SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — When the Northern Michigan Wildcats and the Lake Superior Lakers met in late November earlier this season, the Wildcats came out with a sweep. This time around, the Lakers decided it was their time to shine, and they did so with a 3-2 win.
The first period was evenly matched in every sense of the term. Both teams had one power play and took two penalties. Neither took definite possession of the puck for more than 30 seconds and you couldn’t tell the difference between the special teams and regular lines.
“We came out a little flat at the beginning but we really turned it around and stuck to it in the third,” Laker freshman Rick Schofield said. “We knew what we had to do and we just had to outwork them. They’re a very hard-working team and without that we just came out and took it to them in the end.”
The second period gained momentum when the Wildcats made their way onto the board. The goal, a redirected shot from Matt Siddall and Alan Dorich, traveled up the goalie’s chest and behind him into the net.
At 14:52, the Lakers’ Pat Aubry took a hooking penalty. The resulting faceoff, won by Northern’s Jared Brown, sent the puck to Erik Gustafsson who passed it to Mark Olver. Olver took the score up a notch at 14:56 with a power shot from outside the faceoff circle that went behind Laker goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson’s right shoulder.
“We made really bad mistakes to give them their two-goal lead,” Lakers’ coach Jim Roque said. “The first goal we chipped it to their point and we just threw away. The second one with a faceoff mistake. A freshman went to the wrong guy there and Olver buried it. But our guys battled back.”
The Lakers retaliated with a goal shot left of Wildcat goalie Brian Stewart’s left leg at 18:46 off the stick of Nathan Perkovich, with assists to John Scrymgeour and Jason Blain.
The third period began in the Lakers’ favor. At 2:08 Cater Lee shot the puck from outside the faceoff circle and behind Stewart’s right shoulder. Zac MacVoy and Schofield had the assists that tied up the game 2-2.
“Schofield was CCHA Rookie of the Week last week and he had two great goals,” Roque said. “He’s been our best freshman all year. He’s a big, strong kid. He plays with two good players, [Dan] Eves and MacVoy. Danny is a senior and both have been strong scorers all year. He’s had a lot of help and that line is becoming stronger. His line had all three goals tonight. So they had a great night.”
“It’s easy playing with Eves and MacVoy,” Schofield said. “They get the puck where we want it and when you give them the puck most of the time it’s going to the net. It’s a pleasure playing with those guys.”
With ten minutes left in the game, the board was an even match. Each team had two goals and 22 shots on goal. The Lakers got the edge at 15:54 with a goal from Schofield, with assists to Eves and MacVoy, to put them ahead 3-2 and secure the win.
“Northern’s a very hard-checking team and they don’t leave a lot of room for errors so if you do make a mistake they usually capitalize on it,” Schofield said. “So we just tried to limit our mistakes and tried taking it to them and I think that’s why we won.
“I’m pretty excited for Saturday’s game. It’s always exciting going to a rink with hostile fans, either for or against, and we’re looking forward to it. I think the game will really open up with the big sheet of ice so it’s going to be fun.”
“The kids have played hard and we have the confidence now that we didn’t have at the beginning of the season,” Roque said. “We’re learning how to win a little bit. We’re excited to go back to Northern Saturday night and hopefully win the [Father Cappo] Cup back.”
The series and the regular season will finish up at the Berry Events Center in Marquette on Saturday, March 1.