NMU hockey: Rough weekend continues for Dahlstrom in 4-3 loss to Alaska

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom had been nothing but stellar in WCHA play heading into the Wildcats first home series of 2014 against Alaska with a league-best save percentage and goals against average.

Eight goals allowed later, including a significant mental lapse in the third period on Saturday, however, has left Dahlstrom asking more of himself.

“I’m not happy with this weekend at all,” Dahlstrom said. “(Friday) I was not sharp enough, but the guys had my back and scored five goals, which was really good.

“I didn’t do the extra. I just didn’t have it this weekend. I’m not that happy with this weekend.”

The Wildcats allowed four unanswered goals in the second and third periods Saturday to lose at home to Alaska for the first time since 2005, falling 4-3 in conference play at the Berry Events Center.

The Wildcats, who beat Alaska 5-4 on Friday, led 2-0 after the first period, but the Nanooks got a pair of goals from sophomore forward Tyler Morley in the second period to tie the game, then picked up two more goals 20 seconds apart in the third period.

“We certainly made some mistakes, but we were right there,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We let 20 minutes get away from us in the second.”

The deciding goal in the game came at the 9:57 mark of the third period, 20 seconds after Alaska redshirt freshman forward Jared Larson put the Nanooks up 3-2.

Dahlstrom was knocked down on a rush by the Nanooks and said he thought a goaltender interference penalty was coming from it. He took his time getting back to the net, leaving it open for Alaska freshman forward Brandon Morley.

Play never stopped, a penalty never came – only a shot from Brandon Morley into an empty net – leaving Dahlstrom kicking himself after the game.

“I made a save first on the right side there, and a guy pushed me way behind the net,” Dahlstrom said. “I got up and skated back to the net and saw the shot came. I thought I was interfered with, but at the same time, I should have found the puck again and got back into position, which I probably didn’t do in time.

“I gave a quick look to the ref to see if I was going to go because I thought we had the puck first. Like I said, I should not care about that. I should just go to the net and find the puck.”

Kyle said after Friday’s game he couldn’t fault Dahlstrom for the goals given up, but after Saturday’s loss, he was reserving judgement until after reviewing tape of the Nanooks’ fourth goal.

Kyle said to him, it looked like goaltender interference to him during the game.

“If it is, I’m not going to be happy,” Kyle said.

“When I watch the tape, I want to see if it is (goaltender interference) and I want to see how (Dahlstrom) reacted to it.”

NMU senior forward Erik Higby scored both of the Wildcats’ goals in the first period off assists from true freshman forward John Siemer to give NMU a 2-0 lead at the first intermission.

Siemer assisted Higby on a two-on-one breakaway 1:51 into the game, with the pair exchanging at least three quick passes to get Alaska goaltender John Keeney out of position for a shot by Higby.

The second goal at 6:27 of the first period came after Siemer escaped from the NMU zone via a pass to himself off the boards. Siemer then dangled the puck around at least three Nanooks before setting up Higby from behind the net for a one-timer.

Siemer pulled NMU within one with 1:27 to play in regulation by splitting two Nanook defenders and forcing a hard shot past Alaska netminder John Keeney. It was Siemer’s second goal of the weekend with the one on Friday being the first of the rookie’s collegiate career.

“(Siemer) is a very skilled player,” Higby said. “He’s definitely going to be a big impact in the playoffs and late in the season.”

Notes: Dahlstrom and Keeney both finished with 23 saves. NMU finished 0 for 6 on the power play with just six shots on goal during the six advantages. Alaska finished 1 for 3 on the power play on Saturday and 4 for 9 on the weekend. NMU was outshot 12-6 in the second period and 9-0 at one point. In the third, NMU outshot the Nanooks 7-2 with both Alaska shots on goal going in. Junior defensemen Mitch Jones and Jake Baker, plus junior forward Reed Seckel had assists for NMU.