New year? Yes. Old results? No.
Led by Mark Olver's two goals and one assist, Northern Michigan, despite missing its three captains and starting goaltender, to a 3-2 upset over No.14 Wisconsin Friday night.
"I am not really sure what happened," senior Tom Gorowsky said. "As a group of individuals, people weren't ready to play. We didn't compete at times and it showed with mental lapses early in the second period. The effort was there at times and other times it wasn't. We didn't play a full game."
After Gorowsky scored in the waning minutes of the first period to give UW its first and only lead, the Wildcats (4-13-3) took all the momentum out of the home crowd at the beginning of the second period, scoring two goals in the first one minute, 13 seconds, highlighted by Olver's goal to take the lead.
After NMU scored just its 10th power play goal of the season to tie the score 38 seconds into the period, Olver charged up the right side and got a lucky bounce by throwing the puck on net, seeing the puck deflect off a Wisconsin defender's skate and past senior goalie Shane Connelly (16 saves) for his fifth goal of the year.
"We talked all week about going hard to the net and throwing pucks on net," Olver said of his first 5-on-5 goal of the year. "If you throw pucks on net, good things can happen for your team."
Wisconsin (10-8-3) did respond, however, on a spectacular short-handed goal by freshman Derek Stepan, the only bright spot of the game. Seizing a turnover in the neutral zone, Stepan put a between-the-legs move on defenseman Ben Lindemulder and backhanded the puck into the back of the net at 13:41 in the second period.
"I thought that might be a spark for us,'' UW head coach Mike Eaves said.
On the contrary, it was Olver that made sure to douse UW's spark before it could ignite. By simply throwing the puck on net, Olver's shot sneaked through Connelly's five hole, giving him the game winner one minute, 43 seconds into the third period.
The three goals marked just the fifth game all season Northern Michigan had reached that number, as the Wildcats ranked 56th out of 58 NCAA Division I schools in scoring with 1.67 goals per game.
"He's had a little bit of bad luck," NMU coach Walt Kyle said of Olver. "I thought he was outstanding for us tonight."
After being academically ineligible the first half of the season, junior goalie Derek Janzen was solid in his first start of the season, stopping 33 shots, including 17 in a rampant third period, to make sure Northern Michigan's one-goal lead stand up.
"I can't remember our last win on the road, especially against someone as good as Wisconsin," Olver said of NMU's first road win since March 22, 2008. "Wisconsin is the best team we have played all year and we came out strong and things started to click for us. We knew we had a big opportunity to come here and make a statement."