MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (21-11-3, 19-6-2-2 WCHA) earned their ninth-consecutive win in the Berry Events Center Friday evening with a 2-1 victory over Michigan Technological University (16-15-5, 11-11-5-2 WCHA) on senior night.
Neither team was able to put a shot into the net during the first period. The Wildcats fell behind early in the shot column but managed to end the period with an 8-7 shot advantage. Additionally, NMU killed a Huskie power play late in the period with less than three minutes to play.
Each team found a score in the second period with MTU getting on the board first. The Huskies took the lead six minutes into the period, but it did not take long for the Wildcats to net a goal of their own.
Midway through the period, senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) scored his 20th goal of the season to knot the game at one goal each. The score came at 10:15 and was assisted by junior defenseman Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota) and sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota).
The goal was the moved Payne into a tie for seventh nationally this season, while it also marked his sixth goal against MTU in his career. For his career, Payne now has 50 goals making him the 35th player in NMU history to reach the mark.
It did not take long for the Wildcats to take the lead in the final period, scoring less than five minutes into the third. Sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) took a pass across the ice to send it into the back of the net. His 17th goal of the season was assisted by Payne and senior defenseman Jordan Klimek (Langley, British Columbia) to seal the Wildcat victory.
With the win, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) picked up his 19th victory of the season which is tied for the third most in the NCAA. Tolvanen record 17 saves to lower his save percentage to .904 and his goals against average to 2.39 this season.
By earning three league points with the win, the Wildcats locked in the second seed in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs with help from a Bowling Green State University loss. NMU's opponent is yet to be determined with the University of Alabama-Huntsville, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Ferris State University, and Lake State University vying for playoff berths or seeding.
The regular season will come to a close Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Houghton, Michigan to finish the home-and-home series with MTU. The contest is slated to begin at 7:07 p.m. in the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
NMU will also host a first round WCHA Playoff series in the Berry Events Center. Tickets for the first-round series are on sale now through all NMU Ticket Outlets. Games during the first-round series will be played on Friday and Saturday, as well as Sunday, if necessary. All game times will be 7 p.m.