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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Northern Michigan splits with Buckeyes

By Susannah Nichols/ Northern Michigan Beat Writer

The Northern Michigan Wildcats (2-5-1, 1-3-0-0 CCHA) blanked the Ohio State Buckeyes (3-6-1, 2-3-1-1 CCHA) on Friday night in a 1-0 decision, but then lost in a 5-4 contest on Saturday evening.

Mark Olver scored both nights for the Wildcats and goalie Reid Ellingson had a total of 56 saves for the weekend.

Although Olver scored just 22 seconds into Friday's game off a pass by Phil Fox, Ellingson earned his first-star ranking by ensuring that the Wildcats' lead stood for the rest of the night.

The 'Cats and the Buckeyes played neck-and-neck for most of the evening. The Northern players demonstrated their tenacity by winning faceoffs, 37-25, and they outshot the home team, but not by much - 13 shots apiece in the first period, OSU edging Northern, 12-11, in the second, and Northern outshooting OSU, 12-7, in the third.

Northern tried to replicate their performance on Saturday. They struck first again, this time thanks to Tyler Gron, who capitalized on a pass from Andrew Cherniwchan for his first goal of the season. Scott Macaulay was also credited with an assist on Gron's goal.

The 'Cats went up 2-0 late in the first, when Justin Florek and Erik Gustafsson combined to set up Olver for his second goal of the weekend.

The Buckeyes came out swinging in the second period, and despite being outshot, 7-5, managed to tie up the game going into the third period.

A Northern power play early in the third gave Billy Smith the advantage he needed to put the 'Cats back on top. Special teams worked in Northern's favor later in the period, when Cherniwchan netted his first of the season (with some help from Gron and Fox) to give Northern a 4-3 lead.

The Buckeyes tied the game at 11:31, and a late period goal by Sergio Somma sealed the victory for Ohio State.

Ellingson had 24 saves in Saturday's game.

Northern stays on the road next weekend as they face Notre Dame in South Bend on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. and on Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

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