The Northern Michigan University hockey team suffered a disappointing loss over the weekend, not only losing possession of the Cappo Cup, but also experiencing a setback in the CCHA standings.
NMU lost 5-1 and 5-2 at Lake Superior State to more than blow the three-goal advantage it had for the Cappo Cup entering the weekend as the Soo team won the four-game, total-goals series 17-13. In the mid-November series held in Marquette, Northern emerged victorious with scores of 6-4 and 4-3.
The Wildcats’ future outlook was negatively impacted as well. NMU fell to 7-11-2 overall and 5-7 in the league, still stuck at 15 points and tied with Bowling Green State for sixth place in the eight-team loop. While the top three teams in the CCHA have played either three or four more conference games than Northern, the Wildcats trail each of them — St. Thomas, Bemidji State and LSSU — by between nine and 12 points.
What was also frustrating about each game was that Northern scored the only goal of the first period each night. This weekend, NMU faces a tough challenge as they host the league-leading St. Thomas at the Berry Events Center. The games are scheduled for 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.
In a recent game, Michael Colella, a senior player, made an impressive play by scoring his second shorthanded goal and fifth goal overall this season. He managed to score on a breakaway with just 6 minutes and 30 seconds left in the opening period. Colella’s two short-handed goals have propelled him to the top spot in the CCHA and tied for third nationally in that category.
In a recent game, a player made a quick change during a penalty kill and took advantage of a mistake by the Lakers at their own blueline. Colella seized the opportunity, stole the puck, and swiftly scored by beating LSSU goalie Ethan Langenegger on his stick-side shoulder, as reported by NMU Sports Information. In the final minute of the period, the Wildcats had several opportunities that would prove to be crucial later on.
In the second period, the Lakers quickly leveled the score just 16 seconds in. Carter Batchelder received an outlet pass and swiftly made his way down the middle for a breakaway, successfully finding the back of the net past NMU goalie Beni Halasz, as reported by NMU SI.
In that particular play, Northern received a two-minute slashing penalty, which allowed LSSU to score the go-ahead goal on the subsequent power play just before the penalty expired. Branden Piku successfully capitalized on a two-on-none breakaway opportunity, scoring against Halasz.
In the later stages of the game, the Lakers managed to score three more goals against Halasz. Jake Westcott capitalized on a rebound and batted the puck out of the air to find the back of the net with 5:30 remaining in the second period. Harrison Roy then scored on a power play, extending the Lakers’ lead. The final goal came from John Herrington, who took advantage of a 2-on-1 opportunity with just 3:33 left on the clock. Halasz recorded a total of 27 saves, with an impressive 12 saves made during the second period. Langenegger, on the other hand, managed to make 23 saves, with 14 of them occurring in the third period.
Reilly Funk’s second goal of the season came with about eight minutes left in the first period and held up for NMU for more than a period before the Lakers bagged back-to-back goals 58 seconds apart and a total of four over 6 1/2 minutes extending into the third.
In a remarkable display of skill, Funk managed to outmaneuver an LSSU defenseman and secure an advantageous position at the far post, resulting in the opening score. Teammate Zach Michaelis found Funk with a nifty pass from the right half-wall, then Funk was strong on the puck to redirect it into an empty net past Langenegger, according to NMU SI. Funk has scored in his last four games, including both of his goals, while Michaelis has accumulated three points in four games.
While that lead held up for more than a period, another second-period collapse cost the Wildcats. In a thrilling turn of events, Piku managed to score with just 4 minutes and 29 seconds remaining in the second period, leveling the score. And if that wasn’t enough, just 58 seconds later, Timo Bakos seized the opportunity and scored the go-ahead goal against Northern’s talented netminder, Charlie Glockner.
In a turn of events, Tritt Dawson scored a power play goal with only 32.3 seconds left in the second period, extending their lead to 3-1. The third period began with another power play goal by Connor Milburn, giving Lake State a comfortable 4-1 advantage.
In the final minutes of the game, Northern managed to score a goal. Kevin Marx Noren seized control of the puck in the slot, swiftly turned, and unleashed a shot from the hash marks. The shot found its mark, beating the Lake State netminder and earning Noren his third goal of the season. This brought the score to 4-2.
In a strategic move, NMU head coach Grant Potulny decided to replace Glockner in goal. However, the Lakers capitalized on this decision, scoring an empty net goal courtesy of Tritt with just 2 minutes and 44 seconds remaining in the game.