MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (14-10-3, 12-5-2-2 WCHA) earned their fifth-consecutive win on their home ice Friday evening defeating Lake Superior State University (6-17-4, 4-12-3-0 WCHA), 3-2. It is the Wildcats ninth victory in the Berry Events Center this season and fifth-consecutive.
The victory also put the Wildcats up, 2-1, in the Cappo Cup series going into the final contest of the regular season between the two squads. The Wildcats also currently own the goal differential, 10-8.
It was a slow start offensively for both squads with neither team registering a shot in the opening three minutes. Not long after the first shot, the Lakers captured an early lead with a score at 4:33 of the first period. An intercepted pass in front of the net allowed LSSU to score the first goal of the game, grabbing a lead that would last the rest of the period. Despite trailing, the Wildcats controlled the puck the rest of the way, outshooting their opponents, 12-6, in the period.
NMU began the second period the same way the ended the first, dominating the puck. The Wildcats got on the board just 55 second into the period with a score from junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia), his fifth of the season. Initially, senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) took a point blank shot that bounced to sophomore forward Demico Hannoun (North Delta, British Columbia). Hannoun sent the puck back to Rockwood for the score giving himself and Payne an assist on the goal.
Sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) took over the rest of the period, scoring a pair of goals before the midway point. He scored his 14th of the season to gibe NMU their first lead of the game at 2:10 of the period with assists going to sophomore forward Luke Voltin (Blaine, Minnesota) and junior defenseman James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta) It was the first point of the season for Voltin and Vermeulens's fifth assist.
Craighead's second goal came nearly seven minutes later when a shot from junior defenseman Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota) deflected to Craighead at the net for a power play score. Assists on Craighead's 15th goal of the year went to Black and senior forward Zach Diamantoni (Montgomery, New Jersey). It was the 11th assist of the season for both players.
LSSU would get a score back late in the period to make it 3-2, with 20 minutes to play. NMU continued to dominate the puck, again, nearly doubling their opponents shot total in the period, 15-8.
Junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) stepped up in the final period against a flurry of Laker shots. LSSU recorded 15 chances at the net, more than the first two periods combined. Tolvanen was able to stop all 15 to finish the game with 27 saves, securing NMU's third straight victory.
Tolvanen's victory between the pipes improved his season record to 12-5-1 with his third-consecutive win. Since returning from a six-game injury absence, Tolvanen has gone 6-1-1 in nine contests. For the season, he has a save percentage of .908 and a goals against average of 2.55.
The final game of the Cappo Cup will be Saturday evening when both team face off for the fourth and final time this regular season. The Wildcats will retain the Cup with a victory, otherwise, it will be decided by goal differential. NMU has outscored LSSU, 10-8, in the first three contests. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.