Kalamazoo, MI - The Northern Michigan University Hockey Wildcats dug themselves out of a two-goal first period deficit to defeat non-conference opponent Western Michigan University on Saturday, November 9, in the first game of their two-game series. The final score was 5-4 in favor of the Wildcats. Northern Michigan improves to 4-5 overall while the Western Michigan Broncos become 3-3-1 on the season. The two teams will play again on Sunday, November 10, in the second game of their series at 5 p.m.
Nolan LaPorte opened scoring just 1:49 into the game on an even strength goal. Wildcat senior Stephan Vigier responded with his eighth goal of the season at 2:58 of the first period with senior CJ Ludwig and junior Ryan Daugherty assisting on the goal. Vigier's goal added to his streak as he has now scored a goal in the last seven straight games.
The Broncos managed to tally two more goals in the first period, both by Kyle Novak. Wildcat Mitch Jones was whistled with the lone first-period penalty at 9:46 on a hooking offense. Novak used the man-advantage to his advantage as he lit the lamp with a power play goal at 10:18 of the first period. Under a minute later he scored again to give the Broncos the 3-1 lead at 11:12 of the first period.
The Wildcats came out on a mission for the second period. Erik Higby scored his second goal of the season at 1:14 with freshmen Shane Sooth and Dominik Shine assisting. Bronco Mike McKee was then whistled for checking from behind and was given a five-minute major penalty for the hit. The Wildcats were able to use the power play to tie the game at 3-3 when Stephan Vigier scored his ninth goal of the season and second goal of the game at 3:41. Ludwig and junior Mitch Jones assisted on the goal. To close out the third period senior Reed Seckel found the back of the net to give the Wildcats the 4-3 lead at 15:25 of the second period. Junior Luke Eibler and Jones picked up assists on the goal.
The Wildcats and Broncos both kept the pressure on throughout the third period. At 18:44 Higby scored his second of the game and third of the year, again from Shine and Sooth. Higby's goal put the 'Cats up 5-3 but ended up standing as the game-winner as the Broncos put one past redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom with just seven seconds left in regulation with the man-advantage on the Bronco empty net.
Dahlstrom ended the night with 41 saves for the Wildcats on 45 shots. Frank Slubowski had 17 saves for the Broncos. The Broncos had 20 shots in comparison to 8 for the Wildcats in the first period. In period number two the Wildcats had nine shots while Western Michigan had 13. In the final period the Wildcats had five shots in comparison to 12 by the Broncos.