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Friday, March 19, 2010

NMU tops Ferris State in OT, 5-4

Karl Henkel/At the CCHA Tournament

Detroit -- Every once in a while, a team is reminded that to win a hockey game, it takes a complete 60 minutes. Both got such a dose of medicine Friday afternoon, but Northern Michigan prevailed as it knocked off the Bulldogs, 5-4 in overtime, in a CCHA Tournament semifinal at Joe Louis Arena.

Greger Hanson's goal 1:07 into overtime finally gave the Wildcats the win after surrendering a pair of two-goal leads. It also marks the first time in three years NMU advances to the championship game.

"I thought it was a great effort," NMU coach Walt Kyle said. "It was a very close game against a very good Ferris team tonight."

First, it was Ferris State, which saw its 1-0 lead quickly diminish and turn into a two-goal deficit. In a span of 1:02 during the second period, Northern Michigan found the back of the net three times and never relinquished the lead.

"We just got a little momentum," NMU forward Ray Kaunisto said. "That's what happens in big games. You get that first goal and the momentum swings your way."

The goal spurt, which started and ended with goals from Ray Kaunisto that sandwiched an Andrew Cherniwchan goal, broke the record for the fastest three consecutive goals. The previous record, held by Michigan State back in 2003, was 2:27.

After Ferris State called time out, the Bulldogs seemed to regain their swagger and late in the second period, struck once to narrow the deficit to 3-2.

Ferris State outshot Northern Michigan, 11-8 in the third period and eventually tied the score with a two-goal spurt of its own.
First it was Mike Embach, who lifted a wrist shot over Stewart from between the top of the circles. Then it was a cross-ice pass from Zach Redmond to Matthew Kirzinger, who beat a scrambling Brian Stewart to tie the game at four. The two goals came in a 1:01 span.

It somewhat ruined a rather impressive performance from Stewart, who had 35 saves.

"I didn't think he struggled at all," Kyle said. "I think it was the third goal ... it was a knuckle puck and those are so hard for goaltenders to get."

Embach later scored to close the gap to 4-3, but that is the last time Ferris State hit the back of the net.

Ferris State’s Pat Nagle made 25 saves.

"I'm disappointed with the fact we got beat," Ferris State coach Bob Daniels said. "But I was very happy with the effort from all of the guys."

Northern Michigan, who played in the third-place game the last two seasons, will meet the winner of the Michigan/Miami semifinal Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Ferris State meets the loser in the third-place game beginning at 3:35 p.m.

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