MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan hockey team defeated Lake Superior State 6-2 on Friday (Feb. 24) night from the Berry Events Center. The Wildcats scored four straight goals, including three in the second period. Four players had a goal and an assist in the victory, moving NMU’s record to 15-12-6 overall and 10-11-6-3 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
“We had some guys have a good offensive effort and put pucks in at the right times,” NMU coach Walt Kyle said. “I thought it was a real close hockey game and we know we’re going to have our hands full tomorrow night.”
Senior forward Justin Florek and junior forward Matt Thurber each scored a goal and added two assists while senior forwards Andrew Cherniwchan and Tyler Gron added a goal and an assist.
LSSU is now 16-14-5 overall and 11-12-4-4 in the CCHA. The Lakers were 0-for-6 on the power-play and received goals from Kyle Jean and Buddy Robinson.
The Wildcats three second period goals were by Gron, Florek and sophomore forward Stephan Vigier. Gron tipped a shot past LSSU goaltender Kevin Kapalka on a pass from Thurber at 8:24. Freshman defenseman Jake Baker also assisted on Gron’s 15th goal of the season.
Florek put home his own rebound for his team-leading 17th goal of the season at 15:08. Assists went to Chernwichan and sophomore defenseman Wade Epp.
Sophomore forward Stephan Vigier scored on the power-play less than two minutes later (16:57). He blasted a one-timer past Kapalka with assists from freshman defenseman Mitch Jones and Gron. It was Vigier’s 12th of the season.
Thurber scored a shorthanded goal on a breakaway at 3:37 of the third period. Florek assisted on Thurber’s ninth of the season.
Cherniwchan tipped in a blast from sophomore defenseman CJ Ludwig at 14:26 of the third for his ninth of the season. Florek also assisted on the goal.
Sophomore forward Reed Seckel opened the game’s scoring at 5:55 of the first period when he snuck in a goal off a pass from junior defenseman Scott Macaulay. Thurber picked up his first assist on Seckel’s eighth of the season.
The Lakers answered with Jean’s blast from the middle of the ice at 17:04 of the first. Domenic Monardo and Nick McParland assisted on the goal.
LSSU’s final goal was at 10:39 of the third when Robinson snuck it past sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau. Assists went to Kellan Lain and McParland.
NMU finished 1-for-4 on the man advantage.
Coreau had 28 saves and is now 11-6-2 on the season. Kapalka (15-11-5-4) stopped 18 shots for the Lakers.
The two teams meet for the final game of the regular season at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday (Feb. 25). NMU can clinch home ice for the first round of the CCHA Tournament with a win.
Northern’s five seniors will be honored on the ice before the game on Saturday. Cherniwchan, goaltender Reid Ellingson, Florek, Gron and goaltender Devan Hartigan will play their final regular season game on Saturday.
“We have to keep our emotions in check and we have a big game tomorrow,” Kyle added. “There’s a loose sense of urgency in the locker room and a business like approach.”
There will also be a 4th period party at the Casa Calabria following Saturday’s game.
Game Notes: The two teams split the first series of the season on Dec. 9-10 in Sault Ste. Marie…3,138 fans were in attendance…NMU can also clinch home ice by recording more points in the standing than Ohio State or Notre Dame…LSSU’s Kyle Jean must sit out Saturday’s game after a five-minute major and game disqualification for facemasking.
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