Friday, March 9, 2007

Wildcats drop game one to Wolverines

For the NMU Wildcats, Friday night was a microcosm of the 2006-2007 season on a whole.

After digging a hole against the Michigan Wolverines, falling behind 3-0 in the first period, NMU just couldn't dig their way out, ultimately losing 4-1.

Freshman netminder Brian Stewart got the start for the Wildcats and began the game sluggishly, as did his teammates. In the first period alone, Stewart allowed three goals on ten shots.

After that first intermission, though, Stewart was a different goaltender and he made a plethora of sprawling saves to hold the Wolverine goal total at three. At the end of the night, Stewart had allowed just the three goals on 37 Michigan shots. All of this was done in front of a hostile Wolverine crowd that will call you every dirty name in the book as you head to the penalty box and will give a freshman goalie hell.

“Stewie was fine. They had one goal – their power-play goal – that was from a bad angle and it was something that he potentially could have had," NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. "Other than that I thought he did a great job. This is a tough environment. It’s a hell of a lot tougher place to play than it was down in Columbus last week, based on the crowd.”

Walt would not yet announce tomorrow's starting goaltender.

Trailing 3-0, NMU got a little help from forward Nick Sirota when he opened the second period by netting a goal just 1:20 into the frame. The marker came after he took a pass from Bobby Selden and streaked along the boards toward the net. Coming in alone at netminder Billy Sauer's left side, Sirota fired a perfect shot, top-shelf and past Sauer's ear.

The single goal was all that the Wildcats could muster, despite numerous opportunities in front of the Michigan net and an oft-surprised Sauer.

NMU controlled the pace of play for nearly the entire third period, but every time the Wolverine forwards get the puck, they are a definite threat. UM's Andrew Cogliano finished out the scoring by firing in an empty-net goal at the 19:09 mark of the third.

The NMU power-play got little exercise tonight and the Wildcats were on the advantage for just 59 seconds in the game. Michigan, on the other hand, took advantage of nine NMU penalties. Although they went just 1-6 with the extra skater, the Wolverines fired twelve power-play shots and had a man advantage for 10:22.

If NMU hopes to win game two tomorrow they must control the pace of play and stay out of the box. It will be near-impossible to win a special teams game against the Wolverines. Also, Stewart (or whoever is in net) needs to, once again, stand on his head.

The two teams face off again tomorrow night at 7:35. The game will be brodcast on FSN, as well.

1 comment:

Packer487 said...

That save Stewart made at the start of the second period was a potential game-changer. It becomes 4-0, game's over. Instead, NMU came down and scored a couple minutes later. Suddenly it's 3-1 and they've got life. I was pretty impressed with Stewart.