Two Early Goals Lead Bemidji St. Past Wildcats, 3-1
This story was written by NMU Sports Information
BEMIDJI, Minn.---The Northern Michigan hockey team fell to Bemidji State, 3-1, in the third game of their WCHA quarterfinal series Sunday night at the Sanford Center.
Brock Maschmeyer's fifth goal of the season pulled the Wildcats within one late in the second period, but the regular-season champion Beavers withstood a late flurry and tacked on an empty-net goal in the final minute to advance to the WCHA semifinals.
Six minutes into the game, Bemidji State netted two goals in 34 seconds to build a 2-0 lead. At 5:18, Myles Fitzgerald sent a pass out in front from behind the net, and the puck deflected off of a Wildcat's skate and past Atte Tolvanen. Then, at 5:52, Brendan Harms beat Tolvanen with a bullet from the far edge of the left circle.
Northern Michigan was awarded its second five-minute power play of the series at 8:12 when Harms was assessed a major for checking from behind. The Beavers held fast, clogging up shooting lanes and blocking three shots so Michael Bitzer only had to deny a Dominik Shine one-timer from the top of the left circle.
With just under six minutes to go in the first, Maschmeyer went end to end and got a shot off despite being sandwiched by two Beavers. Bitzer stopped Maschmeyer's bid but left a rebound, and a trailing Anthony Paskaruk immediately jumped on it.
Bitzer got a piece of Paskaruk's backhanded shot, sending the puck skittering behind the net and out of danger.
In the dying seconds of the opening stanza, Tolvanen stood tall to stuff Phillip Marinaccio on a 2-on-1 rush to keep the Wildcats within two.
Near the halfway mark of the second period, Bemidji State had 1:46 of a 5-on-3 man advantage after Northern Michigan was assessed back-to-back tripping minors. Like the Beavers during Harm's major, the Wildcats only gave up one shot on net, with Shane Sooth doing his part by blocking two bids.
Roughly two minutes later, Charlie O'Connor rang a shot off of the left post and out in transition. The play was reviewed at the next whistle, but the call on the ice stood.
At 17:40, Maschmeyer drew Northern Michigan back within a single strike on a man advantage. After corralling a Shine feed in the middle of the left circle, he skated in a few strides and threaded a shot between Bitzer's glove and the right post.
Bitzer made eight of his 19 saves in the third period to preserve Bemidji State's lead.
Around the five-minute mark, Sooth and Gerard Hanson generated a 2-on-1 rush.
Hanson dished the puck to Sooth, but Sooth tipped the puck wide of the empty net.
Shine had two of the Wildcats' best chances in the final frame. With 4:25 to go, he came up with the puck off of a face-off win, muscled his way through traffic and fired a shot on net that Bitzer managed to send aside.
Later, after Northern Michigan pulled Tolvanen for the extra skater, Sooth found him through traffic in the slot, but he sent his shot just wide.
Marinaccio ultimately iced the game at 19:42, coming up with the puck along the boards and firing it the length of the ice into the empty net.
The Wildcats were the only lower seed to force a third game during the 2017 WCHA quarterfinal round. They wrap up the season with a 13-22-4 (10-15-3 WCHA) record.
They went 9-6-2 (8-4-2 WCHA) in 2017.
The following story covers Saturday's contest, courtesy of NMU.
BEMIDJI, Minn.---The Northern Michigan University hockey team downed Bemidji State, 4-2, to force a decisive third game in their WCHA quarterfinal series Saturday night at the Sanford Center.
Atte Tolvanen made 46 saves, and Gerard Hanson and Dominik Shine both had four-point nights, to lift the Wildcats past the WCHA regular-season champion Beavers.
During Bemidji State's first power play, Tolvanen went post to post to turn aside Gerry Fitzgerald's one-timer from the middle of the left circle. Later, he denied Gerry Fitzgerald again, smothering his bullet from the slot through heavy traffic.
With just over seven minutes on the clock, Charlie O'Connor picked off a pass on the blueline during a Northern Michigan power play and raced in alone on Tolvanen.
Tolvanen calmly steered his shot aside to keep the game scoreless.
Shane Sooth gave the Wildcats their first lead of the weekend at 17:25 of the first. After Hanson worked the puck free from a scrum behind the net, he sent it out in front. It skipped off of Kyle Bauman, and Sooth corralled it on his backhand. Instead of shifting it to his forehand, Sooth immediately got off a low shot, and it made it past Michael Bitzer and into the right corner of the net.
Northern Michigan carried 1:26 of power-play time into the second and, 42 seconds in, Bemidji State's Tommy Muck was called for hooking. The Wildcats capitalized on their 5-on-3 man advantage, with Hanson potting a booming Shine rebound at the 1:04 mark.
Twenty eight seconds later, Nate Arentz pulled the Beavers back within one by netting a shorthanded goal. From the center of the left circle, he fired a shot that glanced off of Tolvanen's glove and skittered into the net.
Bemidji State was awarded a power play at 7:27 and nearly capitalized to draw even. Tolvanen was forced to make six saves, and Rylan Yaremko cleared a loose puck out of the crease before it could trickle over the line. At the end, Bauman found a shooting lane, but he rang the puck off the crossbar and out.
Exactly three minutes later, Mike Soucier took a five-minute major. Northern Michigan netted one goal during that extended man advantage to take a 3-1 lead into the second intermission. Two minutes in, at 12:57, Shine took a feed from Hanson in the left circle and beat Bitzer stick side with a rising shot.
Near the end of that power play, Tolvanen had to come up with a big save on Bauman after he forced a turnover behind the Wildcat net. Bauman darted out in front and tried to stuff the puck home, but Tolvanen smothered it, leaving no rebound.
Tolvanen stopped 16 shots during the third period, allowing only a goal to Dan Billet at the 13:37 mark. In the first minute during a carryover Beaver power play, he came up with a big kick save on Jay Dickman after he muscled his way through the Northern Michigan defense.
With 5:37 remaining in regulation, Shine was whistled for interference. Without one of their top penalty killers, the Wildcats held fast, with Tolvanen making four saves.
The Beavers pulled Bitzer for the extra skater with 1:46 on the clock. Shine iced the game 13 seconds later, sending the puck into the empty net from the neutral zone.