EAST LANSING - The Northern Michigan University hockey team jumped past the dormant Michigan Wolverines on Friday night and into ninth place in the CCHA via a 5-3 victory over the Michigan State Spartans at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing.
The Wildcats and Spartans meet again tonight at 7:35 p.m. at Munn on Fox Sports Detroit.
Northern picked up two goals and two assists from its leading scorers in senior forward Matt Thurber and sophomore forward Reed Seckel. Their linemate, junior Erik Higby, had a goal and assist as well.
Thurber, who leads the team in scoring with five goals and 25 assists, gave NMU a 3-0 lead 17:38 into the second period. He then put the 'Cats ahead 4-2 17:35 into the third period after the Spartans scored two goals in five minutes to pull within one.
Seckel, with 10 assists and a team-high 12 goals, put Sparty down 2-0 at 13:21 of the first period. He added an empty net goal with 11 seconds to play after the Spartans once again pulled within one of NMU with 39 seconds left on the clock.
Thurber and Seckel both assisted in Higby's goal 10:54 into the game that gave the 'Cats a 1-0 lead.
NMU 5, Michigan State 3
Northern Michigan2 1 2 - 5
Michigan State0 0 3 - 3
First period - 1, NMU, Erik Higby/6 (Reed Seckel/9, Matt Thurber/23) 10:54. 2, NMU, Reed Seckel/11 (Ryan Trenz/2, Matt Thurber/24) 13:21.
Second period - 3, NMU, Matt Thurber/4 (Reed Seckel/10, Brian Nugent/2) 17:38 (pp).
Third period - 4, MSU, Berry, Matt/12 (Walsh, Travis/7) 9:41. 5, MSU, Chelios, Jake/4 (Draeger, John/5, Berry, Matt/10) 14:52 (pp). 6, NMU, Matt Thurber/5 (Austin Handley/2, Erik Higby/10) 17:35. 7, MSU, Darnell, Brent/8 19:21. 8, NMU, Reed Seckel/12 19:49 (empty net).
Shots on goal: NMU 16-6-12 34; MSU 10-9-15 34.
Power plays: NMU 1 of 4; MSU 1 of 3.
Penalties: NMU 5 (10 min); MSU 7 (22 min).
Goalies: NMU, Jared Coreau 13-14-4 (60:00 minutes, 34 shots-31 saves); MSU, Hildebrand, Jake 5-14-2 (59:08, 33-29).
Thurber and Seckel also assisted each other on their first goals of the night, while Higby assisted on Thurber's second goal.
NMU freshman defenseman Ryan Trenz, junior defenseman Austin Handley and junior forward Brian Nugent also had assists in the win.
NMU junior goaltender Jared Coreau made 31 saves for the Wildcats while MSU freshman netminder Jake Hildebrand finished with 29 saves - 14 came in the first period.
All three Spartan goals came in the third period with Matt Berry and Jake Chelios cutting Northern's lead to 3-2 with 5:08 to play and Brent Darnell scoring whole the Spartans net was empty with 39 seconds to play in regulation.
The Wildcats (13-14-4 overall, 7-12-4 in CCHA) now sit alone in ninth place after beating the last-place Spartans (10-18-2, 7-15-2). Michigan is off this weekend.
Lake Superior State (14-16-1, 9-13-1) routed Alaska 5-1 in Sault Ste. Marie to remain three points up on NMU in eighth while Bowling Green State (12-14-5, 9-11-3) rallied to top Ferris State in Big Rapids, 2-1, in overtime to stay five points up on the 'Cats in seventh.
NMU travels to BGSU next weekend, then closes at home against LSSU on March 1-2.