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Double the honors: Northern Michigan University Wildcats’ Ben Newhouse, Michael Van Unen earn WCHA weekly awards

Northern Michigan University defenseman Michael Van Unen, left, watches as the puck bounces in front of Wildcats goaltender Nolan Kent as Alabama-Huntsville player Tyr Thompson looks on during their WCHA game played Nov. 2 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

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NMU at Bowling Green State, at Bowling Green, Ohio, Friday and Saturday, Jan. 3-4

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MARQUETTE — Northern Michigan University hockey defenseman Ben Newhouse and defenseman-turned-forward Michael Van Unen earned weekly awards Monday from the WCHA after the Wildcats split at home against the nation’s No. 1 team over the weekend.

Newhouse, a junior from Edina, Minnesota, earned WCHA Defenseman of the Week after scoring the game-winning goal against Minnesota State-Mankato in Saturday’s 4-1 win, while Van Unen, a freshman from Kamloops, British Columbia, was named Rookie of the Week after scoring his first collegiate goal and also getting his first collegiate multipoint game in the victory.

These are the first league weekly honors bestowed upon these players.

Northern Michigan University's Michael Van Unen works the puck against Alabama-Huntsville on Nov. 1 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Trinity Carey)

Newhouse already had an assist in Friday’s 5-2 loss before scoring NMU’s second goal, also his first collegiate game winner, on Saturday during a power play with a little under six minutes remaining in the second period. The goal broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Wildcats’ a 2-1 lead that remained until teammates Andre Ghantous and Griffin Loughran smacked in empty-netters in the game’s final 91 seconds.

Newhouse was also credited for his contributions in the defensive zone during the weekend against the Mavericks, who entered the weekend at 14-1-1. He had a league-leading eight blocked shots during the two games, including five on Friday night against one of the country’s top scoring teams.

Van Unen opened the scoring Saturday with a goal not quite three minutes into the second period, later assisting on Newhouse’s game-winner for a two-point night. The offensive-minded defenseman moved into a forward position for this series, though he also blocked four shots in the victory.

His two weekend points ranked third among all WCHA skaters for the weekend and first among rookies, while his plus-three on-ice rating was a league best for those days.

Last weekend’s pair of contests were the Wildcats’ only games in December as they’ll get back in action with a trip to Ohio to face Bowling Green State on Jan. 3-4 in a rematch of last season’s WCHA playoff semifinals.

Northern Michigan University’s Ben Newhouse sets up for his shot just before scoring the game winner against Minnesota State-Mankato on Saturday night at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Corey Kelly)

NMU (9-7-2, 7-5 WCHA) returns home the following weekend to host Alaska-Anchorage on Jan. 10-11, its only home games until Jan. 31.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.

Michael Van Unen

Ben Newhouse