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Northern Michigan University hockey team rallies for overtime win and weekend sweep at No. 11 Bowling Green State Falcons

Darien Craighead

dBOWLING GREEN, Ohio — It definitely wasn’t a pretty win, but the Northern Michigan University hockey team got the job done on the road Saturday night.

After looking sharp against No. 11 Bowling Green State in Friday’s 5-2 win, the Wildcats were plagued by bad penalties in the series finale and fell behind 3-1 in the third period.

However, NMU rallied to tie it with two goals during the final two minutes of regulation, while Darien Craighead scored the overtime clincher to give the Wildcats a 4-3 victory.

The sweep of the

Falcons (12-9-1, 7-6-1-1 WCHA) helped Northern (11-7-2, 9-5) move up to third place in the WCHA.

Down 1-0 to start the third period, the Wildcats tied it at the 6:19 mark when national goal leader Griffin Loughran scored off a rebound with Northern on the power play for his 16th tally this season.

Things started to go downhill for NMU after that, though. Brandon Kruse scored on a power play at 12:19 to make it 2-1 BGSU, and less than a minute later, teammate Alec Rauhauser scored on another Falcons’ power play to push the advantage to two.

The Wildcats were dealt another blow with barely more than three minutes remaining when Loughran was ejected after being handed a game misconduct.

But despite losing its leading scorer, Northern fought its way back. With goaltender Nolan Kent pulled for an extra attacker, Wildcats forward Joe Nardi snapped a shot past Falcons goalie Eric Dop in the slot with 1:04 left. Less than 30 seconds later and Kent still on the bench, Grant Loven tied the game 3-3.

During the extra session, the clearly frustrated Falcons quickly started to put pressure on Kent, but the sophomore denied all four shots he faced. Then with less than a minute remaining in OT, Craighead streaked down the right boards on an offensive rush and beat Dop five-hole for the game-winner.

In the opening period, BG was the first to generate some offense with Jacob Dalton getting a great look at the net with 10:30 left, but Kent stopped the shot with a blocker save. The netminder then made three straight saves just a few seconds later to keep the game scoreless. Kent finished with 39 saves.

NMU got its first scoring opportunity another minute later when Vincent de Mey broke free on a partial breakaway, but Dop made the save and also kept out de Mey’s rebound attempt.

The Wildcats almost got on the scoreboard in the final minute of the period as defenseman Hank Sorensen had a good angle on Dop, but his shot rang off the pipe and out.

In the second period, NMU’s A.J. Vanderbeck had a wide-open net just over two minutes in, but Dop just got a piece of the shot to keep it out and the score stayed scoreless.

BG got its first scoring opportunity of the period on a power play. With Ty Readman in the box for slashing, Rauhauser rang a shot off the pipe and seconds later, Kent made a nice save on Will Cullen. Midway through the period, Kent came up big again as he robbed the Falcons’ Taylor Schneider on a give-and-go.

However, Kent could only do so much to keep BG off the scoreboard as the Falcons eventually got one past him late in the period. With the Falcons on another power play, Schneider scored on a tic-tac-toe goal at the 18:22 mark and BG took a 1-0 advantage into the roller coaster third.

NMU hosts Alaska-Anchorage Friday and Saturday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Writer Ryan Stieg. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.

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