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Joe Nardi scores overtime winner as Northern Michigan University rallies past Ferris State, 6-5

Joe Nardi

BIG RAPIDS — The Northern Michigan University experienced a bit of deja vu Wednesday afternoon.

When the Wildcats opened their season several weeks ago in Marquette, NMU blitzed Ferris State for three goals in the first period and held off a furious rally for a 5-4 victory.

In Wednesday’s rematch, the Bulldogs returned the favor on their home ice as they took advantage of some NMU mistakes and sloppy play to fire three goals past Wildcats goalie Connor Ryckman in the opening period.

However, just like Ferris did, Northern rallied as the game went on, but unlike the Bulldogs, the ‘Cats finished the job as Joe Nardi tipped a cross-ice feed from Griffin Loughran under Ferris goalie Roni Salmenkangas’ pad for a 6-5 overtime win. Vincent de Mey and A.J. Vanderbeck each had two goals for Northern.

NMU made its first mistake shortly after it killed off a penalty as Mitch Deelstra picked off a pass at the Wildcats’ blue line and snapped a shot over Ryckman’s right shoulder to put Ferris up 1-0.

Griffin Loughran

A little more than a minute later, the Bulldogs struck again as Max Finner weaved his way into the Northern defensive zone and got a shot on net. Ryckman made a kick save, but kicked it right to Ethan Stewart, who beat him to the left post.

At the other end of the ice, Northern struggled to get a decent look on net with the best shot coming from Andre Ghantous with about 10:45 left, but he rang it off the crossbar.

After going scoreless on their first two power plays in the period, the ‘Cats got a third one, thanks to a Bulldogs bench minor, but they ended up getting burned. Ferris blocked a shot attempt and two skaters raced up ice. Deelstra sent a pass over to Jake Transit and he beat a sprawling Ryckman to the left post for the shorthanded tally at the 15:47 mark.

With the Bulldogs still on the kill, Deelstra almost padded the lead to 4-0, but Ryckman just got a piece of the shot to keep the deficit at 3-0 going into the second period.

Just like the Bulldogs did in NMU’s opener, the Wildcats slowly chipped away at their deficit. While on the power play early in the second, de Mey got a cross-ice pass from Nardi and shot a one-timer past Salmenkangas’ blocker to cut the Bulldogs’ advantage to 3-1. Later in the period, Northern got its second break, again on the power play.

Vincent de Mey

With a 4-on-3 advantage, Nardi left a drop pass for Mike Van Unen, who one-timed the puck past Salmenkangas’ glove. The Wildcats’ biggest break of the game happened less than three minutes after the Van Unen tally. With the puck iced into the Bulldogs zone, Salmenkangas attempted to clear it out with a poke-check. However, the poke was blocked by a sliding de Mey and it slid into the net to tie the game 3-3.

The momentum appeared to be all with the Wildcats at that point, but the Bulldogs didn’t quit and snatched the lead back with six seconds left as Justin Michaelian sent a cross-ice pass over to Coale Norris on an offensive rush and Norris beat Ryckman to the right post to give Ferris a 4-3 advantage going into the third period.

NMU wasn’t deterred, though. After drawing another penalty toward the middle of the third, Vanderbeck got the puck over by the right circle in the FSU zone, patiently lined up his shot and sniped it past Salmenkangas to tie the game 4-4. At the 14:47 mark, Northern picked up its first lead of the day as Vanderbeck struck again, faking out Salmenkangas and scoring on a breakaway.

It appeared as if the Wildcats were in control as they kept Ferris at bay until the final minute. During a wacky couple of seconds, Ferris appeared to have tied the score to force OT, but it was waved off and NMU’s Mason Palmer instead scored on an empty netter to make it a two-goal cushion for Northern.

However, after a lengthy review, it was determined that the game-tying shot by the Bulldogs’ Jason Brancheau went off two posts and just snuck across the goal line, so the teams skated into the extra session tied 5-5.

A.J. Vanderbeck

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

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