Doubling down again: Northern Michigan University Wildcats hockey team gets 2 weekly league awards for 2nd time in 3 weeks

Positioned for a screen in front of St. Cloud State goalie David Hrenak, back right, Northern Michigan University’s Darien Craighead, front right, gets tripped up by the Huskies’ Nick Perbix iin a game at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Nov. 9. (Photo courtesy Daryl T. Jarvinen)

Up next: Ferris State at Northern Michigan, 7 p.m. Friday,

6 p.m. Saturday; Radio: WUPT The Point 100.3 FM


MARQUETTE — For the second time in three weeks, a pair of Northern Michigan University hockey players earned weekly awards from the WCHA.

After wins in overtime and regulation at Alaska-Fairbanks, the Wildcats’ AJ Vanderbeck earned WCHA Rookie of the Week honors and Darien Craighead the WCHA Forward of the Week.

Two weeks ago, Vincent de Mey was named top forward and Nolan Kent the top goaltender for a home sweep of Alaska-Anchorage.

Northern Michigan University’s Darien Craighead looks for a teammate to pass to against Michigan State during their college hockey game on Oct. 11 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal file photo by Amy Grigas)

NMU claimed five of a possible six points over the weekend to leapfrog the Nanooks and move into third place in the league with about a month left to the regular season.

Vanderbeck totaled five points and Craighead four as the Wildcats officially tied UAA 4-4 on Friday, though they won the game with a Joe Nardi goal in the second 3-on-3 overtime period, then won in regulation 4-2 on Saturday.

Both weekly honors were firsts for Vanderbeck and Craighead.

Vanderbeck, who had the game-winning goal and three points on Saturday, wasn’t eligible to play until this month.

He had two assists on Friday before adding a goal and two assists Saturday to lead the nation with four assists and place second with five points for the weekend.

AJ Vanderbeck

Having played just six conference games, his nine points ranks him ninth among all league rookies and his 1.50 points per game leads the WCHA.

Craighead scored two goals Saturday after tallying two assists Friday. His two goals were tied for a league best while his four points ranked second only to Vanderbeck. With 21 points this season with eight goals and 13 assists, Craighead is third among NMU scorers.

The Wildcats return to the Berry Events Center for the first time in several weeks when they face Ferris State at 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier this season, Northern swept the Bulldogs with 4-3 and 6-4 wins in Big Rapids on Oct. 25-26 for their first road sweep of the season.

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

Darien Craighead