MARQUETTE - After giving Northern Michigan its second-consecutive shootout victory in as many nights, Northern Michigan University senior forward Tyler Gron hated to single out one player as the reason for the Wildcats success Saturday against Notre Dame.
One person can't make a team, especially not him.
NMU senior goaltender Reid Ellingson, however, is a different story.
Northern?Michigan University senior goaltender Reid Ellingson (35) moves to his left to make a save against Notre Dame’s T.J. Tynan during the second round of a shootout on Saturday at the Berry Events Center in the Pink?Experience. (Journal photo by?Matt Keiser)
Ellingson gets in position in anticipation of a save during the third period while sophomore Wade Epp (27) and senior Andrew Cherniwchan (22) stand guard. Ellingson made 44 saves against the Fighting Irish on Saturday and turned away all three Notre Dame attempts in the shootout as the Wildcats tied the Irish 1-1 and won the shootout 1-0. (Journal photo by?Matt Keiser)
"He's been standing on his head," Gron said. "It's not good to say it, but he's almost single handedly winning us some games here. He's keeping the games close. He's making saves to cover for guys who have let their guys go defensively. I wouldn't ask for anyone else in net right now."
Making back-to-back starts for the first time this season, Ellingson stopped 44 shots as the No. 17-ranked Wildcats earned a 1-1 tie against No. 6 Notre Dame in front of a sellout crowd at the Berry Events Center for the Pink Experience to benefit the Marquette General Cancer Center.
In addition to his 44 saves made during three periods and overtime, Ellingson stopped a pair of Notre Dame shots in the shootout, watched Gron beat Fighting Irish goaltender Mike Johnson and then forced another Notre Dame shot wide to secure the victory.
"I feel confident right now and my defense is clearing pucks whenever I do leave rebounds," Ellingson said. "Against a team like that, you kind of have a bend, but don't break mentality. They are a great team and able to cycle on us. We were fortunate and able to keep them on the outside for the most part."
Ellingson has now appeared in four straight games after splitting time with sophomore Jared Coreau to start the season through the first eight contests.
The senior traditionally received the Friday night starts while the sophomore started Saturday, but last weekend Ellingson was forced to relieve Coreau 10 minutes into the first period of Game 2 at Western Michigan with NMU trailing 2-0.
Ellingson only allowed one goal, the Broncos' overtime game-winner, but it was enough to get two starts this weekend start after backstopping NMU to a 2-2 tie over Notre Dame on Friday.
Ellingson made 25 saves and stopped a pair of shots in the Game 1 shootout as well with sophomore Reed Seckel burying the lone shootout goal in the third round.
In Kyle's mind, there's little doubt who the CCHA Goaltender of the Week should be.
"He did a great job," Kyle said. "They came at us harder tonight, which we knew they would. We took a lot of penalties in the second period and gave them some opportunities there. They threw some shots at us and Reid stood tall at the end when we were a little bit tired."
Kyle split time between his two goaltenders for two reasons, the first being to see who could come out on top as the No. 1 guy.
The second reason was fatigue and a fear of burning out one guy too early in the season.
Ellingson isn't worried about fatigue one bit, even after making 60 saves over the weekend.
"I feel good," Ellingson said. "We all work hard in the summer. I don't think fatigue should be a factor. It's just two games a weekend and you have all week to prepare for that."
Kyle plans to continue to ride the hot glove and probably will not declare either Ellingson or Coreau as the No. 1.
Ellingson does have the upper hand, however, but that doesn't mean Coreau's time in goal is over, according to the NMU coach.
"We have two capable guys," Kyle said. "Reid has the chance to get the ball in his hands again because of his play and that's what you want.
"Trust me, Jared Coreau is capable of playing in big games and pulling those kind of games out as well.
"Right now it's Reid and he will get the next start."
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.