EAST LANSING, Mich. – The No. 20-ranked Northern Michigan University hockey team started its five-game January road trip with a 5-5 tie against No. 18 Michigan State at Munn Ice Arena on Friday (Jan. 13) night. The Spartans picked up the extra Central Collegiate Hockey Association point with a 1-0 win in the three round shootout at the end of overtime.
Senior forward Tyler Gron scored with 26 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at five and sent it to the overtime. The Wildcats emptied the net and added the extra attacker before Gron’s third point of the game. Assisting on the game-tying goal were redshirt freshman Reed Seckel and junior defenseman Kyle Follmer.
“We’ve been a resilient team all season,” NMU coach Walt Kyle said. “We have really good leadership and character on our team and we don’t get rattled in tough situations.”
With the tie, the Wildcats are now 10-7-5 overall and 6-6-5-2 in the CCHA. MSU moves to 11-9-3 overall and 6-7-2-2 in the conference.
Northern jumped out to a two-goal lead in the first period after goals by junior forward Brian Nugent and senior forward Justin Florek. The Spartans answered with four straight goals in the first before junior forward Matt Thurber closed the gap to one (4-3) with 35 seconds left in the period.
Nugent scored his second of the season 1:32 into the first with redshirt freshman forward Ryan Kesti assisting and picking up his second career point.
Florek recorded his 100th career point when he tipped in a shot by junior defenseman Scott Macaulay at 10:25 of the first. It was Florek’s 11th goal of the season and Macaulay’s eighth assist.
All four first period Spartan goals were even strength tallies. Chris Forfar scored first at 13:42. Mike Merrifield tied it at two at 13:42 and 32 seconds later MSU took the 3-2 lead on a goal by Anthony Hayes. Kevin Walrod scored the final MSU first period goal at 18:48.
Thurber’s goal was his sixth of the season. Gron and Seckel picked up the assists.
In the second, the Spartans again took a two-goal lead (5-3) after a goal by Tim Buttery and again the ‘Cats answered late in the period to close the gap to within one. Macaulay’s shot from the blue line found its way to the back of the net with 13 seconds left to make it 5-4 heading into the third period. Assists on Macaulay’s second goal of the season went to Follmer and Gron.
Gron’s third period goal was his 10th of the season. He now has eight goals in nine career games against State.
Matt Berry was the only player to score in the shootout. Dean Chelios and Brett Perlini missed their shootout opportunities for MSU.
Senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan, Gron and Seckel all missed their shootout chances for the ‘Cats
Senior goaltender Reid Ellingson made the start for Northern and was pulled in the second period after MSU's fith goal. Ellingson made 11 saves. Sophomore Jared Coreau had 19 saves in the second, third and overtime and is now 6-2-2 on the season.
Drew Palmisano had 28 saves for the Spartans.
Both teams took five penalties for 10 minutes and both were 0-for-3 on the power-play.
The two teams will meet at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday (Jan. 14) night for the CCHA series finale. Fans can tune into the game live on Fox Sport Detroit.
Game Notes: It was NMU’s seventh overtime game this season…NMU is 1-1-5-2 in the extra session…Florek has 46 goals and 54 assists in 142 career games…Nugent’s other goal this season was the game-winner against MSU on Nov. 19…Macualay has three goals and 28 assists in 89 career games.
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