MARQUETTE, Mich. — The message board at the end of the Berry Events Center should have read something like this: “You are about to enter the Twilight Zone.”
It’s October, we’re coming up on Halloween. You just had that weird feeling. Something was out of place. Was that really Rick Comley standing behind the visitor’s bench? Who was that guy on the NMU bench? It just didn’t feel right.
Fans got tricks and treats Friday night. The trick — a hat trick for NMU sophomore forward Alan Swanson. The treat — 10 goals for Wildcat fans, as Northern Michigan defeated Michigan State, 10-4, in the CCHA opener for both teams.
The last time a team scored 10 or more goals against MSU was Feb. 11, 1994, when Lake Superior State scored 11. The last time the Spartans lost by six or more goals was twice in February, 1996, when they lost to Western Michigan, 7-1, and Michigan, 8-1.
Alan Swanson started thing off for the Wildcats at 4:43 of the first period when he managed to flip in a loose puck over a sprawling Justin Tobe. Just over a minute later, Wildcat freshman Geoff Waugh went to the box on a cross-checking call, and it didn’t take long for the Spartans to capitalize. Senior captain Brad Fast put the puck past Wildcat goaltender Craig Kowalski at 6:14. The period ended that way, with shots even at nine.
The second period is something Rick Comley would probably rather just forget, as NMU erupted for seven goals. Comley must have been wondering why the Wildcats couldn’t do that last year, when he was still coaching in Marquette. Of course, the Spartans had Ryan Miller then, as in the NCAA’s all-time shutout leader.
MSU did enjoy a short-lived lead, when John-Michael Liles scored 45 seconds in, but it was Swanson at it again at 1:55, tying the game back up. NMU then scored three straight from Kevin Gardner, Chris Gobert, and then Mike Stutzel on the power play.
Michigan State tried to play catchup, with Duncan Keith scoring with the man advantage at 10:48, and then Fast adding his second power-play goal of the game at 14:39. But that was all the Spartans could muster, and NMU tallied three more from Dirk Southern, Juha Alen, and Swanson, who finished up the hat trick.
Comley put sophomore goaltender Matt Migliaccio in the net for the third period, but saw little improvement, as the netminder let in one from Gobert at 3:47, and then another from Southern at 4:51.
The two teams faceoff again Saturday night.