MARQUETTE, Mich. — After the Northern Michigan Wildcats upset the Michigan State Spartans last night, fans expected either bloodshed or a Spartan blowout. On the contrary, the Wildcats ended the weekend with their first sweep since Lake Superior State back in November with a 3-0 victory.
Every home series is pretty big, Wildcat senior Matt Siddall said, especially when the team coming in is a big rivalry. These wins are huge for us!
The game started in the Spartans favor as Northerns Matt Butcher took a five minute major game misconduct at 5:26 for checking from behind. States Tim Crowder evened up the ice with an interference call 24 seconds later.
With three minutes left in Crowders penalty, Northerns Matt Siddall went to the box for tripping, giving the Spartans one minute and 57 seconds of 5-on-3. Despite their advantage, the Spartans remained scoreless and only racked in two shots on goal.
The team did everything they had to do to block shots tonight, Wildcat coach Walt Kyle said of the Cats defense. If you can imagine, getting hit by a puck is not a great thing and they did a good job getting themselves in front of it.
The Wildcats made their scoreboard debut at 18:00 with a goal from Siddall, who fired the puck from the faceoff circle, across Spartan goalie Jeff Lerg, and into the top right corner of the net.
Starting the second period with a one man advantage, the Wildcats skated with fury, both their offense and defense controlling the play. At 13:28, Northerns Al Dorich was called for holding. The Spartans failed to control the puck during the entire power play giving the Wildcats several scoring opportunities.
With 2:11 left in the second, the puck trickled past Lergs right leg with the
assist of Siddall once again, giving the Wildcats a two goal lead.
I caught some breaks and we capitalized on our chances, Siddall said.
Both teams fought for control as the third period began, but it was Northern that won the battle. Creating scoring opportunities youd only see in the movies, the Wildcats took a 3-0 lead with a display of perfect passing at 12:59 from Mark Olver and Jared Brown.
Brown passed the puck past a Spartan defenseman to Olver who put the puck behind Lergs left shoulder in one flawless motion, much to the pleasure of the crowd.
Its critical that the people in the building to get the motor going, Kyle said. The energy was great. The guys feed off it. We have the best fans in college hockey.
The Wildcats won the game 3-0, giving goalie Brian Stewart his second shutout of the season.
You cant say anything negative about Stewart, Siddall said. Hes been playing absolutely phenomenal and hes gaining confidence and that gives us confidence which lets us grow off each other. He made the saves he had to and its just awesome to see him get the success he deserves.
I thought I played a steady game, Stewart said. I moved nice around the net, stayed square to all the shots and that made my job easier. The team in front of me played great.
Im happy to get a couple wins, Kyle said. Its great for the community because we have so many fans that have stuck with us through the ups and downs this year. Im happy with our leadership.
It didnt matter who go the points or who got the goals, the whole team was committed to the win. If youre going to be a winning team, you have to care about the team more than yourself. The last couple weeks theyve shown theyre for the team.