NMU hockey: Wildcats move into sixth in WCHA via 5-4 win over Alaska Nanooks

MARQUETTE – Any extra energy the Northern Michigan University hockey team accrued during their bye a week ago was wasted against the Alaska Nanooks on Friday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

The Wildcats gave up three power play goals on six Nanooks man advantages, but still hung on for a 5-4 victory to leap past Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech from eight to sixth in the WCHA standings.

The Wildcats (9-10-2 overall, 7-5-1 in WCHA) and Nanooks (8-11-4, 5-10-2), who split a two-game series Nov. 1-2 in Fairbanks, meet again tonight at 7:07 p.m. with the ‘Cats within striking distance of a tie for fifth in the league with Alaska-Anchorage – next weekend’s opponent.

“I’m really happy to get the win, but I don’t think we played well,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said.

“We were sloppy tonight. We weren’t even undisciplined, we were stupid. A lot of the penalties we took were bad stick penalties. They were penalties where if we were sharper, we wouldn’t force ourselves to take those penalties.”

Northern was whistled eight times for 27 penalty minutes, resulting in six Alaska power plays.

The Nanooks converted on three of the six chances to take a 1-0 lead 9:21 into the first period on a goal by junior forward Garrick Perry and to pull within a goal twice in the six-goal third period.

NMU senior forward Erik Higby put the ‘Cats ahead 3-1 42 seconds into the third period, but a slashing call on NMU freshman forward Shane Sooth led to Alaska freshman forward Brandon Morley scoring power play goal at 3:19 of the third to make it 3-2.

NMU freshman forwards John Siemer and Gerard Hanson – both playing their first home games as Wildcats on Friday – scored their first collegiate goals in the third with Siemer converting on the power play at 5:43 and Hanson scoring at 10:19.

Both were negated by the Nanooks within minutes via goals by sophomore forward Tyler Morley at 8:58 and by sophomore defenseman Colton Parayko at 11:31.

Parayko’s goal came a power play that resulted from a tripping call on NMU freshman Barrett Kaib 30 seconds following Hanson’s goal.

Of the eight penalties taken by NMU on Friday, five could be classified as stick penalties such as hooking, high sticking, tripping or slashing.

“We need to be more responsible,” NMU junior forward Ryan Kesti said. “I think we have a long ways to go.”

Kesti gave the Wildcats a 2-1 lead 3:13 into the second period with his after his short-range blast trickled past Alaska sophomore goaltender John Keeney.

Kesti’s first goal of the season and third as a Wildcat came about a minute after NMU killed off a five-minute major on junior forward Reed Seckel, who was called for checking from behind and ejected for a third time this season.

The ‘Cats picked up a shorthanded goal during the second half of the kill, however, when NMU junior Ryan Daugherty scored on a one-on-one breakaway against Keerney at 1:08 of the second to tie the game at 1-1.

It was only the third goal of the season for Daugherty, who put in 10 goals as a sophomore a year ago.

“He’s had a couple of those and he put those in last year,” Kyle said about Daugherty’s shorthanded goal. “That was a typical shorthanded goal that he had last year and it was good to see him do it.”

Notes: NMU redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom made 28 saves for NMU. The Wildcats were outshot 32-17 on Friday, but that margin was 22-9 after two periods thanks to a 13-5 advantage for Alaska in the second period. NMU junior defensemen Luke Eibler and Jake Baker each had two assists, but Baker was whistled for two penalties less than two minutes apart in the first period. Seckel received his second game misconduct of the season with his major for checking from behind. One more game misconduct results in a one-game suspension for Seckel, who already missed a game on Nov. 30 for a disqualification he received for fighting on Nov. 29 against Ferris State. His 79 penalty minutes leads the nation.