By Susannah Nichols/ Northern Michigan Beat Writer
Northern Michigan (14-15-5,11-12-5-3 CCHA) capped off the regular season with a sweep over Upper Peninsula rival Lake Superior State as the Wildcats turned in a 7-3 victory on Friday and a 4-3 win on Saturday.
Mark Olver (pictured) got the scoring started in Friday's game. After helping kill a Lakers' power play, he took a pass from Blake Cosgrove and netted his 11th of the season. Phil Fox put the 'Cats up 2-0 with some help from Tyler Gron and Andrew Cherniwchan.
LSSU's Carter Lee scored to make the score 2-1, but Olver took advantage of a Northern power play to score again. Gregor Hanson, Justin Florek and Erik Gustafsson scored a series of unanswered goals, effectively managing a second period laden with penalties.
Lake State appeared to shift the momentum, scoring two goals to open the third period from captain Troy Schwab and Josh Sim, but Billy Smith stopped their potential comeback in its tracks. His goal at 4:01 of the third sealed the score at 7-3.
CCHA Goalie of the Week Brian Stewart had another solid performance in net as he made 25 saves in Friday's game. Gustafsson and Nick Sirota were each credited with two assists in the evening's scoring.
Pat Inglis and Brian Mahoney-Wilson combined for 20 saves in the loss.
Andrew Fernandez assisted on Smith's goal on Friday and he kept his offensive energy up on Saturday. He scored the first goal of the night at 15:03 of the first (assists by Olver and Sirota). Gron lit the lamp on a power-play goal thanks to a set-up by Gustafsson and Tim Hartung, and then Olver scored his third goal of the weekend to give the Wildcats a 3-0 lead.
The Lakers closed the second period with a power play goal from Zac MacVoy, but the 'Cats widened their lead to 4-1 when Hanson set up Jared Brown for Brown's 10th goal of the season. The Lakers pressured the 'Cats and managed two more goals from Will Acton and MacVoy before the final horn (including a last-minute tally that resulted from an extra man), but Derek Janzen held on for the win with 21 saves.
Saturday's game was also heavy on penalties--Northern had nine, Lake State seven--but each team only managed one power-play goal.
Mahoney-Wilson finished with 19 saves for LSSU (10-18-8, 7-15-6-1 CCHA).
With these wins, the Wildcats end the season ranked No. 6 in the CCHA. Their first playoff test will come at home when they take on Michigan State next weekend in a best-of-three showdown.
LSSU plays at Western Michigan this weekend in the first round.