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Sunday, January 31, 2010

NMU gets best of Nanooks at home

By Susannah Nichols/ Northern Michigan Beat Writer

For the third time this season, Northern Michigan skated to a tie with Alaska, but for the first time, the Wildcats wound up on the winning side of the shootout.

After the 2-2 tie on Friday, the 'Cats posted 3-2 win over the Nanooks on Saturday. Andrew Cherniwchan continued his scoring streak with goals on both nights.

Cherniwchan started the scoring on Friday night with a power-play goal. Mark Olver and Erik Gustafsson were credited with assists. In the second period, TJ Miller netted his fourth of the season, with some help from Gregor Hanson and Jared Brown, to give the 'Cats a 2-0 lead.

Alaska retaliated less than a minute after Miller's goal and added another midway through the third period.

In overtime, the 'Cats couldn't manage a shot, but Brian Stewart turned away the Nanooks' three tries to send the game to a shootout, where Olver and Hanson both converted on their attempts.

Stewart finished with 24 saves.

On Saturday, the 'Cats again scored all their goals before the Nanooks got started. Hanson, Cherniwchan, and Olver each scored before the 10-minute mark of the first period. Cherniwchan also picked up an assist on Olver's goal, and Kory Kaunisto notched his first collegiate point with an assist on Cherniwchan's goal.

The Nanooks outshot the Wildcats, 21-15, over the next two periods, but managed to cut the lead to only 3-1 before the last minute of play. With the goalie on the bench, the Nanooks scored an empty-netter, but it was too little, too late.

Stewart finished with 27 saves for the win.

The Wildcats' record now stands at 11-10-7, 7-8-5-2 in CCHA play. Their next challenge comes against Ferris State as the 'Cats face the Bulldogs, currently ranked No. 3 in the conference, in Big Rapids February 5-6. The puck drops at 7:00 p.m. on Friday and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday.

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