MARQUETTE - In hockey, the power play is for scoring goals, not surrendering scores, unless of course you are the Northern Michigan University hockey team.
The Wildcats surrendered their 10th, 11th and 12th shorthanded goals this season to Lake Superior State in a 3-0 loss on Saturday night at the Berry Events Center - the last Central Collegiate Hockey Association game to ever be played in Marquette.
"World record, whatever it its," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said about his team's NCAA-leading 12 shorthanded goals allowed. "It's a world record.
"We have some guys that need to understand they need to do a better job there. It's not anything tactically. It's execution and people understanding they have a responsibility."
The Senior Night loss cost Northern (15-17-4 overall, 9-15-4) in CCHA) a chance to host a CCHA first-round playoff series in Marquette. Instead the 10th-place 'Cats will travel to Ann Arbor to face No. 7 Michigan in a best-of-three series March 8-10.
NMU took four of six points against Michigan in Marquette on Nov. 2-3 in a 4-4 shootout loss and 4-3 shootout win.
Northern Michigan University junior defenseman CJ Ludwig brings the puck up the ice on Saturday against Lake Superior State at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Zach Jay)
No. 8 LSSU (16-19-1, 11-16-1) clinched a home-ice series against No. 9 Bowling Green State, which fell from No. 7 after being swept by Notre Dame.
"(Michigan) is a great team," NMU senior forward Brian Nugent said about the Wildcats' first-round opponent. "They have a lot of weapons. We know they can play a really skilled game. Obviously they will be in their building and they'll have a lot of energy. I'm sure they will be excited to see us next weekend."
The Lakers went up 1-0 when a shorthanded blast from just below the blue line by sophomore forward Stephen Perfetto went through the five hole of NMU junior goaltender Jared Coreau 2:37 into the second period.
LSSU got its second shorty of the night 16:18 into the third period when Coreau mishandled a cleared puck behind his own net. Lakers junior forward Kellan Lain was able to scoop up the misplayed puck and wrap it around into the Northern net for a late 2-0 lead.
With Coreau on the bench for a 6-on-4 NMU advantage, LSSU senior forward Domenic Monardo iced the game with a shorthanded empty netter with 42 seconds to play in regulation.
"It's really frustrating. To give up 12 shorties in one year is embarrassing," NMU senior forward Matt Thurber said. "It's not what we want. When our power play isn't scoring like it did tonight, it's tough to win.
"We lost the special teams battle tonight just like we did at Lake State in December and that's the game changer right there."
NMU finished 0-for-9 on the power play having failed to score on a 32 second 5-on-3 advantage and during a three-minute power play, both in the second period.
The Wildcats put a pair of point-blank shots - one by freshman forward Cohen Adair and another by junior forward Stephan Vigier - on LSSU junior goaltender Kevin Murdock during the three-minute advantage, which resulted from a two-minute minor on NMU senior defenseman Kyle Follmer for hitting after the whistle and a five-minute major to Perfetto for grabbing Follmer's facemask.
"Anytime when you get an odd-man, you want to go out there and if not score, create momentum for after the power play," Follmer said. "To go out there, and the situations we were in, to give up three shorthanded goals at crucial times was definitely deflating to the hockey team"
Murdock, who also denied NMU sophomore forward Reed Seckel on a pair of shorthanded breakaways, finished with 35 saves for the shutout after junior Kevin Kapalka made 36 saves the night before in the LSSU net.
Coreau stopped 32 of 34 shots face Saturday after making 50 saves in Friday's 3-1 win.
While Coreau was on the bench for the third shorthanded, Kyle said the first two shorties were goals Coreau would like to have back.
"I thought the first one was a bad goal," Kyle said. "I think Jared will tell you that. A slap shot from the point is one he has to get. The second one was a bad goal when Jared tried to go below the goal line."
Notes: All four of LSSU's goals this weekend came shorthanded. ... Miami becomes the final CCHA regular season champion after defeating Ohio State, 4-2 on Saturday. ... The RedHawks, Western Michigan and Notre Dame finished first through third, respectively, and will receive first-round byes. Fourth-place Ohio State will host Ferris State in the second round. ... In the other first-round series, No. 6 Alaska hosts last-place Michigan State.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens