The posting of this recap is a bit delayed due to an extended power outage last night. Our power utility sends their apologies.
So say what you want about the shootout, its here and tonight it helped the Nanooks earn another point in the CCHA standings in a race where the tortoise seems to be catching the hare. The standings gap is narrowing as just 11 points separate 2nd and 10th places. With 15 games yet to be played, there are a lot of points still on the table.
Speaking of points, the Nanooks took two out of a very difficult arena in Marquette as the Nanooks rallied from two goals down going into the 3rd period to tie the game and force overtime. Pure determination and a will to win is the real story here. I said in my preview that a lot of the guys were battling illnesses, but you just couldn't tell. You also couldn't tell that they hadn't played a game in 34 days. If I can say anything about the game, its that the guys came ready to play and they made Northern earn their single point. The Wildcats had a bit of momentum generated in the 2nd period getting that power play goal which seemed to change the tide a bit. Northern continued to cram bodies in front of the net, often having three skaters stick their butts into Greenham's face to keep him from seeing the play. His positioning, staying square in front of the puck resulted in a few saves, but two eventually found their way to the back of the net about 3:30 apart in the 2nd.
Trailing, the Nanooks didn't even look the slightest bit rattled and by every definition, started kicking ass. While controlling play, they countered Northern's offensive attack with a strong back check and not allowing the Wildcats to even get set up. The deficit was narrowed at 7:41 into the 3rd with an impressive play by Taranto who made a beautiful saucer pass across the crease over Ellingson's stick and found Cody Kunyk on the back door to cut Northern's lead to just one. Aaron Gens will also get credit with a helper setting up Taranto from the point.
Colton Beck notched the Nanook's lone power play goal on five chances with helpers from Enders and Gens. I didn't get to see the actual goal, but the power play chance was created by Garrick Perry who was really going to work. In his first game back since mid-November, Perry was a forward on a mission as his quick feet created a small breakaway chance for the freshman as NMU defenseman Scott Macaulay tripped him up before he could get away.
With the pedal to the metal, the Nanooks kept firing away, trying to win this game outright. The Nanooks caught a break as Andrew Cherniwchan missed the puck shooting at an open net with just seconds remaining in the 3rd. Headed into overtime, the Nanooks outshot the Wildcats 11-4 in the 3rd period.
Now into overtime, the Nanooks kept control and kept taking it to Northern, with Ellingson standing on his head to keep the puck out of the back of the net. With Northern chasing and their frustrations mounting, defenseman Wade Epp was flagged for boarding Andy Taranto after he got around Epp trying to get to the net. Now with the power play with 2:27 left in OT, coach Ferguson took a timeout and I really liked the call here. Electing to skate 4 forwards and 1 defenseman on the power play is a bit of a gamble, but one that nearly paid off. A shot from the point by Finucci set up Kunyk off the rebound, but Ellingson made a flashy glove save on the shot. Taranto just missed a shot wide at an open corner, and Kunyk had another glorious chance that went high, but the hard shot took a funky rebound off the glass and nearly ended up coming back in front of the net, but the puck stayed on top of the goal.
After the shift change, defenseman Michael Quinn had a good chance at the net as Yaremchuk found him pinching in, but his shot hit the right post. With the power play over, the Nanooks kept possession and working the puck with traffic in front, but with 50 seconds left, Colton Beck was flagged for goaltender interference after being pushed into the crease. Now down a man, the Nanooks stayed in the lanes and didn't allow Northern to generate any chances as time expired. After getting 4 quality scoring chances on 4 shots, the Nanooks didn't allow a single puck to reach Greenham, but with Beck still in the box, he would not available in the shootout.
Nik Yaremchuk scored the lone tally for the Nanooks, which with Greenham between the pipes is plenty to earn the win. Nik had a great fake left, and was able to bring the puck back to the other side to get it between Ellingson's pad and the post. With the last shot for Northern, Reed Seckel needed to score but Greenham didn't even let him shoot as he reached his stick out and poked the puck off of Seckel's forehand to end it.
The Nanooks ended Friday with 2 points in a shootout win, outshooting the Wildcats 32-23 through 65 minutes. The rematch comes Saturday at 3:30PM AKDT.