FAIRBANKS, Alas.—No. 20 Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (7-5, 5-3 WCHA) settled for a series split with the University of Alaska Fairbanks (4-8-2, 2-5-2 WCHA after suffering a 4-1 loss late Saturday night.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the opening period with the Nanooks earning the 7-4 advantage in shot attempts. The Wildcats did start out quick recording the first three shots of the game, less than two minutes in. NMU did commit a pair of penalties, but the special teams stepped up to convert both penalty kill opportunities.
Through the first period, the Wildcats had held opponents scoreless in 20-consecutive power-play opportunities dating back to November 4. That streak came to an end in the second period when a minor tripping penalty allowed UAF to score their first goal of the evening with the on-ice advantage.
Near the end of the second period, NMU fell into a two-goal deficit after the Nanooks scored at the 17:13 mark. The Wildcats did find more of an offensive rhythm in the period getting to double digit shots with 10 to bring their total through the first two periods to 14.
The score remained 2-0 through nearly 18 minutes of the final period. Opting to pull the goaltender late, NMU took a 6-5 skater advantage looking to trim the deficit. Junior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) did exactly that with his score at the 17:57 mark of the third period. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) and junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) were each credit with assists on the score, Loggins' ninth and Rockwood seventh of the year.
With the UAF lead down to one, the Wildcats remained without a goaltender after the score in an attempt to extend the contest. Less than 20 seconds after the Wildcats trimmed their deficit, the Nanooks pushed their lead back to a pair with an empty net score. Continuing without a goaltender, NMU allowed a second empty net goal in the final minute of action, giving Fairbanks their 4-1 victory and a series split.
Junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) got the start in goal for NMU, making 23 saves in the contest. Tolvanen allowed two goals putting his season goals against average at 2.43, while his save percentage is now .916%
Despite allowing a power-play goal in the game, the Wildcats would finish Saturday 6-7 in the penalty kill. For the series, the team was a near-perfect 10-11 in penalty kill situations. Over the past three series, NMU has surrendered just two power-play scores in chances for their opponents.
The Wildcats will finish their current four-game road trip with a pair of contests next weekend at the University of Nebraska Omaha (4-5-1, 1-3 NCHC). The puck will drop Friday and Saturday in Omaha, Nebraska, at 8:07 p.m.