Wildcats Take Game One in CCHA First Round
MARQUETTE, Mich. – The No. 17-ranked Northern Michigan hockey team scored two goals in the third period to break a 2-2 tie and take game one of the best-of-three series with the Bowling Green Falcons on Friday (March 2) night from the Berry Events Center.
With the 4-2 win, NMU, the No. 6 seed in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Tournament, is now 17-12-6 on the season. The No. 11 seed Bowling Green is 10-22-5 overall, with the loss.
“I thought Bowling Green played really well,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “I thought we looked nervous. I wasn’t happy with our efforts early. I thought we were sloppy throughout the whole game, but we had some big guys score when we needed to.”
Senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan scored a power-play goal after a shot from the blueline from freshman defenseman Mitch Jones to give NMU the 3-2 lead 1:27 into the third period. Sophomore forward Stephan Vigier picked up the secondary assist on Cherniwchan’s 10th of the season.
The ‘Cats took a two-goal lead when senior forward Tyler Gron scored his 17th of the season 11:41 into the third when he picked up the puck as he stepped out of the penalty box. Sophomore defenseman CJ Ludwig picked up the assist.
“We’re confident, but they are confident too,” said NMU senior Justin Florek. “It’s just a matter of will going into this next game. It’s going to be a battle. It’s not going to be easy. We know that, they know that and it’s going to be a great game.”
The two teams traded goals in the first and second period.
The Falcons opened the game’s scoring 53 seconds after the puck dropped when Dan DeSalvo shot home a rebound off a Connor Kucera shot. Adam Berkle picked up his first assist of the night on the goal.
Florek tied the game at 11:58 of the first with his 18th of the season. Junior forward Matt Thurber found Florek streaking to the net and Florek shot a backhander past BGSU goaltender Andrew Hammond. Junior defenseman Kyle Follmer also assisted on the tally.
Sophomore forward Ryan Daugherty scored his third of the season when he tipped in a shot by freshman defenseman Jake Baker at 4:58 of the second period. Jones recorded his first of two assists on the goal.
Berkle found himself alone in front of NMU sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau and scored his sixth of the season to tie the game at two at 13:32 of the second. Ryan Carpenter and Jake Sloat assisted on the goal.
Coreau ended the game with 31 saves, moving his record to 12-6-2 overall and 7-1-1 at home. Hammond (10-21-5) had 22 saves for the Falcons.
BGSU was 0-for-3 on the power-play and NMU was 1-for-2. The Wildcats have killed of 13-of-13 penalties against the Falcons this season.
The two teams meet on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. for the second game of the series.
Game Notes: NMU won 6-3 in last season’s first round game against BGSU from the Berry Events Center…Florek has 53 career goals…Gron has 48 career goals…Cherniwchan has 35 career goals…Attendance was 1,664.
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