BEMIDJI, Minn.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (8-8-2, 6-4-2 WCHA) played to a 4-4 tie with Bemidji State University (5-6-5, 2-4-4 WCHA) and picked up the extra Western Collegiate Hockey Association for the second-consecutive night on Saturday with a shootout victory over the Beavers.
It was an uneventful first period for both squads for much of the first period with no penalties or goals for the first 16 minutes. That trend changed quickly with a pair of goals less than a minute apart late in the period.
Junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) got the scoring started with his third goal of the year at the 16:21 mark. Assists on the score went to senior Zach Diamantoni (Montgomery, New Jersey) and junior Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) for their fifth and 10th of the year.
Less than a minute later, the Beavers event the game at one after a shot was deflected in front of the crease and found its way into net. The game went into the first intermission even at one goal each for the second consecutive night.
It did not take long for the Wildcats to regain the lead courtesy of a sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) goal 1:32 into the second period. His sixth goal of the season was assisted by junior defenseman James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta) who picked up his third assist of the season.
That lead would also be short lived for NMU as Bemidji would score near the six-minute mark to tie the game at two. The Beavers took their first lead of the series at 12:26 of the second period on score that was initial called a goal and then waved off. After an official review, BSU was awarded the goal for their third of the evening.
Exactly 30 seconds later, Craighead found his second goal of the game on a laser from the blue line. The puck went behind the net and around the boards before Craighead was able to coral it and send it into the net for his seventh of the year. The score again tied the game, this time at three goals each.
Just before the end of the period, Diamantoni put the Wildcats back on top with his third goal of the season. The score came with 33 seconds remaining in the second period with senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) and freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) picked up their sixth and fifth assists of the season. NMU regained the lead at 4-3 at the second intermission.
The first special teams score of the game came late in the third period. In the power play, BSU dumped a puck to the net that was deflected into the goal for the fourth Bemidji goal of the game. It tied the game at four, while it was the seventh tie between the squads in the two-game series. The score forced overtime for the second-consecutive night.
Also for the second-consecutive night, neither team was able to score in the overtime period resulting in the tie for both team. With an extra WCHA point on the line, the contest continued with an exhibition three-on-three period. Neither team was able to secure the extra point despite breakaway opportunities for both teams.
In the shootout, Payne got things started by scoring on the first attempt. NMU sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby, Sweden) stuffed the Beavers on their first attempt of the shootout to secure the extra point for the second night in a row. Israelsson finished the game with a season high 35 saves in the contest.
Next up for the Wildcats will be a rematch with Ferris State University in the Berry Events Center. NMU opened WCHA play this season with a road sweep of the Bulldogs October 13 and 14. The puck drop for Friday and Saturday's game will be 7 p.m. Friday night's game will feature a teddy bear toss, while Saturday will feature a sock toss. For Saturday's game, children will receive free admission if the bring new socks to game with the socks being donated to various organizations in the community.