MARQUETTE - Northern Michigan University sophomore forward Reed Seckel met his fair share of obstacles on his way to the Notre Dame net on Friday as the Fighting Irish threw everything they had at him in an attempt to slow down the speedy Wildcat forward and keep his pucks out of the goal.
Come the third round of the shootout, however, there was finally nothing in the way of Seckel and the back of the golden domers' net.
"The first couple guys went and they didn't score so I was like, 'Perfect. I have no pressure,'" Seckel said. "If I score, we win it. If not, we go another round.
"I didn't think too much about it and did what I always do to win the game."?The No. 17-ranked Wildcats battled the No. 6 Fighting Irish to a 2-2 tie in front of 3,794 fans at the Berry Events Center with Seckel earning Northern an extra point in the CCHA standings by burying the only goal in the three-round shootout.
Notre Dame (5-2-1 overall, 3-1-1 in CCHA) and Northern (4-3-2 overall, 1-2-2-1 in CCHA) return to the Berry Events Center tonight for the Pink Experience at 7:35 p.m. with the Wildcats' pink game jersey's and Justin Florek's pink stick being auctioned off after the game.
"I was happy with how resilient we were," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "There were times that they came at us extremely hard. They are a very well coached team. They have a ton of talent over there. They are one of the best teams in the country. It was an opportunity for us to get some points and we'll have to be better to get some more points."
Seckel had a pair of scoring chances - including a wrap around early - foiled in the first period, and while he was unable to score, he did draw two penalties.
Putting Northern on the power play proved smarter than letting Seckel have his shot on goal as NMU was held without a shot on both advantages.
They were the 'Cats only power plays all night.
Northern Michigan 2, Notre Dame 2 (OT)
(NMU wins shootout 1-0)
Notre Dame 1 1 0 0 - 2
Northern Michigan 1 1 0 0 - 2
First period - 1, NMU, Ryan Kesti/1 (Tyler Gron/3) 6:02. 2, ND, Mike
Voran/2 (Billy Maday/7) 13:20.
Second period - 3, ND, Billy Maday/2 (Anders Lee/4, Riley Sheahan/7)
3:36 (pp). 4, NMU, Justin Florek/6 (Reed Seckel/2, Matt Thurber/7)
Third period - No scoring.
Overtime - No scoring.
Shootout - NMU, Seckel.
Shots on goal - ND 8-14-4-1 27; NMU 10-4-6-1 21.
Power plays - ND 1 of 5; NMU 0 of 2.
Penalties - ND 2 (4 min); NMU 5 (10 min).
Goalies - ND, Mike Johnson (64:50 minutes, 21 shots-19 saves). NMU, Reid Ellingson (65:00, 27-25).
"I give Reed credit, because he played the off wing tonight," Kyle said. "That's not an easy job. I thought he did a real good job. He's a really good hockey player and I'd like to see him get some goals here and get on track like that."
Senior Andrew Cherniwchan had two chances in overtime to bury the game-winner for Northern, hitting the right post with around 2:30 to play and sending another shot into the bread basket of Notre Dame goaltender Mike Johnson with 36 seconds on the clock.
Both chances were created by neutral zone turnovers and coverage, something the Wildcats focused on all week in practice following a pair of losses at Western Michigan a week ago.
"We just stuck to our game," Cherniwichan said. "Most of those chances came off of good coverage and causing turnovers and converting on them.
"We knew we had to have a good week of practice and have a strong effort after losing both games last weekend."
A pair of Yoopers, Florek of Marquette and Kory Kaunisto of Sault Ste. Marie, switched spots in the line charts Friday and the move paid off for Florek, who tied the game at 2-2 in the second period off assists by linemates Seckel and Matt Thurber.
Sophomore Ryan Kesti gave Northern a 1-0 lead 6:02 into the game, though the shot appeared to go off the stick of sophomore Brian Nugent.
Notre Dame took a 2-1 lead with goals by Mike Voran at 13:20 of the first period and Billy Maday on the power play 3:36 into the second period.
"It was a good road game for us," Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson said. "A tie is important. The extra point goes to Northern. They deserve it. They played a good game."
Reid Ellingson finished with 25 saves for Northern, with Kyle not willing to commit to playing Ellingson again on Saturday.
Game 2 of series this season had been reserved for sophomore Jared Coreau, but he was pulled midway through the first period at Western Michigan last week and relieved by Ellingson.
Kyle said earlier in the week that Ellingson had a shot at taking over the No. 1 role and could start both nights this weekend.
"I thought (Ellingson) was exceptional and we'll make the call on that as it goes," Kyle said. "Whoever we play we hope is efficient."