MARQUETTE, Mich. - Each state has its rivalries when it comes to college sports, but when you’re in the state of Michigan and have two halves, the rivalry gets even more intense, especially when you’re in the Upper Peninsula where hockey is the way of life.
Tonight at the Berry Events Center in Marquette the Michigan Tech Huskies and the Northern Michigan University Wildcats skated to a draw (1-1). It was the fourth tie in the past 12 games between the two U.P. rivals. NMU is now 6-10-1 on the season while MTU is 6-7-2.
The Huskies of Michigan Tech traveled south to take on its arch rivals, the Wildcats of Northern Michigan. The Huskies are 44-59-10 (.434) overall against the Wildcats and came in hopes of adding another win onto the charts.
Five shots on goal into the game, Tech’s Malcolm Gwilliam put the Huskies on the board with an unassisted wrist shot. The Husky defense wouldn’t allow the ‘Cats to take a shot, holding them off and only allowing one shot on goal while taking 12.
“We were very dominant. Our power play had an opportunity to put the game away in the first period,” said MTU coach Jamie Russell. “We made a few plays that were indecisive but we made some strong decisions and strong plays.”
“We came out really sloppy,” said NMU coach Walt Kyle. “We had a lot of attempts but they blocked most of our shots before they got to the net.”
The second period was a clash of pads. The Huskies took six penalties for a total of 12 minutes while the Wildcats took three penalties for a total of six minutes, only four minutes overlapping.
“We had four power plays in the first period,” said Russell. “It tends to even out. The penalties and power plays are usually pretty close.”
Despite its power play advantages, the Wildcats didn’t score until two minutes left in the period when Wildcat senior Matt Siddall put the ‘Cats on the board with his fifth goal of the season.
“Siddall’s a tough kid to beat,” said Kyle.
The Huskies dominated the ice, though not the Wildcat crease, during the third period. Despite its 14 shots on goal during the period, to the ‘Cats one, the score remained at one-all.
“We created a lot of scoring chances. Our shots on goal were fairly lop-sided. It means we were doing things well defensively; we were getting the pucks to the net,” said Russell said.
The overtime period was a blur of skates and fists. After an intentional attempt to injure Wildcat goalie Brian Stewart, four players fought with full aggression resulting in four game misconducts. As a result, tomorrow’s rosters will be missing NMU’s Siddall and co-captain TJ Miller, and Tech’s Eric Kattelus and Jordan Foote.
“There wasn’t much aggression on our part until the end,” said Kyle. “It happens in college hockey.”
Despite the action during overtime, it was Stewart’s performance that gained attention.
“He was really on his game,” said Kyle. “He saved 29 of 30 shots.”
Stewart had a rough start to the season, but with tonight’s save average of .967
“I think this was my best game of the year,” said Stewart. “I wasn’t over reacting to anything. I remained calm. When I get too nervous, I dive around and knock into the net. I just have to stay steady and calm. How I mentally prepared for the game helped out a lot. I was thinking about the game all week and as it came up I just realize hockey’s supposed to be fun. It took some of the pressure off.”
MTU had 30 shots on goal while NMU had nine. NMU’s shots set a new school record for fewest shots in a game. The previous low was 10 against Bowling Green on March 11, 1983.
The Wildcats head up to Houghton, Mich. to play the Huskies in the second game of the home-and-home series tomorrow night (Dec. 15). The puck will drop at 7:07 p.m.
### NMU ###
Sports Information Director