MARQUETTE, Mich. - Northern Michigan jumped out to a 2-0 first period lead en route to a 4-1 non-conference hockey victory over Michigan Tech tonight at the Berry Events Center. The Huskies (9-9-1) pulled within 2-1 in the second period before the Wildcats (9-7-3) scored twice in the third period including an empty netter with 1:10 remaining.
"The first period was the hockey game," said head coach Mel Pearson. "They jumped us pretty good, won the battles and scored on their opportunities. We battled back and made it close but couldn't get all the way back. Tonight really showed the importance of a good start."
NMU posted a 14-6 advantage in shots on goal in the first 20 minutes. The Wildcats scored twice in the opening frame, getting goals from Reed Seckel and Erik Higby. Higby's goal came with just 22 seconds remaining in the period.
Kevin Genoe replaced Josh Robinson in the Michigan Tech net at the first intermission. Genoe played a solid 40 minutes, stopping 16-of-17 shots he faced.
"I didn't think Robinson was necessarily playing poorly. I just wanted to put Genoe in to see if I could give the team a spark," said Pearson. "I thought he did an excellent job coming into a tough situation."
The Huskies got things turned around in the second period with a 12-10 advantage in shots. The margin remained 2-0 until Aaron Pietila redirected a shot in front of NMU goalie Jared Coreau. It was Pietila's first goal of the season, and Alex MacLeod and Steve Seigo both drew assists.
Tech continued to apply pressure in the third with a 12-8 advantage in shots on goal. The Huskies had a five-on-three power play for 49 seconds early in the frame but couldn't get the equalizer.
The score remained 2-1 until a turnover led to a Wildcat goal at the 8:30 mark. Tyler Gron wristed a shot past Genoe on a two-on-one to make the score 3-1.
Tech sent out the extra attacker with two minutes remaining, and Gron made a diving play to knock the puck into the empty net at the 18:50 mark to seal the Huskies' fate.
Neither team scored on the power play. The Huskies had five chances including the five-on-three. NMU went 0-for-2 on the man advantage including a full minute of five-on-three in the first period.
Robinson, the goalie of record in the loss, and Genoe combined to stop 28-of-32 shots. Coreau posted 29 saves for NMU.
Michigan Tech will have 12 days off before hosting the 2011 Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Dec. 29-30. The Huskies face Michigan State in the first semifinal. Michigan and Boston College will meet in the other semifinal.