MARQUETTE, Mich. - Justin Florek’s unassisted, empty-net goal at 18:01 of the third period sealed the deal for the Northern Michigan University hockey Wildcats in their 6-3 Central Collegiate Hockey Association Playoff victory over the Bowling Green Falcons on Friday, March 4. The Wildcats (15-17-5) and Falcons (8-25-4) will play again on Saturday, March 5, at 7:35 p.m. at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Mich., in the second game of their best-of-three series in the first round of the CCHA Playoffs.
Although the Wildcats came out strong and recorded 21 shots on goal in the first period, Bowling Green was able to get on the scoreboard first as Michael Fink scored a power play goal at 7:03. The Wildcats responded with two power play goals of their own as Tyler Gron scored on the five-on-three at 15:45 and Stephan Vigier scored on the ensuing five-on-four at 16:27. Andrew Cherniwchan and Greger Hanson assisted on Gron’s goal while Erik Higby and Jared Brown assisted on Vigier’s. The Wildcats took their two-to-one lead into the first intermission.
The second period was action packed as five different players scored goals. Erik Higby increased the Wildcats lead to two as he tipped in Wade Epp’s shot from the point at 5:12. Justin Florek was credited with the second assist. Brian Nugent scored what would go on to be the game winning goal just 49 seconds later with assists going to Mike Maltese and Andrew Fernandez. Cameron Sinclair responded to keep the Falcons in the game with an unassisted goal at 6:32. Vigier scored his second goal of the night, assisted by Brown and Cherniwchan at 8:38 and Falcon Bryce Williamson closed out the period with a power play goal from Fink and Jord Samuels-Thomas at 9:04.
The Wildcats ended the game with 42 shots on goal while the Falcons had 28. Both teams were two-for-six on the power play. The Wildcats had eight penalties for 16 minutes while Bowling Green had seven for fourteen. Reid Ellingson had all 25 Wildcat saves while Andrew Hammond had 21 saves and four goals-against for the Falcons before being relieved by Nick Eno who recorded 15 saves and one goal against.