Wildcats Drop Season Opener to Spartans, 4-2

Wildcats Drop Season Opener to Spartans, 4-2

EAST LANSING, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (0-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) dropped their season opener, 4-2, on the road at Michigan State University (1-0-0, 0-0-0-0 BIG TEN) Friday evening to begin the 2018-19 campaign.

  BRETZMAN STARTS STRONG

After Michigan St. jumped out to a lead eight minutes into the season opener, senior defenseman Tony Bretzman (Mendota Heights, Minnesota) netted his first goal in a Wildcat sweater. The graduate transfer scored at 11:32 of the first period to tie the match at one goal each with assists going to freshman forward Ty Readman (Edmonton, Alberta) and sophomore forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta). 

  NOT SO FAST

Both teams went into the first intermission locked at one goal each, but MSU regained the lead less than six minutes into the second period. The Spartans lead was again short lived as NMU tied the match at two goals at 9:41 courtesy of junior forward Darien Craighead's (Surrey, British Columbia) first goal of the season.

Earning an assist on the Craighead goal was senior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) his first of the 2018-19 campaign. A season ago, Rockwood lead the NCAA with 40 assists. The total was 13th-most in a single season in program history and the most for a Wildcat skater since the 1991-92 season.

  THIRD PERIOD

NMU attempted nine shots in the third period, the second-consecutive period the team managed nine shots at the net. Throughout the opening 18 minutes of the final period, the Wildcats also stopped a pair of Spartan power plays.

The difference maker came in the final minutes with MSU netting their third goal of the game at 18:46 of the third period. The score put NMU in a 3-2 deficit that quickly climbed to 4-2 after the Wildcats opted to pull their goaltender. With less than two seconds remaining, Michigan St. found an empty net goal seal a 4-2 victory in the season opener for both teams.

  SAME OLD ATTE

Senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) earned the start in the season opener and made 41 stops. He made double digit saves in each of the three periods, including 17 in the second period.  It marks the 13th-time in his career that Tolvanen has surpassed the 40-save plateau.

Tolvanen was the last Wildcat goaltender to record 40-or-more saves in a game doing so almost exactly one year ago against Ferris State University on October 13, 2017.

  STAT LEADERS

Senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) led the team with four shots, while Nardi was right behind him with three. Six Wildcats attempted a pair of shots in the game.

NMU had their way in the face-off circle for much of the night. For the game, the Wildcats won 32 face-offs with Rockwood earning 14 wins. Not far behind, Nardi recorded 12 face-off victories.  

  SATURDAY NIGHT

The second game of the series is set for Saturday evening. NMU will look to earn a series split at 7:30 p.m. in Munn Ice Arena.

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