By Susannah Nichols/ Northern Michigan Beat Writer
The Northern Michigan Wildcats closed out 2010 with a 5-2 loss to the Denver Pioneers. But they are technically unbeaten in 2011, after pulling out a 2-2 tie the next night. Justin Florek had three points in the weekend series, and freshman netminder Jared Coreau stopped 44 pucks to secure Saturday's tie.
The first period of Friday's game was offensively quiet--both teams managed just four shots. The 'Cats then jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second period, with both goals coming on the power play. Florek struck first, with his seventh goal of the season. Scott Macaulay and Andrew Cherniwchan earned assists on the play. Macaulay and Florek joined forces again to set up Kyle Follmer for the 'Cats' second goal.
But the 'Cats couldn't claim power play dominance, since four of Denver's five unanswered goals came on Northern penalties.
The Pioneers outshot the 'Cats 28-17. Reid Ellingson had 23 saves for the loss.
Northern managed only 13 shots in Saturday's contest, and were outshot 12-7 in the opening stanza. But the 'Cats had the only shots that mattered: Follmer and Kory Kaunisto set up Tyler Gron for his 12th tally of the season.
Three minutes later, Erik Higby put the 'Cats up 2-0 with an assist from Florek.
Denver outshot Northern 33-5 over the next two periods, and special teams continued to work against the 'Cats: one of Denver's goals came shorthanded, the other on their own power play.
Neither team could light the lamp in overtime, resulting in the 2-2 stalemate.
The 'Cats, now 9-9-4 (7-5-2 CCHA), return to conference play next weekend, when they host Notre Dame.