MARQUETTE - For once, Northern Michigan University sophomore goaltender Michael Doan had a clean slate when he entered the crease for the Wildcats.
After coming on only in relief last year of junior Jared Coreau with the 'Cats down by three or more goals, Doan got his first collegiate start on Saturday in a 2-1 loss against the No. 2-ranked Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis.
The 6-foot-4, 214-pound native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, finished with a collegiate-high 27 saves against the Badgers, with his previous high being the 18 saves he made on 18 shots on Jan. 26, 2013 in Fairbanks against Alaska.
Northern Michigan University sophomore goaltender Michael Doan makes a pad save during the second period against the University of Wisconsin on Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. (Adelle Whitefoot photo)
Up until Saturday's loss in Madison, the eventual 4-2 loss to the Nanooks had been the most action Doan saw in a single game (27 minutes, 1 second) and it was tightest game he'd ever been in as well.
"I've been preparing for it for a long time, almost a year and a half now," Doan said about getting the start Saturday. "It was fun. It was a nice rink to get my first start in. The student section is crazy and that's always fun. I just tried to focus as much as I could on what I worked on and just let that carry me through the first little bit there until the butterflies settled a little bit."
Doan was called upon about once a month last year as a true freshman to replace a Coreau when the game got out of hand. Doan first appeared on Oct. 19, 2012 at Nebraska-Omaha with NMU down 5-1, then at Miami on Nov. 9, 2012 with the RedHawks up 4-1 and again at Lake Superior State on Dec. 14, 2012 with the Lakers cruising 3-0.
He made 14 saves against the Mavericks, who visit the Berry Events Center for 7:07 p.m. games on Friday and Saturday this weekend, seven saves against Miami and 15 saves against the Lakers with only the RedHawks scoring on Doan.
Doan's final appearance of the 2012-13 season came Feb. 12 at Michigan Tech with Northern trailing 4-0. He gave up another four goals on 13 shots before Coreau was put back in net to finish out the Wildcats' 8-2 loss.
"We put Doan in during stressful situations last year when we were down and getting shelled," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said, calling the team "rotten" against Tech.
The Badgers beat Doan for a 1-0 lead in the first period on Saturday when UW sophomore forward Nic Kerdiles bounce a rocket off the skate of NMU senior defenseman and captain C.J. Ludwig.
Doan, who was wearing the mask of redshirt freshman Mathias Dahlstrom at the time because the chin strap on his broke, said he thought the puck was originally going to his right side, but the deflection off Ludwig's skate sent it through the five hole instead.
"I was just a hard drive and I read it off the blade and it was going to my right side," Doan said. "It just went off (Ludwig's) skate there and I just couldn't close it fast enough.
"It probably looked pretty weak from where everyone else was sitting, but it was just a bad bounce really."
Badgers freshman Grant Besse beat Doan for the game-winner in the third period on a two-on-one breakaway that was created via a bad read by NMU junior defenseman Luke Eibler in the neutral zone. Besse held the puck instead of passing on the break and then got some puck luck to catch Doan out of position.
"I read that he was going to shoot high glove, he shot high-glove and unfortunately the rebound just happened to land right back on his stick and I was so far out of the net I didn't have any time to recover," Doan said. "It was another unfortunate bounce.
"it just so happened the puck landed right back on his stick."
Dahlstrom, who was given the slight edge by Kyle following the two exhibitions in Marquette, started in Friday's 5-2 loss to the Badgers in what was his first regular-season collegiate game. He made 33 saves, but the five goals against opened the door for Doan in the battle to become the Wildcats' go-to-guy in goal.
"I thought Michael Doan played very good," Kyle said. "The first one was a tough one, but after that, he made up for it.
"Obviously Michael gained some points. Mathias had an edge, but it was a razor's edge."