NMU hockey: Wildcats unable to crawl out of hole caused by penalties against Alaska

FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Three penalties, including a five-minute major, during a two-minute span in the second period doomed the Northern Michigan University hockey team in a 5-4 WCHA loss on Friday to Alaska at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Wildcats (2-5-0 overall, 1-2-0 in WCHA) fell behind 2-0 late in the first period via Nanooks (4-1-2, 1-0-0) goals by Tyler and Brandon Morley that were separated by less than 90 seconds.

NMU senior forward Stephan Vigier picked up his sixth goal of the season via an assist by junior forward Reed Seckel at 17:53 of the first period to put Northern down 2-1 at the first intermission.

Wildcats sophomore forward Cohen Adair tied the game at 2-2 at 4:28 of the second, but what followed was three costly penalties, all by junior or senior NMU defenseman.

Junior Luke Eibler was called for a five-minute boarding major at 7:27 of the second and senior C.J. Ludwig gave the Nanooks the first of back-to-back 5-on-3 power plays with a tripping penalty at 8:06 of the second.

Alaska’s Marcus Basara capitalized on the first two-man advantage by scoring his third goal of the year at 9:25 of the second to put the Nanooks back on top. At the same time, NMU senior Wade Epp was called for cross checking to put Alaska right back on the 5-on-3 power play.

Like Basara, the Nanooks’ Colton Beck took advantage of the opportunity and scored his third goal of the year 45 seconds into Epp’s penalty to make it 4-2 Nanooks.

Shawn Hochhausen, with his first goal of the year, put Northern down 5-2 with 2:59 left before the second intermission and the score proved vital for the Nanooks.

Northern scored twice in the final six minutes of regulation to nearly tie the Nanooks.

Ludwig cut the Alaska lead to two with his third goal of the season on what was only the Wildcats second power play of the night.

Adair picked up his second goal of the night unassisted with 2:04 to play and nearly to tied the game about a minute later, but his backhand attempt at a hat trick was deflected wide.

Nanooks goaltender John Keeney only had to make 15 saves against Northern to improve to 2-1-1 on the year.

Sophomore Michael Doan got the start in Northern’s goal, but was pulled late in the second period after giving up five goals on 22 shots. Redshirt freshman Mathias Dahlstrom stopped all eight shots he faced in just over a period of action.

The Wildcats and Nanooks meet in Game 2 of the series at 11:07 p.m. EDT on Saturday in Fairbanks.

Notes: NMU freshman Sami Salminen assisted on Adair’s first goal for his first collegiate point. … Freshmen Brock Maschmeyer and Shane Sooth, as well as Vigier, also had assists. … NMU was outshot 30-19. … Alaska was called for just two penalties, giving NMU just two power plays in the game. The Wildcats were whistled six times for 15 minutes, giving Alaska six power plays. The Nanooks converted on three of the advantages.