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Northern Michigan University Wildcats’ special teams struggle again in 4-1 hockey loss to Lake Superior State

Northern Michigan University forwards Alex Frye, left, and Connor Marritt, right, battle for the puck with Lake Superior State’s Will Riedell along the boards in the Lakers’ defensive zone during the first period on Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Shannon Stieg)

MARQUETTE — Two things that have hurt the Northern Michigan University hockey team this year are bad starts and penalties. Both of those things continued to do so Friday night against Lake Superior State.

The Lakers got their first goal less than a minute into the game and scored another goal on the power play four minutes later on their way to a 4-1 victory over the Wildcats. NMU has now lost three straight, all of them at home.

Northern’s terrible start began just 28 seconds in. Northern defenseman Mason Palmer was called for tripping and 15 seconds after that, the Lakers were on the scoreboard with Pete Veillette collecting a rebound in the crease and lifting the puck over goalie Nolan Kent’s shoulder. At the 4:26 mark, LSSU struck again on the power play. This time with NMU forward David Keefer in the box for boarding, the Lakers’ Mitchell Oliver sent a shot from the left circle off the right post and past Kent to put Lake State up 2-0.

With around 12:30 remaining in the period, the Wildcats got their first chance on the power play thanks to a hooking call, but their struggles on the man advantage continued, registering only one shot on net that was saved by Lakers goalie Mareks Mitens. NMU’s only real scoring chance in the period came with 4:39 left as Mike Van Unen’s shot deflected off of Vincent de Mey and almost got past Mitens, but the netminder recovered and made the save by the right post.

In the second period, Northern had a power play carry over from the first and Alex Frye almost picked up the ‘Cats first goal, but his shot rang off the left post and the Lakers killed off their penalty. With 16:49 left, the Wildcats got another chance as Garrett Klee got a shot on net on an offensive rush that was stopped by Mitens and Klee was denied again on his rebound attempt.

While NMU couldn’t convert on their opportunities in the period, Lake State did. Just a couple seconds after the Wildcats killed off a Brett Willits penalty, the Lakers’ Louis Boudon got a cross-ice pass and one-timed a shot into an open net to pad their advantage to 3-0. LSSU almost went up by four goals twice while it tried to kill a holding penalty, but Joshua Wildauer’s shorthanded attempt was stopped by Kent and later, Ashton Calder’s shot went just wide of the net.

In the third period, NMU’s scoring drought came to an end. After getting stopped by the left post in the opening minute, Joe Nardi converted on his second golden chance as he one-timed a pass past Mitens and made the score 3-1 with the Wildcats on a 5-minute power play. That’s all Northern could manage with the big advantage, though.

The closest chance Northern had to cutting the deficit further came with about 9:20 left with A.J. Vanderbeck’s shot went off the crossbar. LSSU then capped off their win with an empty netter from Hampus Eriksson at the 18:19 mark.

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

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