College Hockey Scoreboard from CHN

Monday, March 09, 2009

Northern handles State in two games

By Susannah Nichols/Northern Michigan Beat Writer

The Northern Michigan Wildcats (16-15-5) continued their hot streak with a commanding sweep of Michigan State in the first round of the CCHA Playoffs this past weekend.

The 'Cats turned in a 5-3 win on Friday and a 8-2 victory on Saturday and also brought their record above .500, a clear indication of how far this team has come since the midpoint of the season.

Although Michigan State struck first in Friday's game, thanks to a Brett Perlini power-play goal, Northern retaliated with four straight goals, including a shorthanded tally by Billy Smith.

The Spartans roared back in the third period, cutting the NMU lead on a Kurt Kivisto goal. Jared Brown and Justin Florek responded by setting up Erik Gustafsson to widen Northern's lead. State snuck in a last minute goal, but Northern held on for the 5-3 win.

Jeff Lerg finished with 24 saves; Brian Stewart made 18 saves for the win.

State kept things close for the first period of Saturday's game. Gregor Hanson and Nick Sirota scored to get Northern on the board first, but Dustin Gazley came back only a minute after Sirota's goal to cut the 'Cats' lead to one.

But from the second period on, Northern was unstoppable - six straight goals courtesy of Ben Lindemulder (his second of the weekend), Ray Kaunisto, Mark Olver (also his second of the weekend), Brown, Phil Fox, and Sirota again, shorthanded. Derek May added two assists.

MSU made a concerted effort in the third, though. The Spartans outshot the Wildcats, 11-7, and Gazley fired in a second goal for the Spartans late in the game, but Northern had run away with the series.

Lerg finished with 21 saves and Stewart with 20. Lerg also completed his collegiate career with 3,996 saves, second most in NCAA history.

The next test for the 'Cats will be next weekend, on the road, against the Miami RedHawks. The two teams skated to a win and a tie in their last series.

MSU finishes 10-23-5.

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