EAST LANSING, Mich.-Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) used three special teams goal to seal a 4-3 victory over Michigan State University (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 Big Ten) Saturday evening. The victory secured a series split for the Wildcats to begin the 2018-19 campaign
NARDI GETS THINGS STARTED
After a scoring correction took away sophomore forward Joseph Nardi's (Edmonton, Alberta) first goal of the season, he left little doubt as to who scored the first goal of the game Saturday evening. His first goal of 2018-19 came just 7:11 into the game with assists going to junior forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) and sophomore defenseman Robert Fosdick (Brookfield, Wisconsin). For both Nardi and Craighead, it was their second points in as many nights.
Early in the second period, the Spartans managed to tie the game at one goal each on a power play goal but their lead was short-lived. Senior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) found the back of the net for the first time this season while the Wildcats were a man down. Senior defenseman Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota) picked up his first assist of the season on the goal.
Last season, the Wildcats netted nine short handed goals to lead the NCAA Division II. Through the first two weekends of the 2018-19 campaign, NMU is one of 13 teams to score a shorthanded goal.
MORE SPECIAL TEAMS
Just before the end of the second period, NMU found another special teams goal in the power play. At 18:01 the Wildcat captain scored his first goal of the season. Senior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) put NMU ahead, 3-1, with assists gong to Rockwood and senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California). For Rockwood it was his second point of the game and third of the series.
CRAIGHEAD TO THE RESCUE
MSU managed to quickly offset the two Wildcats goals in the second period with a pair of their own early in the third period. The Spartans netted two goals just 40 seconds apart in the opening minutes of the final period to tie the game at three goals each.
It didn't take NMU long to regain their lead courtesy of Craighead and his second goal of the series. At 6:29 of the third period, Craighead scored while the Wildcats were in the power-play with help from junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota). The goal gave NMU a 4-3 advantage that would last the rest of the way to seal a series split with Michigan St. to open the season.
Craighead finished the game with two points, along with Rockwood. He was the lone Wildcat to score multiple goals on the weekend, netting one each night.
BETWEEN THE PIPES
In his 100th appearance for the Wildcats, senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) stopped 26 shots to finish the weekend with 67 saves. His record moves to 1-1-0 after the first series of the season while his save percentage is at .918.
Tolvanen has made his mark in the Wildcat record book in his 100 appearances. His 42 wins are sixth-most in program history while his career goals against average of 2.45 is third-best in Wildcat history. Tolvanen's .918 career save percentage is tied for third-best in the NMU record book.
The Wildcats will continue their four-game road trip to start their season next week when they travel to No. 3/5 St. Cloud State University. The series will take place Friday and Saturday evening in the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center with puck drop set for 8:07 p.m. on Friday and 7:07 p.m. on Saturday.
NMU and SCSU have not faced off against each other since the 2012-13 season when the Wildcats won a pair of games on the road. Dating back to October of 2011, NMU has one four-consecutive contests against the Huskies.