MARQUETTE, Mich. — The difference between the caliber of play from Friday to Saturday at the Berry Events Center would have led viewers to believe that imposters were wearing their team’s jerseys.
After a devastating loss to the No. 1 Miami RedHawks on Friday night, the Northern Michigan University Wildcats had one of two options: show up to play, or repeat last night’s 9-2 disaster. With the help of Matt Siddall and Nick Sirota, they clearly chose to show up, including scoring two short-handed goals on the same power play midway through the first.
“Their players did really well,” said Miami’s coach Enrico Blasi. “The plays were well executed; they were just good plays. We have to live with that. Our leaders stayed positive on the bench and we stuck with our game plan.”
Wildcats’ coach Walt Kyle decided to start freshman Reid Ellingson. With the help of a strong defense, Ellingson shut out the RedHawks in the first, stopping seven shots.
“Reid deserved a chance, and he did really well tonight,” said Kyle.
“It was exciting,” said Ellingson. “It’s what you grow up dreaming about. I got my chance tonight and I wanted to give the team a good effort. We played really hard and battled it out in front of the net. We played a solid game; we just came up a little bit short.”
“Reid’s 18 years old, coming out of high school,” said Siddall. “He’s come so far in just the two months he’s been here. He’s a great kid and he works hard. Our team rallies behind him. He played phenomenally.”
In the second period, the RedHawks came alive. Junior Bill Loupee put Miami on the board with a rebound goal at 13:11 during a power play.
The third period began frantically. Less than two minutes in, Miamis Alec Martinez put the puck behind Ellingson with a wrist shot from the faceoff circle on a power play. Miami finally took control of the game 5:15 into the period with their third power play goal of the night by Justin Mercier.
“We came from behind,” said Blasi. “Zatkoff really kept us in the game and gave us the opportunity to get back into it.”
Overall, the Wildcats were pleased with their effort.
“Our fans had our back tonight,” said Siddall. “When the Berrys rocking, theres no better environment to play in. When the adrenaline gets going, we want to keep it going, and our fans do that. Theyre the best fans in college hockey, win or lose.”