BIG RAPIDS, Mich. — It was a goaltenders’ duel.
Ferris State goaltender Mike Brown and Wildcat goaltender Craig Kowalski were the main attractions in this show — but in any show, one star must burn a little brighter than any other. Northern Michigan got two deflections past Brown en route to a 3-1 victory over Ferris State at Ewigleben Ice Arena.
The first period was full of action with both goaltenders making excellent saves. Kowalski robbed Chris Kunitz on the doorstep with a beautiful glove save, and Brown made a great split save at the other end less than a minute later.
No penalties were called, and both teams had their chances, but there was no score at the end of the period.
In the second period, Ferris State was awarded the first power play, and a minute into the opportunity, the edge turned into two-man advantage. But Kowalski was equal to the task as he stopped two great chances on the five-on-three.
Shortly after the Wildcats killed the penalties, they were awarded a five-on-three chance of their own. After Brown stopped two shots from the point, Jimmy Jackson’s third shot found the back of the net at 9:09 to make it 1-0. The goal was credited to Bryce Cockburn as he got a stick on it, but it also went off Simon Mangos’ stick before it went in.
Ferris State answered at 13:38 on a breakaway goal by Mike Kinnie. Kowalski was hot after stopping Kunitz and Brett Smith on two breakaway chances, but Kinnie made his opportunity count as he picked the top corner of the net to tie the game 1-1.
The third period was more of the same. The flow of the game was very fast, but the defense was fierce and goaltending was sensational.
After Kowalski made another glove save on Kunitz, Northern Michigan got a power play late in the game. Shortly after killing the penalty, Mike Stutzel got a deflection on a shot by Jackson to take a 2-1 lead at 17:57. Stutzel scored an empty-net goal at 19:05 to ice the game for the Wildcats.
“By just the way the game was going, it just looked like it would take a deflection or rebound chance to score a goal,” Bulldog coach Bob Daniels said. “Both goals they scored were off deflections and you can’t fault anyone for that. But, tomorrow is a new day and a new game.”
“It really isn’t a game you can look at and say you want to make adjustments,” Wildcats coach Walk Kyle said. “We will just have to see what happens tomorrow.”
Ferris State and Northern Michigan face off one more time on Saturday in Big Rapids, Mich.