MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan hockey team hosted Alaska in its first game of 2012 from the Berry Events Center on Friday (Jan. 6) night. The Wildcats held a two-goal lead heading into the third period but the Nanooks battled back to tie the game before the end of regulation in the first of the two-game series.
With the 2-2 tie, the Wildcats remain unbeaten in 11-of-12 games at home and are 9-7-4 overall and 5-6-4-2 in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
Alaska (7-9-3, 4-8-3-1 CCHA) won the shootout 1-0 in three rounds at the end of overtime. Nik Yaremchuk was the lone player to score in the shootout.
NMU’s senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan had a great chance for a game-winner with 35 seconds left in regulation when he found himself in front of an open net but he wasn’t able to control the puck.
Senior forward Justin Florek opened the scoring with a power-play goal from sophomore forward Stephan Vigier and junior forward Kyle Follmer at 15:00 of the second period. It was Florek’s 10th of the season and seventh on the man advantage, tying him for third in the nation.
Redshirt freshman Reed Seckel added to the lead when he caught senior forward Tyler Gron’s pass as he was streaking to the net for his fifth of the season at 18:30 of the second.
Alaska came back in the third with two goals. Cody Kunyk scored an even strength goal at 7:41 in the third. Andy Taranto and Aaron Gens picked up assists.
Colton Beck scored his team-leading ninth of the season at 10:54 to even the score on the power-play. Taranto picked up his second assist and Scott Enders picked up the secondary helper.
Senior goaltender Reid Ellingson got the start in net, stopping 30 Nanook shots. He is now 4-5-3 on the season. Scott Greenham (6-8-3) had 21 saves for Alaska.
Freshman defenseman Mitch Jones, Gron and Seckel all missed their shootout chances for the 'Cats. Taranta and Carlo Finucci missed for Alaska.
Northern took five penalties for 10 minutes. The Nanooks were 1-for-5 on the man advantage. Alaska took two penalties and the ‘Cats were 1-for-2 on the power-play.
The two teams meet for the series finale at 7:35 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 7) night.
Game Notes: NMU and Alaska have tied in six of the last 11 meetings…The lat time Florek scored was Dec. 3…The last time Vigier had an assist was Nov. 18…Florek leads the team with 10 goals and now has 45 for his career…Seckel has five career goals.
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