Another sweep: Northern Michigan University Wildcats hockey team wins 3rd, 4th games in a row to edge closer to .500
Up next: NMU at Bowling Green State, 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday; Radio: WUPT 100.3 FM the Point
MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University hockey team is easing ever closer to the .500 mark at 5-6-1 after a two-game sweep of Alaska-Fairbanks by identical 3-1 scores on Friday and Saturday nights at the Berry Events Center.
The Wildcats, who are also 3-3 in the CCHA, will try to raise both records above the .500 plateau on the road this weekend when they face league foe Bowling Green State at 7:07 p.m. both Friday and Saturday in Bowling Green, Ohio.
Here is a rundown on this past weekend:
NMU 3, Alaska-Fairbanks 1
On Friday evening, the first collegiate goal by Northern’s Matvei Kabanov was followed by goals from captains Andre Ghantous and Aiden Gallacher as sophomore goalie Charlie Glockner made 28 saves, including 12 in the opening period, for his second straight win.
Though the Wildcats were outshot 29-26, they killed all four of their shorthanded situations while scoring a power play goal themselves, the lone goal of the first period by Kabanov.
NMU’s Michael Van Unen led all skaters in the game with six blocks, while Gallacher had five, just a hint of things to come the following evening.
Kabanov got his goal in the final minute of the first, taking a give-and-go from Michael Colella and walking in on his defender, according to a game account from NMU Sports Information. Kabanov pulled the puck in with a toe drag and fired a shot that deflected off a body and in, NMU SI said.
Then less than two minutes into period No. 2, Ghantous walked off the left half-wall and to the slot, faking a pass before firing a wicked wrister over the glove of UAA goalie Pierce Charleson.
The Nanooks got one back less than six minutes later when Brady Risk fanned on a one-timer and the puck slid to teammate Harrison Israels rather unnoticed that he shot in to make it 2-1.
Gallacher sealed the result in the game’s final six seconds, scoring his first this season into an empty net from the other side of his own blue line.
On Saturday evening, it was a block party for the Wildcats as their skaters ran themselves into 41 shots, the second-most blocks in an NCAA Division I game since 2021 and tied for the sixth-most since blocks became a recorded statistic, according to NMU SI.
Tyrell Boucher and Colby Enns led Northern individually with seven blocks apiece, while Gallacher had six, Ghantous five, Josh Zinger four, Connor Eddy three and Grant Slukynsky two.
Glockner also did his job blocking out the Nanooks’ offense, making 31 saves that included 14 in the first period and 13 in the second. He had a shutout going until the final minute when UAF (6-5-1) scored with its goalie pulled for an extra attacker.
Northern, which won for the fifth time in six games at the BEC this season, had a slight edge in shots on goal, 32-31, as the Wildcats again killed all four of their shorthanded situations while scoring their first goal on a power play.
Despite a scoreless opening period, there was action as Glockner made a big glove save and teammate Tanner Latsch checked a Nanooks player into the Wildcats bench as NMU had 17 blocks in this frame.
Once the second period started, it didn’t take long for Northern to score. Less than a minute in and on a power play that extended from the previous period, Ghantous made a slick pass to Zinger, who slid the puck across the blue line to Kevin Marx Noren, according to NMU SI. Marx Noren let go a seeing-eye shot from the blue line that beat Charleson on his stick side 50 seconds in.
This gave Ghantous a three-point weekend as he had a goal and assist on Friday. Marx Noren has two goals and seven points in eight games and is on a four-game point streak.
Glockner again stopped Fairbanks on three of their power plays, making several sprawling saves.
The score didn’t change for more than 15 minutes of the third period, and then the goals started came in fast and furious.
Eddy made an excellent play at his own blue line, stripping the puck off a defender’s stick for a breakaway. Then he made a nice pump fake to freeze the goalie before making a move to the forehand and tucking it past Charleson with just over four minutes to go, according to NMU SI.
Gallacher intercepted a pass in the neutral zone and fired a shot toward the empty net, scoring exactly 90 seconds later for his second empty-net goal in as many games.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.