BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sanford Center) - Leading by 1-0 with 20 minutes to play, Northern Michigan University added four goals in the third period to take game one of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association series 5-1 over Bemidji State University Friday at Sanford Center.
In a game dominated by special teams play, the BSU and NMU combined for 38 minutes in the box on 12 penalties. BSU got six power-play opportunities, which includes 56 seconds of 5-on-3 play, but was unable to find the back of the net. The Wildcats, on the other hand, excelled with their special teams units on the ice. Not only did NMU net a power-play goal in the third to finish 1-of-3 on the man advantage, it added two short-handed goals.
NMU was led by Joseph Nardi, who posted three points on two goals and an assist, while Andre Ghantous logged a goal to go with two helpers. The Wildcats' goaltender, Rico DiMatteo turned aside 20 of the 21 shots he faced, which included a total of 10 BSU power-play shots on goal.
After a scoreless first period of pay, Northern Michigan got on the board just 1:21 into the frame, on Nardi's first goal of the night with help from Ghantous and Colella. The Beavers would get the benefit of four power-play chances in the second, including a five-minute major that led to the 5-on-3, but were unable to solve DiMatteo and opened the third period trailing by a goal, 1-0.
Just 33 seconds into the third period, BSU's Lukas Sillinger was whistled for a major penalty for charging on top of an elbowing minor setting the Wildcats' Brandon Schultz (3:12) up for a power-play goal and Nardi (4:33) just moments later to give NMU 3-0 lead. Schultz's goal snapped a string of 30 consecutive power-play chances killed off by the Beavers' penalty-kill unit and stood as the first power-play tally BSU has allowed since Dec. 18.
Late in the period, Ghantous and Garrett Klee posted short-handed goals just 1:31 apart to give NMU a 5-0 lead with 5:10 to go.
The Wildcats' fifth goal of the night ended the night early for BSU goaltender Zach Driscoll. In 54:50 of action, Driscoll made 17 saves and allowed all five of NMU's goals. He dropped to 6-5-3 on the season.
Just seconds after the goalie change, the Beavers found a way to erase the shutout. Ross Armour won an offensive zone faceoff clean to Tyler Kirkup at the top of the right circle. The junior unleashed a rocket that found its way through heavy traffic in front of the net and beat DiMatteo. The goal was Kirkup's first of the season.
Gavin Enright made his collegiate debut in relief of Driscoll. He stopped the three shots he faced and logged 5:10 between the pipes.
BSU, now 7-5-3 overall and 2-2-1 in WCHA play, will again host Northern Michigan tomorrow to wrap up the WCHA series. The puck is set to drop at 6:07 p.m. at Sanford Center.