MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – The Northern Michigan University hockey team began the New Year with a bang just like last year when the Wildcats swept Wisconsin in Madison. This year the ‘Cats captured the Dodge Holiday Classic with a 4-2 win Sunday night over the host the University of Minnesota. NMU also picked up the Canale-Bradshaw Cup in the process. The cup goes to the winner of the NMU-Minnesota series (game). The win for the ‘Cats was the first time over the Golden Gophers since 1996.
NMU has now won three games in a row and are 9-8-4 overall on the season. Minnesota falls to 9-10-1.
The Golden Gophers held a 1-0 lead after the first 20 minutes of play when Mike Hoeffel scored a power-play goal at 5:57. The ‘Cats answered in the second period on goals by Greger Hanson on the power play for his sixth of the season at 6:58 to tie the score at one-all. Assisting on the goal were Mark Olver and Erik Gustafsson. NMU then took a 2-1 lead when Ray Kaunisto knocked home his eighth goal of the season at 11:46. Hanson and Matt Butcher assisted.
Minnesota tied the score (2-2) on a goal by Jacob Cepis less than four minutes later (15:13). Kaunisto scoring his second goal of the night and ninth of season gave the ‘Cats the lead for good, 3-2, with 13 seconds left in the second period (19:47). TJ Miller and Olver assisted on the goal. Miller added an insurance goal at 16:16 of the third period for his third of the season. Olver and Justin Florek assisted.
Brian Stewart tied a career high with 48 saves Sunday night. He recorded 17 in the first period, 18 in the second and 13 in the third. NMU was 1-4 on the power play while Minnesota was 1-7. NMU was outshot in the process by a 50-23 count.
Stewart picked up MVP honors for the Dodge Holiday Classic. Named to the Dodge Holiday Classic All-Tournament Team were Olver, Kaunisto and Gustafsson.
The ‘Cats will have the weekend off before facing Michigan Tech Tuesday, Jan. 12 in the back end of the home-and-home series in Houghton. Later that week (Jan. 15-16) the ‘Cats are back in Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) play when the Falcons of Bowling Green pay a visit to the Berry Events Center.
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Sports Information Director