EAST LANSING, Mich. - Two goals were scored within 36 seconds of each other in the first game of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Playoffs series between the Northern Michigan Wildcats and the Spartans of Michigan State. The goals were split for each side for the early 1-1 score. MSU added a goal in the second and three in the third period for the 5-1 win to take the first game of the series. This is the first time NMU and MSU are meeting in a best-of-three playoff series.
With the loss NMU falls to 17-19-4 on the season while MSU improves to 24-9-5. “We had to take penalties tonight and they had the puck the whole time,” said Walt Kyle. “They did a great job and out-played us completely.”
The first period saw the first two goals of the game scored off the same penalty. NMU’s Derek May was whistled for interference at 4:12. Mark Olver scoring his first short-handed goal of his career gave the ‘Cats the 1-0 lead at 4:32. For Olver it was 19th goal of the season as Nick Sirota picked up the helper. Olver and Sirota are the top two scorers on the team. A little more than 30 seconds later the Spartans tied the score on a goal by Bryan Lerg at 5:08.
After 40 minutes of play MSU held a 2-1 lead thanks to a power-play goal by Justin Abdelkader at 16:29 of the middle frame. NMU only managed five shots on goal during the period.
MSU put the game away in the third frame. Nick Sucharski made the count 3-1 with a marker at 5:42. The Spartans made the score 4-1 with a power-play goal by Tim Crowder at 11:04. MSU’s final goal of the period was scored at 13:44 by Tim Kennedy.
MSU had an 18 shot advantage over the ‘Cats at 43-25. The Spartans scored half of their goals on the power play as they were 3-7 with the extra skater. NMU was shutout in six power-play opportunities. NMU had one more penalty (7-14) than the Spartans (6-12).
Brian Stewart began the game in goal for the ‘Cats and lasted for almost 54 minutes and had 35 saves. “They were making plays out of the corners,” said Stewart. “They were generating good plays.” Derek Janzen saw some time between the pipes for a little over six minutes of action with three saves. Jeff Lerg for MSU picked up the win with 24 saves.
The two teams will face-off again tomorrow night (March 15) at 7:05 p.m. in the second game of the best-of-three series. NMU needs a win to stay alive a loss would end the season for the ‘Cats.
Notes – Nick Sirota was selected to the 2007-08 CCHA All-Conference Team as an honorable mention selection….Teammate Brian Stewart received votes to the team…Former NMU skater and current Detroit Red Wing, Dallas Drake, was in attendance at Munn…Olver has at least one point in each playoff game.
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Sports Information Director