WCHA recaps: Northern Michigan turns back Wisconsin to win opener

8 Jan 16: Brad McClure (Minnesota State - 19), Ate Tolvanen (Northern Michigan - 41). The Minnesota State University Mavericks host the Northern Michigan University Wildcats in a WCHA conference matchup at Verizon Wireless Center in Mankato, MN. (Jim Rosvold)

ASHWAUBENON, Wis. — The Northern Michigan Wildcats were just barely holding on, but they found a way to escape with a season-opening victory.

Atte Tolvanen stopped 15 shots in the third period in the Wildcats’ 3-2 victory over Wisconsin at the Resch Center, handing new Badgers coach Tony Granato a loss in his debut.

The Wildcats were called for four straight penalties in the opening half of the third period, giving the Badgers nearly seven minutes of power-play time.

“They had us on our heels bad in that stretch,” Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle said.

But Tolvanen stopped all six Badgers power-play shots he faced, including one that needed to be confirmed on a video replay.

“We were resilient and we found a way,” Kyle said.

Tolvanen ended up with 27 saves for the Wildcats (1-0), and Gerard Hanson had a goal and two assists.

Northern Michigan defeated Wisconsin for the fifth straight time at the Resch Center and sent the Badgers (0-1) to their seventh loss in their last nine season openers (1-7-1).

Hanson scored 19 seconds into the game when Badgers goaltender Matt Jurusik couldn’t hold onto Brock Maschmeyer’s shot.

“In my mind, I pictured us getting off to a better start,” Granato said. “The way we’ve gone, what we’ve built on, I thought we’d be nice and confident.”

After Will Johnson scored a power-play goal for the Badgers, Robbie Payne put the Wildcats ahead for good with a five-on-three goal that he deflected past Jurusik.

Corbin McGuire brought the Badgers within a goal on the first shift of the third period and the Badgers built momentum through the power play.

Wisconsin, however, was called for three penalties in a 3:39 span to quell the rally.

Elsewhere in the WCHA

Minnesota State 3, Michigan Tech 1

The Mavericks scored twice in 23 seconds to break a 1-1 tie late in the first period en route to a 3-1 victory. Daniel Brickley led the way for Minnesota State with a goal and two assists, while Cole Huggins got the win in goal making 20 stops. All four of the game’s goals were scored in game’s first 14:43.

Bemidji State 2, Bowling Green 1

The Beavers got first-period goals from Zach Whitecloud and Myles Fitzgerald en route to a 2-1 win at home. Michael Bitzer stopped 20 shots, including 11 in the final period. Stephan Baylis’ third period marker was the only goal for the Falcons.

Western Michigan 2, Ferris State 1

Ferris State’s Chad McDonald gave Ferris State an early lead on Friday but that wasn’t enough as second-period tallies by Matheson Iacopelli and Scott Moldenhauer rallied the the Bulldogs to a 2-1 win in non-conference play. Darren Smith’s 38-save effort was not enough in goal for the Bulldogs, who fall to 0-3-0 on the young season.

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