2020-21 WCHA Game Recap

Sophomore forward AJ Vanderbeck had two goals and two assists for the Wildcats
Vanderbeck's Four Points Lead Northern Michigan Past Alabama Huntsville, 8-2
Sophomore forward AJ Vanderbeck had two goals and two assists for the Wildcats

MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The Northern Michigan University hockey program fought hard Wednesday night, looking to avenge their previous night's loss as they upended the Chargers of the University of Alabama Huntsville, 8-2, in game two of the conference series.

At 4:36 of the first period the Wildcats hit twine as sophomore AJ Vanderbeck gave NMU the 1-0 lead with 15:24 to play in the opening frame.

Just 56 seconds later the Wildcats extended the lead to two-goals when Mikey Colella scored his first collegiate goal, with assists to Joseph Nardi and Andre Ghantous as the three secured their respective point-streaks early.

The Wildcat dominance continued as Vanderbeck scored his second of the night at 7:12 of the opening period as NMU took the 3-0 lead with just under 13 minutes left to play in the first.

Griffin Loughran found the back of the net to conclude the Wildcat's four-goal first period with 2:01 left to play in the frame. The Wildcats would carry their four-goal lead into the first intermission, outshooting their opponent 12-5.

After a hot start in the first period, the Wildcat offensive efforts refused to let up as Mike Van Unen made it a 5-0 game with 13:42 to play in the middle period.

Brandon Schultz highlighted the box score at 10:48 of the second period as he fired one top shelf to make it a 6-0 game.

UAH broke the shutout bid at 14:07 of the middle frame as a shot fired from the far circle beat DiMatteo glove side for their first goal of the period as NMU held a 6-1 lead.

After two periods the Wildcats continued to outshoot the Chargers, 25-14, while leading 6-1 on the scoreboard.

The Wildcats would score another early in the third period, a power play goal courtesy of Andre Ghantous at 3:36 of the final period, giving NMU the 7-1 lead.

With under two minutes to play in regulation the Chargers struck for a second time, cutting the Wildcats' lead to five-goals with 1:47 to play, as a two-on-one rush found UAH beat DiMatteo high blocker side.

Tim Erkkila scored the first goal of his career at 18:51 of the final period to wrap things up for the final 8-2 tally.

Rico DiMatteo picked up his fourth win of his collegiate career as the Wildcats improved to 8-12-0 and 6-4-0 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association contests.


- AJ Vanderbeck opened the scoring with a sniper out front to give his Wildcats the early 1-0 lead with assists to David Keefer and Ben Newhouse.

- Less than a minute later Mikey Colella scored the first of his career to make it 2-0 NMU with 14 minutes still to play in the first period. His shot found the back of the net having been set up by the power duo of Joseph Nardi and Andre Ghantous. The three men have each tallied at least one point in each of the last four games.

- The offensive power continued when Vanderbeck scored his second of the period at 7:12 of the first to extend the Wildcat lead to 3-0. His shot from the slot beat the UAH netminder to light the lamp just two minutes and 36 seconds after his first goal. Keefer and Brandon Schultz each recorded an assist on the goal.

- With a little over two minutes to play in the first period, Griffin Loughran's shot trickled through the five-hole of the Chargers' goaltender for the 4-0 NMU lead.

- Mike Van Unen fired a shot off the pipe and into the back of the net to make it a 5-0 game at 6:16 of the second period. Vanderbeck and Schultz both assisted on the rush, picking up their third and second points of the game, respectively.

- Schultz put the Wildcats up 6-0 just over halfway through the second period as he gathered Keefer's rebound and sent it up just under the crossbar for his third point of the night. Vanderbeck also tallied an assist on the goal.

- Ghantous scored the extra point to put the Wildcats up 7-1 with a power play tally at 3:26 of the third period. Loughran and Nardi each picked up an assist on the play.

- Tim Erkkila added to the Wildcats' tally with a shot at 1:09 that snuck under the right skate of UAH's Krall in net for his first collegiate tally. Fellow rookie Mack Byers recorded the lone assist on the goal.


- The Wildcats outshot the Chargers, 29-20, on the night while Rico DiMatteo recorded 18 saves in the win for a .900 save percentage.

- AJ Vanderbeck boasted a career-best and team-leading four points on the night as he tallied two goals and added another two apples to his Wednesday night total.

- Seven Wildcats, including Vanderbeck, recorded multi-point games as David Keefer (0-3-3), Brandon Schultz (1-2-3), Mike Van Unen (1-1-2), Joseph Nardi (0-2-2), Griffin Loughran (1-1-2) and Andre Ghantous (1-1-2) all highlighted the box score multiple times.

- Two rookies net their first collegiate goals in the contest as Mikey Colella and Tim Erkkila each found the back of the net Wednesday night.

- Vanderbeck's two goals came just 2:36 apart in the opening period while Colella nestled a goal between Vanderbeck's first and second.

- 5th -- With an average of 1.30 points per game, Nardi ranks fifth nationally as the team-leader in points and boasts 26 points off nine goals and 17 assists.

- 5th -- Andre Ghantous boasts 14 assists in just 16 games played for an average of 0.88 assists per game which is fifth in the country.

- 7th -- Scoring the game-winning goal at 7:12 of the opening period give Vanderbeck his third of the season which is seventh best in the nation.

- 9th -- Nardi's 17 assists in 20 games played averages out to 0.85 a/gm and is ranked ninth overall in the NCAA.

- 10th -- Ghantous has a point in each of his last nine games and ranks 10th in the nation in points per game (1.25; 6-14-20).

- 10th -- Vanderbeck's two goal night improves him to a team-leading 12 goals on the season for an average of 0.60 goals per game, the 10th best average in the country.

- Three Wildcats continue to ride point-streaks into their upcoming weekend series as Ghantous, Nardi and Colella boast multiple points in their last few games. Ghantous leads the charge with at least one point in each of his last nine games. His two point night in the Wildcats' victory over UAH brings him to 6-12-18 in his last nine outings, a career-long run.

- Nardi picked up two assists Wednesday night against UAH to extend his streak to six games and 11 points off four goals and seven assists. The team-leader in points with 26 is now just eight points away from the elusive triple figures.

- Since scoring his first collegiate point off an assist at Bemidji State last Friday, Colella has a point in each of his last four games, including his first collegiate goal in Wednesday's contest for a four-game total of a goal and three assists.


The Wildcats remain at home as they face off against the 13th-ranked Falcons of Bowling Green State University this Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 20-21.

Puck drop is set for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 20, before a 4 p.m. start the following day to conclude their four-game home stand.

Game Summary

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Game statistics
20 Shots 29
0 / 4 Power Plays 1 / 4
6 / 20 PIM 5 / 10
3-10-1 Records 8-12-0
Alabama Huntsville Northern Michigan
AJ Vanderbeck (11)
Mikey Colella (1)
AJ Vanderbeck (12)
1st/7:12  GW
Griffin Loughran (4)
Michael Van Unen (3)
Brandon Schultz (4)
Bauer Neudecker (5)
André Ghantous (6)
3rd/3:26 PP
Quinn Green (2)
Tim Erkkila (1)
Alabama Huntsville Northern Michigan
Derek Krall
60:00, 21 Saves, 8 GA
(L, 0-5-0)
Rico DiMatteo
60:00, 18 Saves, 2 GA
(W, 4-1-0)