BOWLING GREEN, Ohio - The Northern Michigan University hockey program advanced to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Semifinals with a dominating 5-1 victory over No. 13 Bowling Green State University, Sunday evening, in a win-or-go home matchup.
The Wildcats opened the scoring with a rebound out front as Vincent de Mey gave NMU the 1-0 lead at 5:33 of the first period.
BGSU picked up the pressure in the NMU zone as the Wildcats skated down a man but Rico DiMatteo stood tall in net, turning aside each shot faced for 11 saves through the first 15 minutes of action.
The Wildcats lit the lamp again in the first when Mikey Colella lifted the puck top shelf on BGSU's Dop for the 2-0 tally with 2:04 to go in the opening frame.
After one period of play, Rico DiMatteo boasted 18 saves to keep his Wildcats up 2-0 heading into the second.
The Wildcats saw themselves down a man partway through the second period but Rico DiMatteo stopped four hard shots while Ben Newhouse dove in front of two during the two-minute stretch to hold the 2-0 lead.
BGSU thought they had one back with six minutes left in the middle frame following a huge save by DiMatteo and ensuing block by Newhouse on the rebound. With green sweaters sprawled out in the crease and the puck out of sight, the officials blew the play dead prior to the Falcons' shot and the score stayed 2-0.
Two power play goals came in the final minutes of the second period as both teams found twine with the man-advantage. NMU struck first with a goal from the point by Joseph Nardi to make it 3-0 but the Falcons answered right back to make it 3-1 with a power play tally of their own with 1:12 to go in the frame.
The Wildcats had two shots hit pipe in the final 60 seconds of the period as they took the 3-1 lead into the final period of regulation.
NMU scored their fourth goal of the night, and second on the power play, at 6:02 of the third period as Colella gave the Wildcats the 4-1 lead.
An empty net goal from Ben Newhouse sealed the deal Sunday evening as the Wildcats advance to the WCHA Semifinals following a 5-1 victory over BGSU.
For the second consecutive night, DiMatteo set a career-best in saves, stopping 39 of 40 shots faced to propel NMU to the WCHA Semifinals next week.
- Vincent de Mey scored the first goal of the night, and first goal in the South net of the weekend series, at 5:33 of the opening period to give NMU the 1-0 lead. On his birthday, Connor Marritt sent a puck towards the net where de Mey buried it for the goal. David Keefer also picked up an assist on the play.
- A rush down the ice saw the Wildcats' top-line squaring up for their lethal production on net. Joseph Nardi passed the puck to Andre Ghantous who raced toward the Falcon net with Mikey Colella to his left. The rookie forward, Colella, flipped a quick wrist shot over the shoulder of Dop for the 2-0 score.
- As the Wildcats' second period power play chance dwindled down it was Joseph Nardi dancing around near the blueline as Rico DiMatteo hit his stick in the background. The senior captain fired a soft shot at 17:04 of the second which hit twine for the 3-0 tally.
- Mikey Colella scored his second of the night at 6:02 of the third period to give NMU the 4-1 lead. Andre Ghantous skated behind the net looking for an opportunity before passing the puck over to Colella for the fourth Wildcat goal of the night. AJ Vanderbeck earned his second assist of the game on the play.
- Ben Newhouse scored the final goal of the night with an empty netter at 18:08 of the third period, unassisted.
- Rico DiMatteo saved 39 shots on goal in the 5-1 victory Sunday night.
- Nine Wildcats highlighted the box score Sunday, including four with multiple points. Mikey Colella led the team with two goals on the evening while Joseph Nardi had a goal and assist, and Andre Ghantous and AJ Vanderbeck each had two assists.
- With his two goal night, Colella doubled his career-goals total and posted the first multi-goal game of his collegiate career.
- Vanderbeck led the team with eight shots on goal Sunday while de Mey posted five of the Wildcats' 34 shots.
- Two Wildcats combined for eight of the team's 16 blocked shots as Ben Newhouse and Joseph Nardi each dove in front of four shots.
The Wildcats will take on Minnesota State University - Mankato in a single elimination WCHA Semifinal game on Friday, March 19.