Wildcats Claim Victory Over MTU With Overtime Game-Winner

NCAA

HOUGHTON, Mich. – An overtime thriller, the Northern Michigan University hockey team skated to a 3-2 victory Friday night over in-state rival Michigan Technological University.

A late goal by the Huskies to force the overtime session was no deterrent for the Wildcats as it took AJ Vanderbeck 1:24 of extra hockey to give his team the win.

The Wildcats struck first, snapping MTU’s then-perfect penalty kill unit, when Ben Newhouse fired a shot from the point into the back of the net.

The Wildcats continued to have a handful of good looks on net but held the 1-0 lead until late in the period when the Huskies found the scoreboard with 1:17 to go in the period. Sophomore netminder Rico DiMatteo had made 16 saves in the period prior to the MTU goal.

The two sides skated even in the second, both registering a handful of shots on net but it was the Wildcats coming out big towards the end of the period as Hank Crone found himself on the breakaway and beat the MTU goaltender top shelf to make it 2-1, NMU, after two periods of play.

A chippy third period saw a series of penalties called against both squads but the two teams’ penalty kill units left every shot turned aside and the ‘Cats held their one-goal lead late.

The Huskies knotted things back up with 1:06 left in regulation as they opted for the extra attacker. David Keefer nearly found the back of the empty net with just under 90 seconds to play but an icing call extended a long shift in the Wildcats’ defensive zone.

The overtime session began with the Wildcats pressuring hard, not allowing MTU much time with the puck. A brief clear by the home team found AJ Vanderbeck intercepting the pass in the neutral zone and skating it into the Wildcat end. Waiting for his moment, Vanderbeck skated along the blue line momentarily before firing a shot into the net for the game-clinching goal.

GOALS

  • Ben Newhouse lit the lamp at 10:43 of the first period with a shot from the point. AJ Vanderbeck and Hank Crone danced around the front of the net on the man-advantage before finding Newhouse at the blue line who ripped a shot through traffic to give NMU the 1-0 lead.
  • Crone scored off the backhand to give NMU the 2-1 lead late in the second period. The Wildcats gathered a loose puck in the defensive zone and sent the puck up ice passed a diving MTU skater. Vanderbeck’s pass found the stick of Crone alone at center ice for the breakaway goal.
  • Vanderbeck found the game-winning goal at 1:24 of the overtime session as he skated the puck into the offensive zone, waiting patiently before firing a shot from the top of the circle. His 14th of the season was an unassisted tally and his third point of the night.

KEY STATS

  • Prior the Ben Newhouse’s tally in the first period, MTU had not allowed a gaol all season on the penalty kill.
  • AJ Vanderbeck, with his game-winning tally, led the team in points Friday night, picking up one point on all three Wildcat goals (1-2-3). Linemate Hank Crone also tallied multiple points in the win, with a goal and an assist.
  • The two now boast three game-point streaks with Vanderbeck registering four goals and three assists for seven points in his last three games played, while Crone owns a goal and four assists for five points in the same stretch.
  • The team’s first goal scorer Friday night, Ben Newhouse is now on a two-game point-streak (1-1-2).
  • Rico DiMatteo tied his career-high save total, stopping 43 shots in 61:24 between the pipes Friday.
  • The Wildcats were perfect on the penalty kill, stopping each attempt on their two kills while picking up one goal on the power play for a 25 percent success rate.
  • NMU blocked 19 shots in the contest, led by Mike Van Unen with six stops. Joseph Nardi, Tim Erkkila and Trevor Cosgrove each boasted multiple blocks in the win as well.

UP NEXT

The two teams close out the weekend series Saturday night in Marquette. Puck drop is scheduled for 6:37 p.m. inside a sold out Berry Events Center.

Fans are encouraged to wear white to the game.

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