MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (1-1, 0-0 WCHA) earned a 4-1 victory over Lake Superior State University (1-1, 0-0 WCHA) to split the season opening series Saturday evening in the Berry Events.
After scoring a pair of goals in the season opener, senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) wasted little time giving the Wildcats their first lead of the season at the 4:11 mark of the first period. Payne picked up his third goal of the season off the assist from junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California), his third assist of the year.
Six of the eight goals scored in Friday's matchup came in the power-play, but no goals were scored with an advantage in Saturday's contest. Even with a combined five of the games seven power-play chances coming in the second period, neither team was able to convert on the opportunity.
NMU did go up a pair of goals in the period, though, after sophomore defender Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) scored with just seconds remaining at the 19:20 mark of the period. Junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) was credited with the assist for his second of the year, as was Loggins who now has four through two games.
LSSU attempted a comeback in the final period, getting on the board just over four minutes in to trim the NMU lead, 2-1. The Wildcat defense was able to hold the Lakers to just a pair of shots the rest of the game, while the offense found some insurance late. Junior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) scored at 18:01 on a pass from freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) for his first goal of the season. Nardi's assist was his first of the year.
Less than 30 seconds later, an empty net goal gave Payne his fourth goal through two games of the 2017 season. The goal pushed the NMU lead to three goals, 4-1, proving enough to secure a series split with the Lakers.
In total, the Wildcats outshot LSSU 29-21, taking the category for the second-consecutive night. Defensively, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) moved to 1-1 on the year in the victory. Of the 21 shots faced, Tolvanen recorded 20 saves, allowing the one Laker goal. For the season, the junior has totaled 41 saves through the opening series.
The victory marks the first of head coach Grant Potulny's career at the helm of the Wildcats. The win came on the evening that the ice rink in the Berry Event Center was dedicated as "Rick Comley Rink" to the first head coach in Wildcat Hockey history, Rick Comley.
Next weekend, the Wildcats hit the road to Big Rapids, Michigan, where they will take on Ferris State University (1-1, 0-0 WCHA) in a weekend series. The games will take place Friday and Saturday, October 13-14, with a scheduled start time of 7:07 p.m.