MARQUETTE - The Northern Michigan University hockey team ended a three-game losing skid and eight-game winless streak with goals from junior Brian Nugent and senior captain Justin Florek to beat Michigan State 2-1 in front of 3,453 fans at the Berry Events Center.
Nugent held the puck himself instead of passing off to senior Tyler Gron on a two-on-one breakaway to pick up his first goal of the season and sixth of his career at the 15:30 mark of the third period to put NMU on top 2-1.
The Spartans tied the game at the 12:11 mark of the third period with a goal from freshman Matt Berry after sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau mishandled the puck trying to cover it up.
Florek, of Marquette, drew a penalty late in the second period along the boards in the Spartan zone - two for tripping on MSU senior Daultan Leveille - and used the Wildcats' third power play chance of the night to break the scoreless tie with 11 seconds remaining in the period.
Prior to Saturday, Florek was scoreless in four-straight games and lit the lamp only once in the last eight outings after posting five goals in five games to start the year.
That drought came to at least a temporary halt when Florek took tic-tac-toe passes from freshman defenseman Mitch Jones and junior defenseman Kyle Follmer on the man advantage to beat Spartan goaltender Will Yanakeff on the 25th shot of the night for NMU.
Florek's power play goal not only ended a personal drought, but a team drought. Prior to Florek's score, NMU had failed to convert on 15-straight power play opportunities and had gone six games without a power play goal.
Yanakeff finished with 28 saves for the Spartans while Coreau stopped 20 shots in his fifth start and sixth appearance of the season.
Northern's second CCHA win of the season and fifth overall did come at a cost after a bench-clearing fight following the final buzzer. Six players were issued penalties including four Wildcats.
Sophomore Reed Seckel received five minutes for cross checking and a 10-minute game misconduct. He was the only player not to receive a 10-minute game disqualification.
The Wildcats will be without three defensemen when it returns from the by week to host Miami on Dec. 2 at the Berry Events Center. Junior Wade Epp was handed a 10-minute abuse of officials penalty after leaving the penalty box. Scott Macaulay and Michigan State's Greg Wolfe received five-minute majors for fighting. Follmer and MSU's Torey Krug picked up five-minute majors for facemasking.
All five players must sit out the next game. For Michigan State, that is a Nov. 25 game against Minnesota in East Lansing.
NMU will be with only five defensemen against Miami on Dec. 2 - Austin Handley, Mitch Jones, Ryan Kesti, Jake Baker and C.J. Ludwig. Kesti has been playing forward all season, but was a defensemen last year.
Freshman defenseman Eric Walker has left the NMU hockey program.