MARQUETTE, Mich. — Sophomore Jimmy Jackson scored the game-winning goal for Northern Michigan Saturday as the Wildcats beat Lake Superior State 3-1 to earn home ice for the first round of the CCHA tournament.
Jackson’s goal just 14 seconds into the third period broke both a 1-1 tie in the game and a fifth-place CCHA deadlock, lifting the Wildcats into a lone No. 5 spot. NMU (16-11-7, 12-10-6 CCHA) will host Western Michigan in a best-of-three series next weekend in Marquette.
The win also completed a weekend sweep for the Wildcats, giving them the rights to the Cappo Cup, given to the winner of the regular-season series between the U.P. rivals. Northern Michigan beat LSSU three of the four times they played this season.
Junior center Chad Theuer scored two of NMU’s three goals in the win, netting the tying goal in the second and an empty-net marker in the third.
“Lake Superior State is a tough team to play against,” NMU coach Rick Comley said. “I know they missed the playoffs, but they are big and strong and those are the types of teams that have given us trouble.
It was LSSU that struck first, when Aaron Phillips scored on the power play at 4:19 of the first to give his team a 1-0 lead.
But Theuer evened the score at 14:58 of the second, tipping a Tim Lindberg point shot past Laker goalie Jayme Platt to net his ninth of the season.
Platt stopped 39 NMU shots in the game, but was beaten again when Jackson ripped a slapper over his blocker-side shoulder 14 seconds into the third.
Theuer capped the win with his empty-netter from Ryan Riipi and goaltender Dan Ragusett. Ragusett, a senior, stopped 15 shots on Senior Night to earn the win in net. A Berry Events Center record 4,039 fans were on hand.
“We’re at home, and that’s all we wanted when we started the year,” Comley said of the coming playoff series. “It’s going to be Western Michigan, which is an outstanding team with a great ability to score goals. But we played well against them up here before, so it’s just great to be at home.”
NMU beat the Broncos 7-1 in January and followed with a 1-1 tie the next night.
Lake Superior State finishes its season at 13-23-0 overall and 8-20-0 in CCHA play.