MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University hockey team welcomed the Ferris State Bulldogs to town for game one of the weekend series and routed the Bulldogs with a 9-2 victory. The Wildcats improve to 15-16-0 overall and 11-12-0 in CCHA play, as the Bulldogs fall to 12-15-4 overall and 9-11-3 in conference play.
15 different ‘Cats tallied at least one point, with seven ‘Cats recording multi-point nights (Papp 3A, Larson 2G, Shlaine, Ghantous, Eddy, de May, and Kjellberg 1G, 1A, respectively). Beni Halasz stopped 23 of 25 shots against, posting a .920 SV%.
Joey Larsons’ two goals eight seconds apart ties a CCHA record for the fastest consecutive goals by one player (Prev., Ryan McLeod, Alas. Fairbanks vs. Bowling Green March 11, 2005).
How It Happened
The game started relatively tame, as neither team generated many scoring chances or maintained offensive zone pressure. The Bulldogs had a 3-1 shot advantage in the first five minutes.
The ‘Cats won an offensive zone faceoff and worked the puck around beautifully, leading to a point shot from Simon Kjellberg that beat the goalie Noah Giesbrecht due to a screen from Artem Shlaine. This was Kjellberg’s second goal of the season and his third point in his last four games. Kristof Papp and Colby Enns both picked up helpers.
Minutes later, the Wildcats were whistled for a minor penalty, but that didn’t matter to the green and gold. Andre Ghantous found himself all alone on a breakaway but could not convert. Ghantous corralled the puck in the corner and found Artem Shlaine who snuck his way into the slot and buried a one-timer past Giesbrecht’s blocker hand for a shorthanded goal, the ‘Cats seventh of the year.
On the same penalty kill, AJ Vanderbeck found Connor Eddy streaking down the middle on a breakaway. And even with a defender all over him, he made no mistake in burying his opportunity. This was Eddy’s fourth goal of the year and Vanderbeck’s 16th assist, along with the ‘Cats eighth penalty-kill tally of the season.
With a minute remaining in the first frame, Tanner Vescio walked the blue line and fired a wrist shot from the point that beat Noah Giesbrecht due to a Michael Colella screen. Connor Eddy and Vincent de May picked up helpers on the goal, giving Eddy a multi-point evening and de May his first assist of the year.
The ‘Cats were opportunistic on their chances in the first period, scoring four times with two of them short-handed tallies. The ‘Cats outshot the Dogs 11-7.
The Bulldogs came out of the recess looking for a response to the first-period onslaught. Five minutes in, Connor McGrath received a stretch pass from his own zone as he was behind the NMU defenders, walked in all alone, and slid a backhand through the five-hole of Beni Halasz. Dallas Tulik picked up the lone assist.
The Wildcats took two penalties and failed to get anything going to start the period, but found a spark late in the frame scoring two goals in eight seconds. Joey Larson scored his 10th off a deflection from a Simon Kjellberg shot, then seconds later he received a cross-crease pass from Artem Shlaine and deposited his 11th of the season into a wide-open cage to give the ‘Cats a 6-1 lead. The goals eight seconds apart by Larson tied a CCHA record for the fastest back-to-back goals by one player (Ryan McLeod, Alas. Fairbanks Bowling Green March 11, 2005).
The ‘Cats rode the five-goal lead into the locker room while being narrowly outshot 13-14 in the second frame. The ‘Cats took four penalties to FSU’s two and won 15 of 23 faceoffs.
Vincent de May stripped the puck from a defender at NMU’s blueline and walked in on a partial breakaway. Vincent wound up a slap shot from the top of the right circle and whistled one past the stick of Geisbrecht, giving de May seven goals on the season and a two-point night.
A few minutes later and the ‘Cats coughed the puck up in their own zone, and Jacob Dirks walked into the slot unguarded and beat Beni Halasz over the stick side.
The ‘Cats found themselves with a five-on-three advantage and made no mistake as Kristof Papp fired a pass across the seam to a wide-open Andre Ghantous who beat Geisbrecht moving east to west. This was Ghantous’ seventh goal of the season and Papp’s third assist of the game.
Tempers boiled over for the Bulldogs and the ‘Cats got another two-man advantage. It was brotherly love, as Mike Van Unen fed his twin brother Rylan Van Unen and scored under the glove on the short side. This was Rylan’s first goal of the season and Mike’s third assist. Tanner Vescio also picked up an assist, giving him a multi-point night.
The final minutes wound down, and the ‘Cats won game one by a score of 9-2.
- Nine goals is the second most goals scored in a single game against Ferris State (most, 14-1, 12/14/1976). This is the second time this season the Wildcats scored nine goals in a game (10/21/22 vs Alaska-Anchorage).
- Joey Larsons’ two goals eight seconds apart ties a CCHA record for the fastest consecutive goals by one player (Prev., Ryan McLeod, Alas. Fairbanks vs. Bowling Green March 11, 2005).
- Kristof Papp led the Wildcats with a three-point night with three assists, the second three-point outing of his career (10/21/22, 2G, 1A vs. Alaska-Anchorage).
- Joey Larson scored two goals on the evening, a career-high in goals in one game and the fifth multi-point game of his career. Larson has seven points (6G, A) in his last six games.
- Artem Shlaine picked up a goal and an assist, giving him six points in his last six games (2G, 4A), and fourth multi-point night.
- Andre Ghantous recorded a goal and an assist, giving him five points in his last five (3G, 2A), and his sixth multi-point evening.
- Connor Eddy recorded two points (G, A), the first multi-point game, game-winning goal, and short-handed goal of his career, and has three points in his last two (G, 2A).
- Vincent de May recorded a goal and an assist, his third multi-point game of the season, and is riding four points in his last three games.
- Simon Kjellberg recorded a goal and assist, recording his first multi-point night of the season, and has four points in his last four games.
- Beni Halasz stopped 23 of 25 shots faced, recording a .920 SV%.
- The special teams were on point tonight as the ‘Cats were a perfect 4/4 on the PK while recording two short-handed goals, and went 2/4 on the powerplay. The ‘Cats are 26/27 on the PK in their last eight games.
- The Wildcats improve to 11-5-0 when scoring first, 7-0-0 when leading after the first, 8-0-0 when leading after the second, and 14-3-0 when scoring three or more goals.
6:06 – Simon Kjellberg (NMU, 1-0), Assisted by Kristof Papp and Colby Enns.
11:36 – Artem Shlaine (NMU SH, 2-0), Assisted by Andre Ghantous and Aiden Gallacher.
12:28 – Connor Eddy (NMU SH, 3-0), Assisted by AJ Vanderbeck.
18:46 – Tanner Vescio (NMU, 4-0), Assisted by Connor Eddy and Vincent de May.
4:56 – Connor McGrath (FSU, 4-1), Assisted by Dallas Tulik.
13:18 – Joey Larson (NMU, 5-1), Assisted by Simon Kjellberg.
13:26 – Joey Larson (NMU, 6-1), Assisted by Artem Shlaine and Kristof Papp.
4:11 – Vincent de May (NMU, 7-1), Unassisted.
6:50 – Jacob Dirkss (FSU, 7-2), Unassisted.
11:01 – Andre Ghantous (NMU PP, 8-2), Assisted by Kristof Papp and Josh Zinger.
12:44 – Rylan Van Unen (NMU PP, 9-2), Assisted by Reily Funk and Mike Van Unen.
The ‘Cats host the Bulldogs for game two of the series on Saturday, February 18, at 6:07 p.m. The seniors will be honored before puck drop, so get here early!