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Friday, March 20, 2009

Live Blog: Northern Michigan/Notre Dame

Karl Henkel/At the CCHA Championship

DETROIT -- Follow all the action of the first CCHA Championship semifinal between Northern Michigan and Notre Dame.

Five minutes prior to puck-drop: Both teams have taken the ice and the crowd continues to file into Joe Louis Arena. NMU and ND met in last season's CCHA Championship, with the Wildcats winning the consolation game, 2-1.

First Period
NMU's Mark Olver gets called for an early holding penalty, putting the Irish on the man advantage just 30 seconds into the contest.

17:30: Though Notre Dame controlled the puck for most of the power play, it didn't get any real quality scoring chances. Olver raced out of the box on a 2-on-1, but whiffed on the high pass and took out ND goalie Jordan Pearce and immediately returned to the penalty box.

15:45: The Irish capitalize on their second power play when Kyle Lawson beats NMU goalie Brian Stewart.

14:58: The Irish get a third power play opportunity when Mike Maltese gets hit with a minor penalty. If Northern Michigan remains undisciplined, this one could be over in a hurry.

12:30: ND leads in the shots-on-goal department 9-1, with the lone NMU shot coming from 100 feet away.

10:46: The NMU faithful finally have something to cheer about - ND's Ben Ryan is called for tripping.

8:30: Much like Notre Dame's first power play, the NMU unit is able to keep possession deep in Irish territory, but don't get any clean, solid scoring opportunities.

7:25: It's the second straight power play for NMU, who is looking to make up for its flat-footed play in the opening 10 minutes.

5:25: Olver nearly beats Pearce with a shot from close proximity, however, the ND goalie shuts the door. For the second consecutive power play, NMU garnered only one shot on net.

Second period
It's a much different NMU team to start the second, with play beginning deep in the ND zone.

18:30: Teddy Ruth takes a seat in the sin bin for Notre Dame and NMU gets its fourth power play opportunity.

17:00: Undoubtedly the Wildcats best scoring chance(s) of the game, Pearce loses his stick and is sprawled out in the crease, but NMU cannot capitalize.

14:00: Notre Dame is doing a terrific job cycling the puck down low, but Northern Michigan keeps the Irish to the outside before icing the puck to stop play.

12:45: NMU's Nick Sirota fires a slapshot from the top of the left circle that Pearce gloves easily.

11:00: Jeff Jackson has to be worried that his team only has a one-goal lead. NMU is getting more and more chances, and despite ND's stranglehold in the shots on goal stat, Northern Michigan is hanging around.

8:34: Tim Hartung is ruled offsides despite appearing to keep his skate on the blue line, halting a possible NMU scoring chance.

7:00: There has been only six shots up to this point - four by NMU and two from ND - a clear indication that play has equalized since the first period.

6:22: NMU's Ray Kaunisto is penalized, drawing some not-so-appropriate chants from the Northern Michigan fans.

5:00: Stewart is holding ground for the Wildcats, who are looking to come out of another penalty-killing situation unscathed.

4:15: The Wildcats kill off another penalty, but Notre Dame is keeping the pressure on. The longer NMU hangs around, the more top-ranked Notre Dame should worry.

3:16: Stewart makes a spectacular save on Ruth, who cut in between the circles and tried to go five-hole, but to no avail.

1:41: Stewart makes an improbable toe stop on Kyle Murphy, arguably one of Notre Dame's best scoring chances of the night.

Third period
: Notre Dame starts the final period with a couple of chances. One goal here for the Irish could seal a victory.

15:55: Andrew Cherniwchan gets stoned by Pearce right in front of the crease.

13:00: Play is opening up as time wears on. Expect a flurry of offense in the final 13 minutes.

11:34: Stewart records his 25th save of the game and up to this point has been Northern Michigan's best player.

9:50: Stewart stops Christiaan Minella on back-to-back shots, the first from the left circle and the second from close range.

9:07: Northern Michigan gets called for a questionable penalty (Sirota, interference). Notre Dame can put this one in the books with a goal.

7:00: NMU is still alive after killing the penalty, setting up a should-be exciting final seven minutes. It will be interesting to see how soon - and if at all - Walt Kyle pulls Stewart.

5:29: Pearce stops a couple of tight-range whacks, preserving the shutout and the 1-0 lead for Notre Dame.

3:40: Northern Michigan is now having trouble getting into the Irish zone, a credit to the Notre Dame defense which has held the Wildcats in check all game.

2:02: As the game winds down and with a faceoff to the right of Stewart, the next rush for the Wildcats should be enough to vacate their net for an extra skater.

1:28: Faceoff to the right of Pearce. Stewart has not been pulled yet.

1:28 ... again: Kyle calls time out for NMU. Stewart is on the bench.

1:23: Northern Michigan finally beats Pearce, knotting the score at one apiece. Olver gets credit for it, and this one could be headed to overtime.

1:00: Ryan scores for Notre Dame as the Irish regain a one-goal lead.

Time expires: Pearce gloves one last puck and Notre Dame advances to tomorrow's CCHA Championship.

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