MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and the Northern Michigan Wildcats took a break from their respective conference schedules as they battled in a rare Wednesday night meeting. The Bulldog offense capitalized on myriad opportunities to defeat NMU, 6-4.
When the second period opened, NMU (6-5-2) and UMD (3-5-3) were locked at 1. The landscape of the game quickly changed, however, as UMD forward Drew Akins put the Bulldogs up at the 1:18 mark. The goal was just the beginning of an offensive avalanche that would last for half of the period.
Only 30 seconds later, forward Matt Greer netted a shot from rookie goalie Brian Stewart’s left side. The goal put UMD up 3-1 and resulted in a goalie shift for the Wildcats.
“I just felt off today,” Stewart said after the game. “My game wasn’t sound at all. I’d go down to make a play and direct a puck to the corner and it would flip up on me. It just wasn’t my day.”
Senior Bill Zaniboni took over the goalkeeping duties for the Wildcats. And that was when the Bulldog power play kicked in.
Logan Gorsalitz and MacGregor Sharp both scored goals during 5-on-3 opportunities and Trent Palm pitched in with a power-play goal of his own. On the night, UMD scored on three of six power-play opportunities. Defenseman T.J. Miller chipped in a goal for the ‘Cats, who were down 6-2 when the second period expired in front of a stunned Marquette crowd.
“We just came out slow tonight. We didn’t come out hitting and we didn’t come out playing our game,” Miller said. “We tried to run-and-gun with these guys and they’re a good team and took it to us.”
NMU took five penalties in the second. Asked if his team was undisciplined, Wildcat coach Walt Kyle responded shortly.
“I would say that we were stupid,” he said. “We took some very bad penalties and things started to snowball on us. The game got away from us, big-time.”
The Wildcats came out rejuvenated in the final period and scored two power-play goals of their own in the first five minutes of play. The comeback effort was a case of too little too late, however, and the Wildcats lost their fifth game of the year.
“I’m pleased that we capitalized on our opportunities tonight,” Bulldog coach Scott Sandelin said. “At times it becomes a special-teams league the way the calls are going, but penalties will happen and we just got a good performance.”
Despite what he felt was a lacking effort from his team, Kyle gave credit where he felt it was due.
“That team executed and did a good job tonight, and you have to give them a lot of credit,” he said of the Bulldogs. “We gave them the opportunities on the power plays in the second and they took advantage and pulled away from us. We weren’t very good until the last third of the game, and that’s not enough.”
“We have to play hard every night, no matter what” Sandelin said. “And I thought that a lot of our guys stepped up and gave us that effort tonight. It was a big win on the road.”
After the mid-week matchup the Bulldogs get a week of rest while the Wildcats will depart immediately for Kalamazoo, Mich., where they will face off against the Western Michigan Broncos in a two-game set.