Northern Michigan Advances to CCHA Final

DETROIT – Quick goals and a little extra time was all Northern Michigan needed to send themselves into CCHA Tournament championship game, as it downed Ferris State, 5-4.

Ferris State opened the scoring late in the first period when Jordie Johnston snapped a quick shot that went off of the facemask of Brian Stewart.  The rebound kicked to the middle of the ice where Todd Pococke shot the rebound into the empty net. Pococke’s fifth goal of the year gave the Bulldogs a one-goal lead heading into the first intermission.

Northern Michigan answered the one-goal deficit with the quickest three-goal spurt in CCHA Tournament history. The Wildcats netted the trio of goals in just 1:01. 

The first goal came from Ray Kaunisto after his wrap around attempt was stuffed by Pat Nagel; Kaunisto snapped the rebound to the far side and into the net. Fifty-one seconds later, Andrew Cherniwchan picked up the puck off of a funny bounce in the Ferris State zone and was one-on-one with Nagel. Cherniwchan put on a quick deke and backhanded the puck past Nagel to put the Wildcats up, 2-1.

To cap off the quick scoring spree for the Wildcats, Kaunisto picked up a loose puck in the slot and ripped it right over Nagel’s glove for his second goal of the night.

“You get that first goal and momentum swings your way,” Kaunisto said. “My second goal was a real lucky bounce off of my shin pads and right onto my stick.  I shot the puck kind of blind and it went in.”

Ferris State called a timeout to regroup.  After the timeout, the Bulldogs started to slow the game down, not letting the Wildcats keep up the offense.

Cody Chupp gave the Bulldogs a shot of life when he scored his ninth goal of the year with 2:31 to play in the second period. Chupp brought the puck below the goal line and while shedding two defenders, he turned and took a quick shot past Stewart’s glove to cut the deficit to one.

“I just took the puck around the net, kind of spun around and tried to get it on net,” Chupp said. “I was fortunate that it went in.

Northern Michigan added some cushion to their one goal lead at 11:56 in the third period. 

Kaunisto circled in the offensive zone and then found Tyler Gron wide open on the backdoor for the goal. 

Ferris State evened the score on a two-goal run in just 1:01. 

Mike Embach brought the puck into the Northern Michigan zone and snapped a shot that deflected off of TJ Miller’s stick and past Stewart to make the game 4-3. The tying goal came from Matthew Kirzinger with 5:53 to play in the game.  Kirzinger went top shelf on a sliding Stewart for the game tying goal.

Northern Michigan needed only 1:07 of the extra time to decide the game. Greger Hanson started streaking up the ice, cut to the middle at the hash marks in the Ferris State zone, and snapped a shot past Nagel’s blocker for the game winning tally.

“Greger is a guy who has a real ability to make big time plays in big moments,” said Northern Michigan head coach Walt Kyle. “He did a phenomenal job with that winning goal.”

Northern Michigan will take on Michigan, who beat Miami in the second game, 5-1, for the Mason Cup, while Ferris State faces off against the RedHawks for third place tomorrow.

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