Sophomore forward Darren Nowick picked up his first career hat trick as the Northern Michigan University hockey team stamped its ticket to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs with a 5-2 win over Alabama-Huntsville Saturday.
With the win NMU will be either the six or seven seed in the upcoming WCHA playoffs and improved to 15-19-2 overall and 13-14-1 in the WCHA. Alabama-Huntsville ends it season with a record of 2-35-1 with a 2-24-1 WCHA record.
Senior defenseman Wade Epp scored his first of two goals on the night for the Wildcats at the 3:24 mark of the first on assists from senior forward Stephan Vigier and junior defenseman Luke Eibler. It was the second goal of the season for Epp.
Nowick then scored his first goal of the night at the 5:53 mark of the first on assists from freshman forwards Gerard Hanson and John Siemer. Nowick's second goal of the night came at the 8:59 mark of the first, unassisted to give the Wildcats a 3-0 advantage. It was the fourth and fifth goals of the season for Nowick.
Jack Prince scored two goals for the Chargers in the second period to cut the Wildcats lead to 3-2. Prince's first goal came at the 2:30 mark of the second on assists from Ben Reinhardt and Cody Marooney. Prince scored his second goal at the 6:54 mark from Steven Koshey and Regan Soquila.
Nowick completed his hat trick on an unassisted goal at the 13:54 mark of the third period. It was the sixth goal of the season for Nowick.
Epp scored an empty net goal with just 39-seconds left on the clock to set the final tally at 5-2 and recording his third goal of the season for the Wildcats.
NMU outshot the Chargers 30-29 in the contest including a 13-6 advantage in the opening frame.
Freshman goalie Mathias Dahlstrom (14-17-2) picked up his 14 th win of the season making 27 saves in net for the Wildcats.
NMU will await the result of the Alaska versus Alaska-Anchorage contest for its playoff seed and opening round opponent.