Keeping hope alive

By RYAN STIEG

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE – With home ice in the WCHA playoffs still a distinct possibility, Northern Michigan University did its part Friday to keep its hopes alive.

The Wildcats scored two power play goals in the second period and defeated rival Lake Superior State, 5-0, at the Berry Events Center.

NMU goalie Michael Doan earned his first career shutout after making 27 saves.

The win not only kept the Wildcats tied for fourth place in the conference, it also was a good morale boost for a team plagued by injuries.

“It was a really good effort,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We had a lot of guys that couldn’t play.

“We had a lot of guys in the lineup that played hurt and we had a lot of guys who don’t get a lot of minutes even when they do play. They had to bite on big minutes tonight.

“There’s a huge difference between conditioning in practice and playing seven or eight minutes in a game and game conditioning where you have to all of a sudden play 17 or 18 minutes,” he added. “I give those guys a lot of credit for doing that.”

Kyle also said NMU star goalie Mathias Dahlstrom will “not be back this season” (due to injury), so the Wildcats will be relying on Doan for the postseason.

“He (Doan) is going to be the guy we go with the rest of the way,” Kyle said. “He needs to find a rhythm and a confidence and the guys around him have to find a rhythm and a confidence in him.

“If he plays like that, they more they will. I thought he did a great job.”

When asked what it was like to get that monkey off his back, Doan seemed relieved.

“I forgot what if felt like,” he said. “It’s been about three years since I’ve had (a shutout).

“The guys played a really good game in front of me. They kept a lot of shots to the outside and we didn’t take too many penalties.

“It was one of those games where everything kind of fell into place,” he said.

The first period was a back-and-forth affair with both teams having scoring chances.

NMU had an opportunity early when a shot almost cut under Lake State goalie Gordon Defiel’s glove, but the freshman tucked in his elbow in time.

After the Lakers almost scored on an open net after Doan bobbled a rebound, the Wildcats took control of the puck and got on the scoreboard.

Senior Reed Seckel’s shot on net bounced off a defender and skittered past Defiel to put the Wildcats up 1-0 after one. This was the second straight game Seckel scored after being named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week.

The Wildcats started off hot in the second period. With the man advantage, Ryan Trenz’s shot from the blueline was tipped by Sami Salminen into the back of the net and the Wildcats went up 2-0.

A few minutes later, the Wildcats struck again on the power play. After a scrum in front of the net, the puck came free to Shane Sooth, who tucked it inside the right post for a three-goal NMU lead.

Lake State had a couple of scoring chances toward the end of the period, but Doan knocked the puck aside both times.

Up 3-0 in the third period, the Wildcats continued to maintain control of the puck and they put the game away with back-to-back goals late in the contest.

The first came on a bang-bang play from Darren Nowick to Brock Maschmeyer, who beat Defiel on the blocker side. That goal made Maschmeyer the team leader with nine.

Shortly after, Salminen scored his second goal of the game and the Wildcats cruised to their third win in a row.

When asked about his goal, Maschmeyer seemed impressed that the puck even went in.

“I was just there,” he said. “(Darren) Nowick made a great pass that went right to my stick and I put all my weight on my stick and the puck went into the net. It’s been a few games since I got one, so that was good.”

Added Kyle: “We talked before the game about that we need some big performances. I think Michael having a shutout, Sami having two goals, Brock having three points, Darren Nowick having two points – those are big efforts from guys who are big players for us and I give them a lot of credit for doing that.

“The one thing I told our guys is that it’s late in the year right now and we’re playing for something and I think that’s awesome,” he added.

“That’s the way teams grow and develop and I think that’s a really healthy thing. We should take advantage of that, appreciate that and run with that.”

The two teams will battle again at 7:07 tonight at the BEC.

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