Inconsistent NMU icers lose 3-2

Northern Michigan’s Jame Vermeulen pursues Alabama-Huntsville’s Christian Rajic Saturday night, Dec 2. 2017, at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Rachel Oakley)

MARQUETTE — One word can describe the Northern Michigan University hockey team right now — inconsistent.

The Wildcats came out roaring and emerged with a 3-1 win over Alabama-Huntsville on Friday. But they Saturday was a different story.

Tied 2-2 after the first period, NMU struggled to generate any more offense and lost 3-2.

Asked about his team’s inconsistency, Wildcats head coach Grant Potulny didn’t mince words about a lack of mental toughness.

“That’s the biggest thing,” he said. “You’ve shown the ability physically to do what you need to get done.

“I don’t have any interest in hearing about past results or past history. This team has shown me that they’re good enough. They’re not mentally tough enough. That’s why for me why teams are inconsistent.

“We’re a .500 hockey team. That’s what we are. That’s what we’ve earned. Until we can play two games in a row, we’re just going to be .500 and we’re just going to be average. I’m not going to stand for average. I’m not going to coach an average team. I’m disappointed in our effort.”

The Wildcats (8-8, 6-4 WCHA) earned first blood via Darien Craighead. With Northern on the power play in the first period, an NMU shot went off the boards to the sophomore winger, who flipped it in an open net at 13:48. Huntsville (6-9-1, 5-4-1) tied it 1-1 on a wrister from defenseman John Teets.

Less than a minute later, the Wildcats retook the lead when Adam Rockwood fed Troy Loggins at the point, who one-timed a shot past UAH goalie Jordan Uhelski. But the Chargers got the last word before intermission when Josh Kestner scored on a power play with 3 seconds left to retie it.

“We’re just not playing a full 60 minutes,” NMU senior Zach Diamantoni said. “That showed tonight. We didn’t show up for the first period and they kind of took it to us.”

Huntsville took the lead two minutes into the second period, when sloppy defense left Kestner open in the slot as he wristed the puck past Israelsson’s blocker. The Chargers nearly made it 4-2 on a great effort by Hans Gorowsky, who weaved around three NMU skaters and almost beat Israelsson to the near post.

NMU struggled to get anything going in the period until late, when defenseman Phil Beaulieu had a great look in the slot before Uhelski snared the shot.

The third period was pretty uneventful as NMU’s offensive woes continued and Uhelski everything that got to him.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is