Wildcats Tie BSU, Earn Extra WCHA Point with OT Score

Wildcats Tie BSU, Earn Extra WCHA Point with OT Score

BEMIDJI, Minn.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (8-8-1, 6-4-1 WCHA) tied Bemidji State University (5-6-4, 2-4-3 WCHA) Friday night on the road, but the Wildcats earned an extra conference point courtesy of senior defensemen Jordan Klimek's (Langley, British Columbia) goal in the three-on-three period. It was the first tie of the season for NMU who jumped into a tie for third in the conference standings with the extra point.

A five-minute major and game misconduct call against the Beavers nearly half way through the first period gave the Wildcats a five-minute on-ice advantage. NMU took advantage of the opportunity with their 12th power-play goal of the season at 12:07 of the first period. Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) netted his 13th goal of the season, while sophomore defensemen Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) and junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) earned the assists.

Scoring a power play goal of their own, BSU evened the game at one with less than a minute to play. The goal came at the 19:18 mark of the period, just before the first intermission. NMU ended the period with a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal.

Despite the special team goals in the opening period, Bemidji came into the contest leading the country in penalty kill percentage, going 43 of 47 (91.5%) in the penalty kill this season. The Wildcats came into the game second behind BSU in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in penalty kill percentage with an 84.1%.

Neither squad was able to find the back of the net in the second period. The Beavers outshot NMU, 9-4, in the period, but sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby, Sweden) stopped all nine Bemidji chances.

The third period was much of the same with neither team able to break the tie. BSU outshot the Wildcats for the second-consecutive period, but NMU recorded a number of close chances late in the third period. Four shots, three on-goal in the final three minutes all failed to extend the game, marking the second time this season the Wildcats have advanced to an overtime contest.

For the first time this season, the Wildcats played to a tie with none of the three combined shots in the overtime period able to find the net. Per WCHA rules, the teams continued with a three-on-three period with an extra point in the conference standings on the line.

A penalty against the Wildcats gave the Beavers an on-ice advantage in the exhibition overtime, but It was no problem for the NMU special teams. Klimek managed a shorthanded score after maneuvering around a defender and sending the puck through the BSU goaltenders legs. The score game the Wildcats an extra point in the WCHA standings, however none of the three-on-three period stats go towards the team's cumulative totals.

Israelsson made his fifth-consecutive start and seventh of the season en route to the first tie of his career. With 24 saves, it is the fifth time this season that Israelsson has surpassed the 20 saves mark. 

The second game of the series is Saturday evening, with the puck drop scheduled for 8:07 p.m.