Northern icers lose ground

MARQUETTE One night after shutting out rival Lake Superior State in dominant fashion, Northern Michigan University was on the receiving end of a hockey shutout Saturday.

The Wildcats let in three third period goals and fell to the Lakers 3-0.

Lake State also outshot NMU 44-39, and Lakers’ goalie Gordon Defiel picked up his fifth shutout of the year. After Bemidji State tied Ferris State, the Wildcats fell one point behind the Beavers in the race for the last home WCHA playoff spot.

NMU went into the weekend with a roster devastated by injuries. The Wildcats rolled with only three right wingers Saturday and had players playing different positions.

“We played five ‘D’ all weekend,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “One of the ‘D’ is a forward, (NMU captain Ryan) Kesti, and it was gonna catch us.

“I knew the third period was going to be tough. If we were going to get that game, we were going to have to get some goals early and maybe play a solid defensive game late. But we didn’t. We got behind.

“I think (the Lakers) scored three goals on three shots. With that lineup, we generated 39 shots with eight guys that aren’t in the lineup on a regular basis,” he added.

“Those guys played hard and they did what we needed them to do. They didn’t get the win, but I give them a lot of credit.”

The game began with the Wildcats back on their heels. NMU was called for two early penalties and the Lakers had some nice scoring opportunities in front of the net.

However, goaltender Michael Doan was able to stay strong and made a handful of stops to keep the Lakers at bay.

Lake State peppered Doan for 18 shots in the frame and moved the puck efficiently throughout the period. NMU mustered some offense later on in the period, but couldn’t get anything past Defiel.

The second period was similar to the first as the Lakers were aggressive early. However, Doan was able to turn the shots aside.

Lake State’s best chance scoring occurred midway through the period when Doan seemed to think the puck hit the net hanging behind the goal.

It didn’t and dropped right in the middle of the crease, but the ensuing Lake State shot went wide.

It took the Wildcats a while to get something going offensively, but eventually, they started to buzz around the net.

NMU had a great opportunity when Defiel fell down in the crease, but the Wildcats couldn’t poke the puck through the scrum and the period ended scoreless again.

The goaltending duel ended quickly in the third. Shortly after a NMU shot hit the pipe, the Lakers went on a 2 on 1 breakaway and Alex Globke beat Doan glove side.

Less than a minute later, Doan lost his stick and just moments after he got it back, Lake State struck again on his left side to go up 2-0.

The Lakers got their last tally midway through the frame when Stephen Perfetto broke to the net and scored near the left post.

Doan was then pulled for Derek Dun for the remainder of the game and Lake State was able to earn a win to stay in the playoff hunt.

“On the first goal, we had a ‘D’ go down and pinch,” Kyle said. “He got caught low and a forward didn’t hold and recover for him and that was a 2 on 1. They made a goal-mouth pass and Jordan Klimek almost had it. There’s no fault on Michael on that one.

“The second was a bad goal. I think Michael should’ve had that. He lost his stick and that added to the confusion.

“He got down and was caught between getting his stick and stopping the puck. That should be an easy choice.

“Then the next one, we gave up a breakaway,” Kyle added. “We had three guys get beat on the play. After three goals on three shots, we got Dun in there.”

One positive to come out of the evening was that the Wildcats were able to win the Cappo Cup after finishing with a 3-1 record against the Lakers this season.

“It means a lot to this area, it means a lot to this university and I know it means a lot to Walt,” Kesti said.

“No matter what, they’re a U.P. rival and that’s a big deal to take care of those games.”

The Wildcats now prepare for archrival Michigan Tech next weekend. NMU will play in Houghton Friday and at the Berry Events Center Saturday.

Both games will start at 7:07 p.m. and will be televised by TV6.

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