EAST LANSING, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University hockey team was skating for another day Saturday night at Munn Ice Arena on the campus of Michigan State University. A loss would send them packing for the season a win would give the Wildcats another game for the 2007-08 season. The ‘Cats struck first, but the home team answered with a power-play goal to tie it up in the second period. The third period saw the ‘Cats knock home the game-winner to pick up the 2-1 win to extend the season at least for another day. NMU and MSU have met six times this season and it is even at 3-3-0. Tomorrow is a game seven, winner take all for a trip to The Joe and the CCHA Championship Tournament.
NMU is now 18-19-4 on the season while MSU falls to 24-10-5. “We played better tonight and got a couple of breaks,” said Walt Kyle. “Live to fight one more day.”
After a scoreless first period of action Mark Olver kept up his stellar play in the playoffs with a goal at 3:56 of the second period to give NMU the 1-0 edge. He now has five goals in the playoffs and 20 for the season. Erik Gustafsson added to his team-high assists with the helper. He now has 27 assists on the season. It took the Spartans about 15 minutes to tie the score when Tim Crowder slapped home the pass on the power play for the tying goal at 18:53.
After two periods of play MSU held a six-shot edge at 23-17. NMU had six shots in the first period and 11 in the second. MSU countered with eight in the first and 15 in the second.
The ‘Cats took the 2-1 lead in the third period when Ray Kaunisto found the back of the net at 8:13 of the third period for the game-winner. “It was a lucky goal,” said Kaunisto. Matt Butcher and Derek May assisted. A turning point of the period was when the ‘Cats killed a three-on-five power play for the Spartans. NMU held on for the win to force a third and deciding game in the playoff series.
Brian Stewart came up big for the ‘Cats as he had 41 saves. “I thought some of the bounces went my way,” said Stewart. Jeff Lerg had 28 saves for the Spartans. For the second night in a row the Spartans had a big advantage with the shots at 42-30. MSU skated on nine power plays and had one goal. NMU was 0-5 on its power plays.
The ‘Cats and Spartans will meet tomorrow night (March 16) at 7:05 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena.
Notes –Mark Olver now has 37 points on the season (20-17-37) his brother, Darin, had 34 points in his freshman campaign (13-21-34)…The win tonight was the ‘Cats first taste of victory since a 6-5 overtime win on Jan. 3, 2004 at Munn Ice Arena…Olver has a least one goal in four of the five playoff games…Olver currently has a five-game point streak (5-2-7) and five of the 16 goals scored in the playoffs…Three of NMU’s past four playoffs series have gone to a third game.
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