek (Langley, British Columbia). For Nardi, it was his ninth assist of the season, while it was Klimek's 10th.

Near the midway point of the half, Loggins connected on his second goal of the game and 10th of the season to make NMU a perfect 4-of-4 in the power play. Sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) earned his 14th assist on the play, while Rockwood earned his 19th of the season, second of the contest.

BGSU attempted to mount a comeback in the opening minutes of the third period, scoring at the 7:41 mark to make it a 4-2 NMU lead. The Wildcats put the game out of reach with less than five minutes to play when Rockwood intercepted the puck for a breakaway. His point-blank shot was rejected, but he got his own rebound and sent it to Pierce for the score. Pierce's fifth goal of the season gave Rockwood his 20th assist and the Wildcats a WCHA victory.  

Rockwood's three assist game is the second of the season for the Wildcats, while his 20 on the season are the most for an NMU skater since the 2012-13 campaign.

Junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) improved to 10-5-1 on the season with his 23-save performance. His save percentage increased to .907, while his goals against average improved to 2.63. Since his return from a six-game injury abs cense on December 15, Tolvanen is 4-1-1 in seven contests.

Game two of the series will take place Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Berry Events Center. The contest will pit the two squads tied for second in the WCHA standings as both teams have 34 points.