MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University hockey team took care of the Michigan State University Spartans Saturday night at the Berry Events Center to take the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) first-round playoff series. NMU tallied two goals in the first period and then added three more in the second and third periods for the 8-2 win. The eight goals was a season high for the ‘Cats. NMU will now face the Miami RedHawks in the second round next weekend in Oxford, Ohio in another best-of-three series (March 13-14-15).
NMU moves to 16-15-5 overall on the season while the Spartans end the 2008-09 campaign with a 10-23-5 mark.
Once again the scoring was spread out as seven different ‘Cats found their names on the score sheet. Gregor Hanson started it off for the ‘Cats with his 12th goal of the season at 11:46 of the opening frame. Blake Cosgrove and Jared Brown assisted on the goal. Nick Sirota then scored the first of his two goals on the night at 17:03 for a 2-0 lead. Billy Smith picked up the assist on Sirota’s sixth goal of the season. MSU cut the lead in half when Dustin Gazley scored at 18:12.
NMU rattled off six goals in a row. Beginning with Ben Lindemulder’s goal at 6:54 of the second period the ‘Cats were now up 3-1. Sirota and Erik Gustafsson assisted on the goal. Ray Kaunisto then got into the act with his seventh marker of the season at 12:48 (4-1). Picking up the assists were Tim Hartung and Andrew Fernandez. A little less than four minutes later, Mark Olver made the count 5-1 with his 15th goal of the season at 16:27 for the final goal of the middle frame. Smith and Derek May assisted.
The third period opened up with the ‘Cats scoring back-to-back goals about 40 seconds apart. Jared Brown’s 11th goal of the season at 4:57 made the score 6-1 at 4:57. Justin Florek and Hanson assisted. Phil Fox then made it 7-1 at 5:38 with his 11th goal of the campaign. Lindemulder and Kaunisto assisted. For the second night in a row the ‘Cats scored a short-handed goal. Tonight it was Sirota’s turn with the shortie. He scored his seventh goal of the second and second of the night at 15:08 (8-1). Olver and May assisted. The Spartans scored a goal later in the period at 16:54 by Gazley for the final score of the game.
MSU was only called for one penalty on the night while the ‘Cats were called for five. NMU did not have any power plays on the night while the Spartans were 0-4. Brian Stewart was in front of the goal tonight for the ‘Cats as he had 20 saves. Jeff Lerg had 21 saves for the Spartans. NMU had a seven shot advantage over MSU (29-22).
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Sports Information Director