MARQUETTE, Mich. — Freshman goalie Craig Kowalski stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced Friday, helping Northern Michigan earn a 1-1 tie with No. 8 Western Michigan at the Berry Events Center.
The tie gives NMU three of the four points it could have earned against the Broncos, and puts the Wildcats (11-8-7, 7-7-6) in a fifth-place gridlock in the CCHA.
Both of the game’s goals came on the power play in the second period, with Mike Sandbeck scoring first for Northern and Steve Rymsha answering for Western.
The Broncos outshot NMU, 30-24, but had to fight for their lives in overtime, as the Wildcats received a power play just 14 seconds in. NMU finished with eight shots in the extra session, while Western had two.
“We played a very good team – a highly-ranked team,” NMU coach Rick Comley said. “We played very well last night and caught them off guard, I think. [Western] played a lot better tonight, and I think it took us a period or a period and a half to get our legs under us. We played pretty well in the third period and in overtime.”
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Sandbeck broke the ice with his first of the season at 11:21. The senior forward beat WMU goalie Jeff Reynaert through the five hole, scoring on the power play to make it 1-0. Assists went to Terry Harrison and Jimmy Jackson.
But the Broncos countered by tying the contest three minutes later, when Rymsha got his 19th from David Gove and Mike Bishai.
NMU finished 1-for-6 with the man advantage, while the Broncos were 1-for-7.
“Our penalty killing was outstanding,” Comley said. “Our power play – at times we moved the puck well – but they block shots very well. We had some great chances.”
Both goaltenders made a number of quality saves to keep the score tied at 1. Reynaert finished with 23 stops for Western.
The Wildcats will now prepare to host No. 1 Michigan State next Friday and Saturday in Marquette. Western, meanwhile, will play at Miami.