Courtesy of NMU Athletics
ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University hockey team scored two goals in the second period after trailing 3-0 but couldn’t complete the comeback in the first game of the best-of-three Central Collegiate Hockey Association First Round series at the University of Michigan on Friday (March 8) evening.
The 10th-seeded Wildcats got goals from senior forward Kory Kaunisto and freshman forward Darren Nowick. NMU falls to 15-18-4 overall and remains winless (0-9) against Michigan in the postseason.
“We were nervous in the first period and made some bonehead plays,” NMU coach Walt Kyle said. “Once we got the nerves out we played well. I thought we played really after the first period and controlled play at times. We’ll be fine if we play like that the rest of this series.”
Northern generated a lot of offensive pressure in the second period, outshooting the Wolverines 14-6 in the frame. Kaunisto buried his fifth goal of the season 4:57 into the period, tipping in a wrist shot off the stick of junior defenseman Wade Epp. Junior forward Jake Johnson also assisted on the tally.
Nowick scored on a rebound after a shot by junior forward Stephan Vigier with four minutes to go to bring the Green and Gold to one (3-2). Sophomore forward Ryan Daugherty also assisted on Nowick’s sixth of the season.
Seventh-seeded Michigan (14-18-3) dominated the first period, scoring three special teams goals. Jon Merril opened the game’s scoring with a blast from the blueline that bounced off an NMU defenseman in front of the net. It was a power play goal, after a too many men on the ice penalty, 6:39 into the game. Assists went to Cristoval Nieves and Phil Di Giuseppe.
Kevin Lynch then scored two goals in 3:19. He flipped a backhanded shot past junior goaltender Jared Coreau at 15:11 also on the power play. AJ Treais and Alex Guptill assisted on the goal.
Lynch then stole a puck, while shorthanded, and scored on a breakaway for the 3-0 lead with a minute and a half to go in the first.
The Wildcats outshot the Wolverines 28-25. Coreau finished with 22 saves. Steve Racine extended his unbeaten streak to five games with 26 saves for the home team.
NMU was 0-for-2 on the man advantage while UM was 2-for-3.
The two teams met again on Saturday (March 9) at Yost Ice Arena with the puck dropping at 7:35 p.m. If necessary, the series finale will be on Sunday (March 10) at 7:35 p.m.