’Cats dump Bowling Green with sweep

Delaney Lovett

The No. 19 Wildcats accomplished their first CCHA sweep on the road this season with victories over Bowling Green State University Friday, Feb. 10 and Saturday, Feb. 11.

The Northern Michigan hockey team improves its record to 9-9-6-3 in the CCHA and 14-10-6 overall with the 4-2 win Friday and a 2-0 shutout Saturday.

“The sweep was probably the best part because they were games we really needed to win,” said sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau. “It was a pretty good feeling on the bus ride home.”

Northern displayed its dominance early on Friday, putting up a 3-0 lead in the first period. Both goals were scored power plays by sophomore center Stephan Vigier and junior defenseman Scott Macaulay.

Senior right wing Andrew Cherniwchan picked up an even-strength goal in the first and senior left wing Justin Florek picked up a fourth goal for the ’Cats in the second period.

“We’ve been playing a little bit sluggish, and I think we had our energy back in our game,” said head coach Walt Kyle. “Our special teams were very good, power play and penalty killing, and Coreau was very good.”

Coreau stopped 32 of 34 Falcon shots on Friday and all 23 of their shots on Saturday for his first shutout as a Wildcat.

“Jared Coreau was awesome in net,” Cherniwchan said. “He’s a big reason why our penalty kill was so good over the weekend.”

Unlike Friday’s commanding start, Saturday’s game was held scoreless until the second period when the ’Cats capitalized on yet another power-play opportunity. Freshman defenseman Mitch Jones put in his fourth of the season.

“All last week, Walt was changing things around with the power play and the penalty kill,” Coreau said. “We pretty much just said that we hadn’t been getting the job done.”

Kyle said the adjustments made to the special teams paid off, as NMU scored on 2 of 4 power plays on Friday and 1 of 3 on Saturday and they successfully killed every Falcon power play.

Topping off the Wildcat win on Saturday was Cherniwchan with an empty-net goal late in the third for his second of the series.

With a couple of Northern’s top players gone or out with injuries, Kyle said the third and fourth lines made a big impact on the outcome of the game.

“They didn’t necessarily show up on the score sheet, but they were able to help create that energy and tempo that we wanted,” Kyle said. “They were able to play the kind of game we needed them to play.”

The series sweep bumped the Wildcats up to a three-way tie with Notre Dame and Miami University for seventh place in the CCHA. Walt said the league is currently very close in points.

“Six points, that’s two games between us and second,” Kyle said. “Anyone could fall flat and lose those games and anyone can run the table.”

Kyle said although players, coaches and fans can’t help but look at the standings, the Wildcats have to be most concerned with their quality of play.

“If our quality of play is good, it results in wins,” Kyle said. “Wins result in points which move us up in standings.”

Northern takes on No. 5 Michigan this weekend at the Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. Kyle said the ’Cats will be put to the test as the Wolverines generate offense on their own.

“What you can’t do is give them more offensive opportunities through turning pucks over, from getting shots blocked, through taking bad penalties.”

Coreau said it will be important for the Wildcats to get the puck to the net when they have offensive rushes instead of making too many passes.

“It’s going to be hard to get chances so we have to make the most of what we can,” Coreau said. “If we pass up shots against Michigan it’s not going to work out the best for us.”

The Wildcats face the Wolverines at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17 and at 5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 18.