MARQUETTE, Mich. — Northern Michigan University, facing Wayne State, began their second home series in a row tonight with both teams desperate for a win.
Thirty-one seconds into the first period, Mike Forgie, center for the Warriors, scored on the very first shot of the game. The goal, with assists from Jeff Caster and Tylor Michel, crept across the goal line left of Wildcat goalie Reid Ellingsons skate.
It was our plan to score early, Warriors coach Bill Wilkinson said. When you do that it puts the other team in a hole and then they have to press. Another few mistakes and you have a few more chances.
Eight seconds into the second period, the Warriors added another goal to their tally with the help of Michel, Forgie and Jared Katz that went up and over Ellingsons shoulder and hit the crossbar.
At 17:19 the Wildcats (9-12-2, 5-10-0 CCHA) retaliated with a goal from Mark Olver. Phil Fox, behind the net, took a pass from Derek May and in one motion gave it to Olver who put it left of Warriors goalie Mike Devoney.
4:26 into the third, the Warriors regained their two-point lead with a score of 3-1. The goal, from Katz, Forgie and Michel, gave all three players their second or third point of the night.
The Warriors (4-15-2, 1-5-0 CHA) scored again with four seconds left on a double power play at 14:29 with a shot from Derek Punches from Caister and Ryan Bernardi. This was the third goal of the night that went past Ellingsons left foot.
The difference between the two teams tonight was goaltending, Wilkinson said. Mike played fabulous for us. Ellingson got unlucky on a couple bounces. They hit some posts, but we put them in the back of the net. When you get good goaltending you get confident. Plain and simple.
With an open goal for the last minute and half, and a six-four man advantage due to a facemask-grabbing penalty from Caister, the still Wildcats failed to score.
It was Mikes first win, his first start, Wilkinson said. Hes a small goalie [at 57] but hes into the game and keeps his composure.
The Warriors finished the game 4-1, giving them their fourth win of the season, despite the fact that the Wildcats outshot them 36-26.
We have to play better hockey, Wildcat Coach Walt Kyle said. We were just sloppy and our plays were poorly executed. We had a lot of opportunities to score but their goaltender played very well. We have to be sharp. There were some bad bounces and we were outshot. We can talk about it all we want but excuses dont matter. We can blame the game on Reid, but if you dont score you dont win.
It was a great game for us. The guys played hard. I couldnt have done it without them in front of me, Devoney said. The played the puck well and were picking up loose pucks in front of the net, They would take the rebounds in front of the net and clear them out. We came out in the first and second period and scored on the first shift right at the start of the game. We were destined to win tonight. We played well and the boys worked hard.
The teams will face off for the sweep or split tomorrow night at 7:35 at the Berry Events Center.
You get one win, you want two. You get a little bit more greedy, Wilkinson said. But Im sure Walt would like to get the split. Well just try to come back and play the same game: Scoring early and scoring often.