MARQUETTE - For the second-straight season, the Northern Michigan University hockey team doubled up on Bowling Green State in Game 1 of a best-of-three CCHA first-round playoff series at the Berry Events Center.
And because of last year's debacle - NMU lost the next two games and the series - no one is celebrating just quite yet in the Wildcat locker room.
"We're confident, but they are confident too," said NMU senior captain Justin Florek of Marquette. "It's just a matter of will going into this next game. It's going to be a battle. It's not going to be easy. We know that, they know that and it's going to be a great game."
The Wildcats picked up a pair of third-period goals for a 4-2 victory on Friday night and will go for the series sweep Saturday against BGSU in Marquette.
The puck will drop again at 7:35 p.m. and the Wildcats will set out to erase last year's memory of following up a 6-3 victory in Game 1 with a 2-0 and 2-1 double-overtime loss at the BEC to the Falcons.
"I thought Bowling Green played really well," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "I thought we looked nervous. I wasn't happy with our efforts early. I thought we were sloppy throughout the whole game, but we had some big guys score when we needed to."
Northern Michigan University sophomore center Stephan Vigier takes a faceoff against Bowling Green State freshman Ryan Carpenter during Game 1 of a best-of-three CCHA first-round playoff series at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
NMU senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan scored the game-winning goal during the Wildcats' second power play of the night, getting assists from freshman defenseman Mitch Jones and sophomore forward Stephan Vigier 1:27 into the third period to put BGSU down 3-2.
Senior forward Tyler Gron, via a pass by sophomore defenseman C.J. Ludwig, added an insurance goal midway through the third period on his way out of the penalty box for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving NMU a 4-2 lead.
The Falcons and Wildcats traded goals through the first two periods with BGSU jumping out to a very early 1-0 lead and NMU taking a 2-1 advantage just under five minutes into the second period.
NMU will go for the sweep against BGSU at 7:35 p.m. in Game 2 of the best-of-three CCHA first-round series at the Berry Events Center.
Best-of-three at Marquette
Northern Michigan 4, Bowling Green 2
NMU leads series 1-0
Bowling Green....... 1 1 0 - 2
Northern Michigan... 1 1 2 - 4
First period - 1, BGSU, DeSalvo, Dan/5 (Kucera, Connor/5, Berkle, Adam/10) :53. 2, NMU, Justin Florek/18 (Matt Thurber/19, Kyle Follmer/22) 11:58.
Second period - 3, NMU, Ryan Daugherty/3 (Jake Baker/7, Mitch Jones/6) 4:58. 4, BGSU, Berkle, Adam/6 (Carpenter, Ryan/14, Sloat, Jake/6) 13:32.
Third period - 5, NMU, Andrew Cherniwchan/10 (Mitch Jones/7, Stephan Vigier/11) 1:27 (pp). 6, NMU, Tyler Gron/17 (CJ Ludwig/5) 11:41.
Shots on goal - BGSU 13-10-10 33; NMU 7-10-9 26.
Power plays - BGSU 0 of 3; NMU 1 of 2.
Penalties - BGSU 3 (6 min); NMU 3 (6 min).
Goalies - BGSU, Hammond, Andrew 10-21-5 (58:44 minutes, 26 shots-22 saves) , EMPTY NET (01:16, 0-0); NMU, Jared Coreau 12-6-2 (60:00, 33-31).
Freshman forward Dan DeSalvo tallied his fifth goal of the season and first since November to put BGSU up 1-0 on NMU 53 seconds into the game with assists by freshmen Connor Kucera and Adam Berkle.
Florek, who could play his final game as a Wildcat Saturday at the Berry Events Center should NMU finish the sweep, tied the game at 1-1 midway through the first period by taking a through pass from junior Matt Thurber and beating three Falcons en route to beating BGSU goaltender Andrew Hammond.
"I think everyone is starting to pull their weight," Florek said. "We're starting to get scoring from all different lines. It just seems like different guys are scoring every night which is great for us. I think if we can balance that attack like we've been doing, it will be very beneficial for us."
Freshman Ryan Daugherty, who had only one assist in his first 23 games as a Wildcat, gave NMU a 2-1 lead 4:58 into the second period with assists from freshmen defensemen Jake Baker and Jones. It was Daugherty's third goal of the season and third score in five games. He also has an assist in that span.
Berkle tied the game back up at 2-2 by tipping a puck past NMU sophomore netminder Jared Coreau 13:32 into the second period. He was assisted by BGSU sophomore defenseman Jake Sloat - who created the turnover in the NMU defensive zone - and freshman Ryan Carpenter - who put the original shot on net.
Coreau, who made his first career playoff start Friday, made 31 saves for NMU while Hammond stopped 22 shots in his third start at the Berry Events Center.
Last season, after giving up four goals in the Game-1 loss, Hammond stopped 73 of the next 74 NMU shots to lead BGSU into the second round.
This season, BGSU second-year head coach Chris Bergeron said the Falcons will need more than just Hammond to pull off another upset.
"The offense has to kick up a little bit," Bergeron said. "I think Andrew is capable of us riding him, but I don't think we need to rely on that. Andrew is one of our better players and we expect him to play well tomorrow night. We expect a lot of other guys to play well tomorrow night and some guys to play better tomorrow than they did tonight."