|1st||7:02||BMJ||1-0||EV GW||Leo Fitzgerald (1)||Brendan Harms/1, Dan Billett/3|
|3rd||10:57||BMJ||2-0||PP||Jay Dickman (1)||Myles Fitzgerald/2, Kyle Bauman/1|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Bemidji State (3-0-0)||1/6||4/8||0|
|Northern Michigan (1-2-0)||0/4||6/12||0|
|Bemidji State Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Michael Bitzer (W, 3-0-0)||60:00||0||10||6||5||21|
|Northern Michigan Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Atte Tolvanen (L, 1-2-0)||58:29||2||5||14||11||30|
MARQUETTE, Mich. - Atte Tolvanen made 30 saves, but the Northern Michigan hockey team dropped a 2-0 decision to early WCHA frontrunner Bemidji State Friday night at the Berry Events Center in its home opener.
Leo Fitzgerald's first-period goal proved to be the game winner as Michael Bitzer made 21 saves to out-duel Tolvanen and send the Wildcats to 1-2 (0-1 WCHA) on the season.
Bitzer came up big in the first four minutes of the game, deflecting a Darien Craighead shot wide with his glove and then smothering a Robbie Payne bid seconds later.
At 7:02, Leo Fitzgerald gave the Beavers a 1-0 lead on a transition play. Brendan Harms sprung Fitzgerald with an outlet pass, and Fitzgerald got behind the defense and beat Tolvanen blocker side.
A few minutes later, Northern Michigan was awarded the first man advantage of the game. After taking a drop pass from Gerard Hanson along the boards, Luke Voltin found Sami Salminen in the slot, but Salminen's shot sailed high.
With less than two minutes remaining in the period, Tolvanen came up with a pad save on a Harms re-direction to keep the Wildcats within one tally.
In the scoreless second period, Anthony Paskaruk sprung Filip Starzynski for one of Northern Michigan's best looks at 5:09. Paskaruk disrupted a Beaver breakout and sent a pass to Starzynski alone on the edge of the left circle. Bitzer came up with the save on Starzynski's shot and then pounced on the rebound before a charging Denver Pierce could send it home.
Tolvanen made 14 saves in the second period, with one of his best coming at 7:55 when Zach Whitecloud's booming point shot hit the boards and bounced back in front. Charlie O'Connor got to the loose puck and fired it on net, but Tolvanen managed to send his bid wide.
Back-to-back penalty calls on Collin Peters and Connor Frantti put Northern Michigan on an extended 5-on-3 penalty kill with just over five minutes remaining in the second. Paskaruk, Jordan Klimek and Brock Maschmeyer held fast in front of Tolvanen, who made three saves during that sequence.
In the third period, the Wildcats spent extended time on the penalty kill, taking three of their six penalties. For that reason, they managed only five shots on net, and a power play goal by Jay Dickman at 10:57 capped the scoring for the Beavers.
Northern Michigan and Bemidji State wrap up their series tomorrow at 7:07 p.m.
NOTES: Bemidji State leads the all-time series 6-4-3 .... Tolvanen's 30 saves was his highest total of the 2016-17 campaign ... He reached the 30-save plateau 14 times as a freshman, with his career high total of 46 coming in the Wildcats' 0-0 tie against the Beavers on Oct. 30, 2015 ... Payne led Northern Michigan with four shots ... The teams combined to go 1/10 on the man advantage.