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Wildcats top Beavers, 3-1

MARQUETTE After a rare scoreless tie Friday night, Northern Michigan University and Bemidji State put some goals on the board Saturday.

In the end, it was the Wildcats who put more in the net as they defeated the Beavers 3-1 despite being outshot 35-22.

NMU held a 36-22 faceoff advantage over BSU after two periods.

Freshman goalie Atte Tolvanen made 34 saves to earn his second win of the season. He made 46 saves Friday for a weekend total of 80.

“I thought we played much better,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “(Friday) night, the game was at times for us, like watching paint dry. We couldn’t put passes together.

“I gave our leaders a lot of credit. I got into some of the guys’ pockets today and called some guys out and the leadership really took over.

“I think they did a great job getting the guys ready to play and I’m much happier with our effort,” he added.

Bemidji State tallied the first goal of the game with the man advantage. A wrist shot by Graeme McCormack was tipped in front by Cory Ward and over Tolvanen’s shoulder.

However, NMU tied it at 1-1 five minutes later on a ricochet. Northern winger Robbie Payne was open in front of the Bemidji net and his shot went off of goalie Michael Bitzer’s leg and into the net.

The goal was Payne’s fourth of the season and he was assisted by Gerard Hanson and Shane Sooth.

The second period was penalty-laden with the highlights being BSU going to the box for the second time for too many men on the ice and NMU defenseman Brock Maschmeyer being whistled emphatically for tripping.

However, neither team was able to capitalize on their opportunities.

At the 14:12 mark, NMU winger Cohen Adair notched his first goal of the year when his shot beat Bitzer glove side.

“That was the first goal in a long time for me,” Adair said with a laugh. “I forgot what it felt like to actually score.

“At first, I couldn’t believe it because it’s been so long and I really didn’t know what to do. That’s the most excited I’ve felt in a very long time.

“I just buried my head and shot,” he said. “It wasn’t even a good shot. It just fluttered into the net, but I’ll take it.”

Kyle was pleased with his winger’s overall performance, not just with his goal.

“I think more importantly than the goal was that Cohen’s quality of play was very good,” he said “He finished his checks, he was strong on the puck down low and he played with a lot of speed.”

After killing off a penalty at the start of the third, NMU stayed in control of the puck for the first few minutes of the period.

Bemidji’s first chance to tie the game came with 13 minutes left as Beavers winger John Parker had Tolvanen beaten glove side, but the puck went into the netting behind the goal.

Bemidji started to put more pressure on the Wildcats defense as the period went on.

The Beavers caught a break with eight minutes left as Adair was whistled for hooking. Bemidji had a point-blank scoring opportunity on the power play, but Tolvanen slid across the crease and denied Jay Dickman with a kick save.

“He (Tolvanen) played really well, especially down the stretch,” Kyle said.

“That save he made when they were on the power play, and when they passed across the crease, that was like the save of the year.”

With four seconds left in the third, NMU center Darren Nowick clinched the win for the Wildcats with an unassisted empty-netter off the face-off.

The Wildcats travel to Alaska-Fairbanks next weekend. Both Friday’s and Saturday’s games start at 11:07 p.m. EST.

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