By Susannah Nichols/ Northern Michigan Beat Writer
The Northern Michigan Wildcats were eliminated from the NCAA tournament in their first game, but they made it a night to remember.
NMU skated with the St. Cloud State Huskies into double overtime before losing, 4-3.
In the first period, St. Cloud State outshot Northern by a margin of 17-6 and took the early lead at 8:14. The Huskies went up 2-0 on a power-play goal four minutes later.
But the Wildcats--and their steadfast netminder Brian Stewart--are no strangers to taking on more shots than they take. Before the end of the period, Justin Florek capitalized on a Wildcat power play to cut the Huskies' lead to one. Erik Gustafsson and Jared Brown helped out with assists.
In the second period, Northern had the edge in shots, 13-6. St. Cloud widened their lead to 3-1 on their second power-play goal of the night, but Ray Kaunisto scored unassisted to bring the 'Cats within a goal.
With their season on the line, the 'Cats maintained their offensive energy in the third period, but it took until 16:11 for Erik Spady to light the lamp and tie the game. Florek and Mark Olver earned assists on the goal.
The teams stayed deadlocked through the first overtime. Stewart showed his mettle as the Huskies hammered him with 22 shots. The 'Cats, with 12 shots, didn't let up, either.
After 80 minutes of play, the second overtime was over after 23 seconds. The Huskies needed only one shot, a tip in front by Tony Mosey, to get past Stewart and end the Wildcats' playoff run.
Stewart, in his last collegiate game, finished with 50 saves.
Northern Michigan ends the season with a 20-13-8 record, 13-9-6-3 in CCHA play.