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Puck luck not going way of NMU hockey team

Despite chances, Northern extends winless streak to eight

November 18, 2011
By MATT WELLENS - Journal Sports Editor ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Hockey players and coaches will tell you, puck luck is a funny thing.

When you're winning, it's always your side and when you're losing, it's nowhere to be seen.

"The chances were definitely there tonight, which is a positive," NMU senior Tyler Gron said. "It's definitely more frustrating when we lose a game without any chances and the other team shuts you down.

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"Tonight we out-chanced them and we had a lot of good opportunities and hopefully they will start going in."

The Wildcat hockey team experienced little-to-no puck luck on Friday night as it extended its winless streak to eight games in a 4-2 loss to the Michigan State Spartans in front of 3,286 fans at the Berry Events Center.

NMU has picked up a pair of shootout victories during the skid - worth two points in the CCHA standings - but it's last regulation victory came on Oct. 21 against Michigan.

It's the Wildcats only three-point victory this season in CCHA play.

"We're winless in eight now and no one in here is happy about that," NMU junior defenseman Scott Macaulay said. "We have to dig deep and find a way. It comes with hard work and dedication. We took a step tonight, but we still have more in the tank and need to show up tomorrow and take another step for sure."

Northern (4-6-3 overall, 1-5-3 in CCHA) outshot Michigan State (7-4-0 overall, 4-3-0 in CCHA) 27-24 with the post robbing the Wildcats of three goals.

Fact Box

College hockey

Michigan 4, Northern Michigan 2

Michigan State 2 1 1 - 4

Northern Michigan 1 0 1 - 2


First period - 1, MSU, Krug, Torey/4 (Darnell, Brent/1, Shelgren, Brock/6) 2:37. 2, NMU, Tyler Gron/5 (Erik Higby/4, Stephan Vigier/2) 9:19. 3, MSU, Buttery, Tim/1 (Reimer, Lee/10, Crandell, Matt/5) 17:34.

Second period - 4, MSU, Merrifield, Mike/7 (Krug, Torey/5, Reimer, Lee/11) :36.

Third period - 5, NMU, Tyler Gron/6 (Kyle Follmer/7) 13:21. 6, MSU, Reimer, Lee/6 (Crandell, Matt/5) 19:16 (empty net).

Shots on goal - MSU 10-5-9 24; NMU 10-9-8 27.

Power plays - MSU 0 of 3; NMU 0 of 4.

Penalties - MSU 6 (12 min); NMU 5 (10 min).

Goalies - MSU, Yanakeff, Will 5-1-0 (60:00 minutes, 27 shots-25 saves); NMU, Reid Ellingson 3-5-2 (58:54, 23-20).

It was a stark contrast to a week ago when NMU was held to 32 total shots in two games against Ohio State in Columbus.

"I was happy with the effort tonight," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "As a coach, you have to sit back and evaluate quality of play and I thought at the end of the night, I thought we had enough chances to win."

NMU senior Tyler Gron had both goals for NMU. He tied the game at 1-1 after crashing the net on a NMU three-on-two breakaway at 9:19 of the first period. He then pulled NMU within a goal seconds after the conclusion of four-on-four play with 6:39 to play in regulation.

Prior to Friday night, Gron had been kept off the scoresheet since Oct. 22 when he scored a pair of power play goals in a shootout loss to Michigan in Marquette.

Gron had only one even strength goal among his four coming into the weekend, but now sits tied with Stephan Vigier and Justin Florek tied with the team high of six goals.

"It's feels good to puck a few pucks in the net, but I guess it's too bad I had to do it on a losing night," Gron said. "I think scoring goals is definitely something this team needs right now. If we want to start getting on the winning side of games, we have to start doing that."

Spartan captain Torey Krugg put Northern down 1-0 less than three minutes into the game while senior Tim Buttery put the Spartans back out front at 17:43 of the first period with his first goal of the season.

Senior Mike Merrifield gave MSU a two-goal cushion 36 seconds into the second period with his seventh goal of the season.

Sophomore Lee Reimer buried a empty net goal to seal the win for Sparty with 44.8 seconds to play.

For MSU, it was only their third in in seven tries at the Berry Events Center.

"It's a real tough place to play and that's a real good team," said first-year Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos, who at this time a year ago was commissioner of the CCHA. "From what I understand, we haven't won a lot here in recent time. We're pretty satisfied with the effort tonight and happy to be on the right side of it."

Notes: Senior Reid Ellingson made 20 saves for NMU in goal while sophomore Will Yanakeff made 25 saves for the Spartans. ... The Wildcats were without senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan and freshman defenseman Mitch Jones. Cherniwchan missed Friday's game with an injury and is out indefinitely. Jones is due to serve a suspension of undisclosed length for violating the NMU student code, however, Kyle would not say if that was the reason for the freshman's absence on Friday.



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