Icers suffer sweep

By RYAN STIEG

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE – After coming up short Friday and having a late goal taken away, the Northern Michigan University hockey team skated into Saturday’s contest with a little jump in its skates.

That jump disappeared in the second period as Bemidji State blitzed the Wildcats for three second period goals and beat NMU 5-1.

The Wildcats dropped four points to the Beavers on the weekend and are now tied with BSU in the WCHA standings. As a result of the sweep, NMU is also tied with the Beavers for the last home playoff spot.

Despite the outcome, NMU head coach Walt Kyle was feeling positive after the game.

“I liked it, I’ve got to be honest, I liked it,” he said. “There certainly were things I didn’t like.

“I didn’t like our ability to convert on our power plays. I didn’t like some of the turnovers in the second by our defensemen. That’s when they created goals.

“The message we sent our guys is ‘let’s get some pucks to the net, let’s get some opportunities’ and we did that,” he added.

“I thought for long periods of play that we controlled the play. We weren’t able to score, but we controlled the play.”

Just like the previous game, the Beavers started off as the aggressors with a handful of scoring opportunities in front of the net. However, Wildcats goalie Michael Doan survived the scrum and kept BSU off the scoreboard.

Later in the period, the roles were reversed as NMU fired several shots at Beavers goalie Michael Bitzer and almost scored twice.

Even though the game remained scoreless, the Wildcats went into the break with a 5-on-3 power play.

However, the Wildcats weren’t able to get anything out of that two-man advantage and things went quickly downhill for NMU after that.

At the 3:37 mark, BSU’s Charlie O’Connor fired a wrist shot over Doan’s left shoulder. Two minutes later, the Beavers scored again, this time on an easy opportunity.

The puck sat in the crease for a full three seconds and Philip Brewer tapped it in as the Wildcats stood stunned around the net.

Finally, at the 9:35 mark, Brendan Harms lifted a shot at the net that ended up flipping past Doan and BSU went into the break up 3-0.

“We had some turnovers,” NMU captain Ryan Kesti said. “Good teams take advantage of other teams’ mistakes and that’s what they did tonight.

“I was really proud of our effort. I thought throughout the majority of the game we dictated the pace, which is something we’ve looked to do.

“In the second period, they capitalized on the chances they had and we didn’t,” he added.

The Wildcats got on the board in the third period when John Siemer fired a snap shot past Bitzer’s glove, but that was the only bright spot for NMU.

Doan left the net to play the puck, which was then intercepted by the Beavers and fired it into the empty net. Late in the third, NMU was burned again as BSU scored an empty-netter to clinch the victory and the sweep.

“That was a bad play by Michael Doan,” Kyle said. “He can’t do that. He’s got to be more patient than that. That was a tough one because at that time too, we were creeping back in it.”

Siemer’s goal ended a personal drought. He said it was nice to get back on the scoresheet.

“I came off the bench and the puck came right to me,” he said.

“I saw that they were going for a line change, so I just came down and kind of gave it my all. Obviously, it’s nice to get the monkey off the back, but I wish it would’ve been under better circumstances.”

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.