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Wildcats battle for second straight tie

By RYAN STIEG

Journal Sports Writer

MARQUETTE – It’s no secret that hockey games can go from fast-paced to rough and dirty in a matter of minutes and that’s what happened Saturday night at the Berry Events Center.

After a first period that involved some crisp passing and nice scoring opportunities for both teams, Northern Michigan University and Minnesota State combined for four five-minute major penalties over the course of the next two periods.

Despite being heavily outshot at 35-13, the Wildcats managed to fight the Mavericks to a 2-2 draw and finished off the weekend with two points in the WCHA. NMU goalie Atte Tolvanen finished with 33 saves.

“I thought in the first period we were pretty good, but in the second period we had to kill those two fives and when that happened, they got way ahead of us in shots,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We had a lot of guys tired and then we were short two guys up front. It was a real battle.

“I thought Atte played well and that our penalty killers were great. I thought our penalty killers were the star of the weekend for us.

“They’re a really good team and we were able to get two points out of them. I’m not happy with all of the things that we did, but I am happy with the result.”

In the first period, play was fairly even as both squads got good shots off and were backstopped by their goalies. After their first shots went high over the crossbar, NMU got on the board on a low one. Wildcats winger Cohen Adair fired a shot at MSU goalie Jason Pawloski, who made the save, but left a rebound on the doorstep. NMU forward Zach Diamantoni then fired the puck into the open net to put the Wildcats up 1-0.

The lead didn’t last long though. Mankato got several shots off in a matter of seconds and after Tolvanen made two saves in a row, Mavericks defenseman David Brickley tucked the puck under the freshman’s pads to tie the game.

In the rough second period, NMU took the first major penalty. Wildcats forward Troy Loggins was called for contact to the head and received a game misconduct. While attempting to kill the penalty, NMU winger Dominik Shine was whistled for the same thing a couple minutes later. Over a long 10 minutes, Tolvanen and his defense weathered the storm and kept the game tied.

Late in the period, MSU picked up its five-minute call when C.J. Franklin was called for charging. Franklin plowed into Tolvanen after he made a save and NMU capitalized on the miscue. After Wildcats defenseman Jordan Klimek fired a slap shot at the net, forward John Siemer tipped it past Pawloski to give Northern a 2-1 lead.

Early in the third period, MSU tied the game on a lucky bounce. After circling the net and getting a handful of shots on net, the puck rang off the post to Franklin who beat Tolvanen blocker-side. Mankato continued to pummel the NMU defense with shots for the remainder of the period, but the Mavericks were kept off the scoreboard.

In the extra session, both teams failed to convert on power plays with Mankato’s coming off a roughing call on Tolvanen.

NMU winger Zach Diamantoni felt that the team made progress as the weekend went on.

“I don’t think we started off well Friday, but today we took some steps in the right direction.” he said.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-250, ext 246. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal. net.