LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (11-10-3, 9-5-2) played to a 3-3 tie with No. 13/14 Boston College (10-8-3, 10-3-0 HEA) Saturday evening before earning a shootout victory. Connecting on the first two shootout chances secured a third-place finish for the Wildcats at the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational held in T-Mobile Arena.
Unlike Friday evening, the Wildcats jumped out to the early lead on Saturday with a score at the 6:43 mark of the opening period. Sophomore defenseman Rylan Yaremko (Spirit River, Alberta) netted his first goal of the season after finding an opening in front of the Eagle's net. Sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) found Yaremko driving to the net for his 11th assist of the season.
After BC tied the game at one early in the second period, but junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) quickly returned the lead to the Wildcats with his eighth of the season at 5:48 of the second period. Junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) sent the puck near the blue line to Beaulieu who faked a shot and sent the puck over to Loggins for the power play score.
NMU nearly got out of the second period with a lead after the Loggins score, but the Eagles scored on a break with 32 seconds remaining in the frame to tie the contest once again.
Halfway through the third period, BC took their first lead of the contest, but the advantage was short-lived. At 12:07 of the third period, junior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) scored in the power play for his fifth goal of the season to tie it at three goals each. Pierce deflected a shot from Beaulieu who was credited with his third assist of the game, while Loggins picked up his second assist of the night on the score.
Neither team was able to score over the final eight minutes of regulation as the contest moved to a five-on-five overtime period. It was the fourth overtime game of the season for NMU with the last coming December 9 against Bemidji State University when the Wildcats earned a shootout victory for an extra point in conference action.
In the first overtime period, Northern Michigan was held without a shot but managed to shut down the four BC attempts at the goal in the five-on-five. Neither team was able to score in the three-on-three period that followed, but NMU did attempt two shots at the net before heading to a shootout.
Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) got the shootout started with a backhanded score to give the Wildcats the advantage. Junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) stretched for a leg save on the first attempt for the Eagles, while sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) fired one into the net for NMU on their second attempt. Tolvanen sealed the shootout win with a glove side save giving his team third-place at the Ice Vegas Invitational.
For the contest, Tolvanen finished with 35 saves, his second-highest amount this season. Moving to 9-5-1 on the year, his save percentage increased to .906 while his goals against average remains at 2.67.
Western Collegiate Hockey Association Action resumes next weekend with the Wildcats returning to the Berry Events Center for the first time in nearly a month. NMU will welcome Bowling Green State University to Marquette, Michigan for a series between two of the top teams in the conference. BGSU's league win this afternoon moved them into a tie for second with the Wildcats, but the Falcons finish their series with Ferris State University Sunday afternoon with a chance to take sole possession of second-place.
The NMU-BGSU series is set for Friday and Saturday with a 7:07 p.m. puck drop both evenings in the Berry Events Center.