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Michigan Tech takes CCHA lead, Northern Michigan takes advantage of Ferris State, Bemidji State losses

The MacNaughton Cup will be on the line Saturday when the Huskies play MSU-Mankato. With the Wildcats owning the tie-breaker, they simply need to win Saturday to clinch home ice for playoffs

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Bemidji State's Ross Armour gives a fist bump to goalie Mattias Sholl after scoring a goal during a game against St. Thomas Friday, Feb. 24, 2023, in Mendota Heights, Minn.
Shannon Stieg / Special to The Rink Live

CCHA teams at least decided one thing on Friday night — Saturday will be super interesting. In Mankato, Michigan Tech took control of the conference lead with a 2-0 win over Minnesota State. The Huskies (15-6-4 CCHA, 22-8-4 overall) have a one-point lead over the Mavericks (15-9-1, 20-12-1) going into Saturday's game at 6:07 p.m. at Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center in Mankato.

Ninety miles north, St. Thomas (10-13-2 CCHA, 11-20-2 overall) took down Bemidji State (11-11-3, 13-15-5), allowing Northern Michigan (13-12, 17-16) to gain a share of fourth place with the Beavers.

The win for the Wildcats pushes their point total to 36 and they are tied with the Beavers in fourth place in the standings after Bemidji State took a road loss to St. Thomas, 3-1. With Northern Michigan owning the tie-breaker, the Wildcats simply need to win Saturday night. The Wildcats have a 55% chance of earning that fourth-place spot while the Beavers dropped to 28%, according to playoffstatus.com .

Ferris State (9-13-3, 12-17-4), which picked up one point in an overtime loss and is in sixth place, has 34 points and needs a win and major help to get home ice. The Tommies are two points behind Ferris State. Despite a season-split with the Bulldogs, St. Thomas does not own the second tiebreaking scenario.

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Bowling Green (12-11-2, 15-16-2) meanwhile is playing for momentum but regardless of outcome, will finish in third place at 41 points and be among the top four teams to have home-ice advantage in the CCHA playoffs next week.


Here comes the 'Cats

Northern Michigan handled its end of the bargain, the game-winning goal at 8:10 of the third period from senior Tanner Vescio as the Wildcats beat Bowling Green 4-2 on Friday.

"For the most part we did a pretty good job," said Falcons head coach Ty Eigner. "A couple times we didn't manage the puck and turned it over."

Northern Michigan's Kristoff Papp scored an empty-net goal with 11 seconds remaining, his 11th tally of the season.

For Vescio, it was just his second goal of the season and fifth collegiate goal for the former Blaine (Minn.) High captain. Vescio's other goal this season came against Ferris State in a wild 9-2 win a week ago.

Lakers play spoilers again

Despite being cemented in the CCHA cellar, Lake Superior State (7-17-1, 8-23-2) continues to throw a wrench into the CCHA standings. Senior defenseman Jake Willets, who scored his third and fourth goals of the season, buried his own rebound on a breakaway as the Lakers beat Ferris State 3-2 in overtime.

Willets earlier tied the game just past the midway point of the third period.

The Bulldogs, who have lost four straight, need a regulation win and regulation losses by Northern Michigan and Bemidji State on Saturday to gain the fourth-place home ice position.


A helping hand

Northern Michigan goaltender Beni Halasz picked up a secondary assist when AJ Vanderbeck wired a shot past Christian Stoever for a first period power-play goal Friday night. Defenseman Simon Kjellberg, who scored two of his season’s three goals last weekend against Ferris State, hit Vanderbeck in stride on a stretch pass between defenders.

For Halasz, it was his second assist of the season, the other coming Jan. 7 against Minnesota State when he had another secondary assist on a power-play goal by Kristof Papp.

Power up

Lake Superior State's Harrison Roy notched his seventh power-play goal of the season in the first period against Ferris State. His 11th goal overall, Roy moved into a tie with Bowling Green’s Nathan Burke for the second-most power-play goals in the conference behind Minnesota State’s David Silye, who has 10. Roy scored on a one-timer off a pass from Louis Boudon.

Just Slick

Ferris State senior defenseman Matt Slick had three goals coming into Friday's contest against Lake Superior State. In a drought since his last goal Dec. 10 against Northern Michigan, Slick's tally midway through the third period gave the Bulldogs a 2-1 lead with the assist going to sophomore forward Nick Nardecchia, his seventh of the season, before the Lakers rallied.

Ferris State freshman Caiden Gault scored a power-play goal to tie the game at 1-1. His third of the year, his previous two goals came against Bowling Green on Nov. 19 and Feb. 4.

Rob Beer is the digital content manager for Forum Communications. A journalist with Forum Communications since 1991, he is the editor of The Rink Live and helps cover the CCHA. He also assists with other content produced by Forum Communications.
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