MARQUETTE, Mich. - The Northern Michigan University hockey team opened up their 2020-21 campaign with a 5-4 victory over in-state foe, Ferris State University Wednesday night. After jumping out to a four-goal lead through the first 25 minutes of action, the Bulldogs found some momentum but the Wildcats were quick to stifle it and hang on for the win.
In his first start between the pipes, junior Connor Ryckman stopped 26 of 30 shots.
- The Wildcats opened the scoring when sophomore AJ Vanderbeck scored at 5:15 of the opening period. His linemate, Brandon Schultz, picked up the lone assist on the goal.
- Schultz, the senior out of Estero, Fla., tallied his second point of the game, and first goal of the year with the help from Vanderbeck and Tanner Vescio at 12:34 of the opening period to give the Wildcats the two-goal lead.
- Newcomer Colby Enns scored his first collegiate goal at 15:53 to round out the scoring in the first period. Veteran forwards Joseph Nardi and Vincent de Mey both earned apples on the goal.
- Vanderbeck recorded the first multi-goal night of his career when he found the back of the net just under five minutes into the middle frame, posting his third point of the game. A powerful duo, Schultz picked up the primary assist, his second of the night, while freshman forward Mack Byers tallied his first career point.
- Senior captain Joseph Nardi wrapped up the Wildcat scoring for the evening, recording his first of the season and 27th of his career at 17:13 of the second stanza. With the secondary assist, Noah Ganske picked up his first carry point. Andre Ghantous also had an assist on the play.
- Connor Ryckman recorded his first victory in a Wildcat sweater in his debut in the crease. He stopped 26 of 30 shots on the night to keep his team ahead for the 5-4 final.
- Three Wildcat newcomers posted their first career points on opening night. Colby Enns picked up the first goal of his career, while Mack Byers and Noah Ganske both recorded assists.
- After being sidelined with injury late last season, offensive powerhouse AJ Vanderbeck had a career-high night, posting the first multi-goal game of his career and tying his career-best three points (2-1-3).
- The Wildcats picked up a win in their season-opener for the first time since 2016-17 when they defeated Wisconsin, 3-2, at the Resch Center (Oct. 7, 2016).
The Wildcats have a day to rest before traveling to Houghton, Mich. this Friday, Dec. 18 for a 7 p.m. tilt against the Huskies. The team returns to the Berry Events Center on Saturday, Dec. 19 to close out the home-and-home series.
Both games will air on Fox UP or can be streamed online at flohockey.tv.