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Northern Michigan University Wildcats hockey team bounces back in big way, 8-2 over Alabama-Huntsville

From left, Northern Michigan University’s David Keefer looks for a teammate to pass to as Alabama-Huntsville’s Jonah Alexander and Brian Scoville defend during the second period on Wednesday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Photo courtesy Shannon Stieg)

MARQUETTE — What a difference a day makes.

One night after the Northern Michigan University hockey team was surprised by an Alabama-Huntsville squad sporting some local Fox Motors jerseys it was forced to borrow, the Wildcats bounced back Wednesday and thumped the Chargers 8-2.

After failing to convert on an early power play, the Wildcats took advantage of its next scoring opportunity as A.J. Vanderbeck flung the puck from the left circle that got by Chargers goalie Derek Krall just 4:36 into the game.

Less than a minute later, Northern struck again as Mikey Colella got a pass from Andre Ghantous on a rush and beat Krall glove-side to make it 2-0. The Wildcats weren’t finished, though. Not even two minutes later, Vanderbeck scored off a rebound to pad NMU’s lead to 3-0.

At the other end of the ice, the Wildcats held Huntsville to just five shots and a big save by goalie Rico DiMatteo kept the Chargers off the scoreboard. With Northern trying to kill off a penalty, the freshman netminder slid over just in time to rob Chargers defenseman Dayne Finnson, who sent a one-timer at a wide-open net with around five minutes remaining.

Later with two minutes left, NMU forward Griffin Loughran capped off the offensive surge when he flicked the puck at the net from the Huntsville goal line as it managed to roll past Krall and put the Wildcats up 4-0.

Krall stepped up his game to start the second, making nice stops on Alex Frye, Hank Sorensen and Garrett Klee within the first six minutes. However, with 13:44 remaining, the Wildcats scored again when Mike Van Unen deflected a shot off the pipe and in. NMU pushed its advantage to six with 9:12 left when Brandon Schultz lifted a rebound over a prone Krall.

The Chargers did get a goal back with 5:53 left when Bauer Neudecker beat DiMatteo high from the left circle, but they still trailed by five going into the third.

Up big, Northern got its next goal after an interesting set of events. The Wildcats were originally killing off a penalty, but the Chargers were handed a bench minor penalty and game misconduct that was never announced. On that ensuing 4-on-4, Ghantous backhanded a shot from the slot past Krall to make it 7-1 Wildcats.

In the last two minutes, Huntsville trimmed its deficit to five on a nice snap shot by Quinn Green, but NMU answered back a few seconds later on a tally by Tim Erkkila to cap off the night.

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

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