MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (5-3, 3-1 WCHA) earned a series-split with No. 9 Minnesota State University Mankato (6-3, 4-2 WCHA) with a 4-1 victory Saturday evening at the Berry Event Center. The win gives the Wildcats their second series split of 2017 with a top-10 ranked opponent.
For the second-consecutive evening, the Wildcats surrendered the early lead to the Mavericks, despite outshooting MSU 8-6 in the period. The Mankato goal came eight minutes, 43 seconds into the period, with NMU trailing the rest of the period into the first intermission.
A flurry of goals in the second period gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the season after NMU found the back of the net three times in the period. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) got the scoring started three minutes in for his second score of the year. Junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) were each credited with assists, Rockwood getting his fifth and Payne earning his third.
Payne got in on the scoring at the 15-minute mark with a goal of his own. The senior captain's seventh was one for the highlight reel, scoring from his back. Sliding in front of the goal crease, Payne was down on the ice with his back to the goal, while the puck was above his head. By reach his stuck above his head, Payne was able to flip the puck backwards into the net, giving NMU the 2-1 lead. Senior forward Zach Diamantoni (Montgomery, New Jersey) earned his second assist of the year on the play.
With just seconds remaining in the period, sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) gave the Wildcats some insurance with the squad's third goal of the game. Loggins was credited with his seventh assist of the season on the score, while sophomore defender Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) earned his fourth.
In the final period, Mankato outshot the Wildcats 12-3, but NMU made managed to add to their lead on an empty-net goal from Loggins for his second score of the game and third of the season. The goal made gave the Wildcats their 4-1 lead, the game's final score.
Making his first start of the year in three appearances, sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby, Sweden) earned his first win of 2017 in the victory. Israelsson made a season-high 23 saves in the contest to bring his total for the year to 44.
The Wildcats return to action next weekend with a home-and-home series with rival Michigan Technological University (4-5-2, 2-4-2 WCHA) Friday's game will begin at 7:07 p.m. in Houghton, Michigan, with both teams making the trip down to Marquette, Michigan for Saturday's 7 p.m. contest.