NMU hockey: Dahlstrom leads Wildcats to victory over Falcons, back into WCHA playoff picture

MARQUETTE – To beat Northern Michigan University redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom on Friday at the Berry Events Center, Bowling Green needed more than just a man advantage late in the third period.

One rebound wasn’t enough either.

“The guys played really good in front of me this whole night,” said Dahlstrom after Northern’s 4-1 victory over the Falcons in WCHA play. “A few times I had to make saves, but still, they cleaned up a lot.”

One of the few times the defense didn’t clean up Dahlstrom’s front porch was the only time the Falcons found the back of the net Friday.

A second rebound and third consecutive swat at the puck by BGSU junior forward Ryan Carpenter with 2:10 remaining in regulation spoiled Dahlstrom’s shutout, just moments after the NMU rookie netminder nabbed a rebound via a diving save that officials needed to see a second time to believe.

“We let (Dahlstrom) down,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said.

“Mathias to his credit at the end – we said, ‘Dahly, we’re sorry we let that one get away.’ And he said, ‘The only thing that counts is winning that game and now it’s winning tomorrow night’s game.'”

Dahlstrom finished with 24 saves to move the Wildcats into eighth place in the WCHA via a Alabama-Huntsville victory at Bemidji State. It was only the Chargers second win of the season.

The Wildcats, who started the weekend in ninth, could climb as high as fifth Saturday when they go for the sweep of the Falcons at 7:07 p.m. at the BEC.

A loss could also put NMU back into ninth in the league, which is why NMU senior Wade Epp is focused on the two points, not winning possibly his last game in Marquette as a Wildcat.

“We kind of have to win the game,” Epp said. “We’re more focused on doing what we need to do to get the two points to put ourselves in a better position to make the playoffs.”

Four different players – two forwards and two defenseman – scored four goals to put the Wildcats up 4-0 midway through the third period.

NMU senior forward and captain Stephan Vigier tallied his 15th goal and 27th point of the season by deflecting a pass by junior defenseman Luke Eibler top shelf 6:59 into the first period.

Eibler than scored a goal of his own at 10:47 of the second period with an assist from junior forward Reed Seckel, who found Eibler rushing all alone into the BGSU zone for the easy snipe.

“I think Luke Eibler had his best game as part of the program tonight,” Kyle said.

Eibler’s score was the first of three unchecked goals by the Wildcats with NMU freshman forward John Siemer finding a wide open Brock Maschmeyer, the freshman defenseman, walking into the Falcons’ zone to make it 3-0 at 12:26 of the second.

Siemer than picked up his sixth goal of the season and 15th point in 16 games 12:11 into the third via an assist by sophomore forward Darren Nowick. By the time the Falcons defenders realized Nowick had dished the puck, Siemer had already stuck the puck top shelf to put the game away.

“We took advantage of a good start and took advantage of their turnovers,” Vigier said. “As the game went on, we had a few turnovers that we shouldn’t have. We should have cleaned up our game a little bit.”

Dahlstrom got off to a slow start in the first period having to only make two saves. Things heated up in the second period when he faced a pair of breakaways as part of his 10 shots. Then in the third, NMU got caught on its heals, getting outshot 13-4 by the Falcons.

The third period included Northern’s only two penalties of the game – a hooking call on freshman forward Shane Sooth that led to a BGSU pows play goal and a hooking call on junior forward Ryan Kesti with 54 seconds to play.

Just like the goal he surrendered, Dahlstrom said he had no problem sitting back and watching the first 20 minutes or so Friday before the game finally came to him.

“I got in the game at a good pace,” Dahlstrom said. “They didn’t get any big chances, which helped a lot.

“Today was so fun watching the guys play and it was so good. I was really in the game anyway.”

NOTES: NMU freshman forward Gerard Hanson assisted on both Siemer and Machmeyer’s goals to bring his point total to six in 14 games. BGSU sophomore goaltender Tommy Burke finished with 21 saves. Tonight’s regular-season home finale is Senior Night. NMU will salute its Class of 2014 prior to the 7:07 p.m. puck drop.