Houghton, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University men’s hockey team dropped game one in Houghton by a score of 3-0. The Wildcats fall to 12-13-0, 8-9-0, and the Huskies improve to 17-7-4, 10-5-4.

The ‘Cats were blanked for the second time this season, were outshot 20-36, and went 23/55 in the faceoff circle. Both teams’ penalty kills were perfect, with NMU killing 3/3 and MTU going 4/4. The ‘Cats blocked 17 shots to the Huskies’ eight blocks, and Beni Halasz made 33 saves and posted a .943 save%.

Michigan Tech netminder Blake Pietila stopped all 20 shots he faced and earned his nation-leading seventh shutout this season and 17th of his career. Tyrone Bronte’s first-period tally stood for the game-winner, and both Ryland Mosley (1G, 1A) and Kyle Kukkonen (1G, 1A) posted multi-point nights.

How It Happened
The game started with lots of defense to start, highlighted by a Luke Gramer diving play to stop a cross-seam pass. Tech was able to get momentum and goaltender Beni Halasz had to be on his game to start, as the ‘Cats were outshot 0-5 in the first five minutes.

After a successful Wildcat penalty kill, a blocked shot sprang Aiden Gallacher on a breakaway as he stepped out of the box, and with a man all over him he got a shot off but Blake Pietila closed the five-hole and kept the game scoreless.

After lots of zone time and pressure from the Huskies, the ‘Cats had another grade-A opportunity on a two-on-one that they could not convert. This was the ‘Cats third shot of the period, only amassing two in the first 14 minutes.

Andre Ghantous drew a penalty in front of the MTU net to give his team the man advantage, but halfway through the power play he took a penalty and the squads skated 4×4 for a minute. The Huskies couldn’t get much going on their abbreviated power play, and the teams returned to five-on-five.

The horn sounded and the teams returned to their respective locker rooms with zero’s on the scoreboard. NMU was outshot 5-10, but the ‘Cats did well to clamp down and only allowed five shots in the final 15 minutes of the period.

The first period started fast, as Josh Zinger got a pass coming down the left side and was able to get a high-quality chance in the first minute of the period. 30 seconds later, Joey Larson let one rip through traffic from the top of the circle, but Pietila was able to make the save.

The ‘Cats got their second power play opportunity just under five minutes into the period, but the highlight was a huge couple of saves by Beni Halasz on a short-handed 2-on-1 opportunity for the Huskies. The successful penalty kill seemed to energize the Huskies, as there was a mad flurry in the ‘Cats zone before the Wildcats were able to just fire it down the ice for a stoppage. This forced coach Grant Potulny to use his timeout to rest his tired skaters.

The ‘Cats got hemmed into their own end, with some solid forechecking for the Huskies and tough puck luck for the Wildcats, the Huskies were able to find a loose puck behind the ‘Cats net and it squeaked through to a wide-open Husky in front of the net, and the Huskies took a 1-0 lead.

The ‘Cats got a man advantage and moved the puck around well, but were unable to find the back of the net. The Huskies killed the penalty and got a couple of good chances to extend the lead, but Halasz stood tall.

The Huskies were whistled for an interference infraction with 38 seconds left in the period, and the ‘Cats generated a high-quality chance as time expired, but time was not on their side. The ‘Cats got outshot 13-8 in the second frame and were down one going into the third.

The ‘Cats came out of the intermission buzzing generating lots of offensive pressure with the remainder of their power play, but again the Huskies’ penalty kill came through. Artem Shaline found himself wide open in between the hash marks a few minutes later but the puck jumped over his stick and couldn’t pull the trigger.

It was all NMU to start, outshooting MTU 5-1 in the opening seven minutes and change. The Huskies managed to draw a penalty, but some great short-handed work by Andre Ghantous and the ‘Cats and they killed the penalty only allowing one shot on the penalty.

The Huskies gained the zone and got some offensive pressure, shoveled a puck toward the net, corraled a bouncing puck in the crease, and squeaked it home to get a 2-0 lead. The Huskies would find the empty net, and the final buzzer sounded 20 seconds later.

Post Game Notes

  • The Wildcats were outshot 20-36, dropping to 5-9-0 when being outshot by an opponent and 4-8-0 when allowing the first goal.
  • Beni Halasz made 33 saves and posted a .942 save%.
  • Joey Larson and AJ Vanderbeck led the ‘Cats with three shots each, Artem Shlaine was 7/8 in the faceoff circle and David Keefer was a perfect 5/5.
  • The Wildcats are now 0-5-0 when both AJ Vanderbeck and Andre Ghantous are held off the score sheet.
  • The ‘Cats are now 0-9-0 when trailing after two periods this season.
  • On their birthday, Blake Pietila posted his nation-leading seventh shutout and 17th of his career, and his twin brother Logan recorded a goal.
  • Six different Huskies recorded at least one point.

Goal Summary
1st Period

2nd Period
12:52 – Tyrone Bronte (MTU, 0-1) – Assisted by Nick Nardella.

3rd Period
17:31 – Logan Pietila (MTU, 0-2) – Assisted by Kyle Kukkonen and Ryland Mosley.
19:38 – Ryland Mosley (MTU ENG, 0-3) – Assisted by Kyle Kukkonen and Jed Pietila.

Up Next
The ‘Cats host the Huskies tomorrow on home ice at 6:07 p.m.