@CORNELL 2, Northern Michigan 2 (OT) | @CORNELL 3, Northern Michigan 1
After analyzing this weekend, I felt Northern Michigan was one of the better teams we have faced this year. They played with speed, passion, and intensity, and they sustained it all weekend. It was a great test for our team.
On Friday night, the visitors got on the scoreboard first at 12:20 of the opening period, which hasn’t happened much this year. Down 1-0, it didn’t take us long to tie. With the teams skating 4-on-4, freshman defenseman Sebastian Dirven started the play from the left point and fed classmate Ben Berard in the high slot. Ben sent a pass back to Dirven cutting outside of the left circle. From a sharp angle, Dirven flew the puck toward the goal to a point where sophomore forward Michael Regush was posted up. His first shot was stopped but the rebound slipped past the goaltender and over the goal line.
Late in the second period (17:09), the Wildcats took a 2-1 lead on a shot from the slot that beat junior goaltender Matthew Galajda high to the glove side. For the second consecutive game, we entered the third period trailing. At 3:23 of the third period and skating on the power play, senior defenseman Yanni Kaldis worked the puck from the bottom of the left circle back to junior forward Brenden Locke at the left point. Locke sent a pass across ice to Berard just above the right face-off dot. Ben’s one-timer flew over the goaltender’s right shoulder to tie the game for the second straight contest.
In the overtime period, each team had two shots on goal. Galajda made 24 saves and the NMU goaltender, Nolan Kent, might have been the best player on the ice on Friday night, stopped 31 shots. We were 1-for-5 on the power play and Northern Michigan was 0-for-3. We killed off two major 5-minute penalties to remain unbeaten in our last five games.
On Saturday night, we made some changes in the lineup and we played harder than the night before, even though Northern Michigan out-shot us 17-8 in the first period. Even though we took fewer shots, we scored just 1:04 into the game. Junior forward Cam Donaldson ignited the play by chipping the puck back to the center of the ice to create a 2-on-1 situation. Junior forward Morgan Barron dished the puck off to junior defenseman Alex Green entering the the right circle. Green fired a shot that flew past the goaltender’s blocker. The visitors tied the score at 14:26 of the first, when we failed to clear the defensive zone. Galajda kept us in the game in the first 20 minutes with 16 saves.
In between periods, we made some adjustments to be a lot more aware and ready and came out and played a heck of a second period. Just 48 seconds into the second, we scored when Donaldson tipped in a Barron shot for the only scoring by either team in the middle stanza.
In the third period, we took the only two-goal lead of the weekend. At 6:48, three freshmen got into the scoring play. Defenseman Travis Mitchell sent a shot toward the goal that was tipped by forward Matt Stienburg at the top of the crease and forward Ben Tupker, making his first Lynah appearance, jammed in the rebound. All our goals were created by guys being around the net. On Saturday morning, we talked about getting people in front of the goaltender and it worked.
Galajda made 29 saves to 26 for the NMU goalie. Both teams were 0-for-4 on the power play. Our best penalty killer was Matty, making the big saves when needed!
We had four new faces in the lineup Saturday night. I think all the travel had taken a physical toll more than I originally thought. So far this year, we have been very fortunate having played 11 of our first 15 games on the road. We need to come out and play with the kind of passion, alertness and awareness that we showed on Saturday night in the second and third periods. We’ll keep plugging along.
Much is happening this coming weekend when we play our second consecutive home-stand. Dartmouth, our only loss this season, comes to Lynah Rink on Friday night, followed by Harvard Saturday evening. We are also hosting a reunion of the undefeated 1970 National Championship Team and with many of those great players returning to campus.