Sometimes it takes a senior.
There aren't too many more difficult positions to be in than the one that the Wolverines found themselves in late in the third period of Saturday's game. Matt Rust was back in the locker room after a hitting-from-behind game misconduct. The team had just given up a 6 on 4 goal which tied the game in the last minute. The NMU crowd was going bonkers. On top of that, the forty-seconds left in regulation, along with the first three minutes of the overtime period (should there be one) would be played a man down.
Enter Chad Kolarik. I made mention in his preview a couple weeks back about how he was nice to have on the PK due to his ability to score short-handed goals and he came up with a huge one. He had been held without a goal through the first three games of the season but he picked a great time for his first, stealing the puck at the blueline and blasting a shot through Brian Stewart with 21 seconds remaining. Winner winner chicken dinner. And a big case of maize-and-blue balls for the Northern fans.
Steve McInchak once again was whistle-happy, awarding 13 power plays between the two teams and assessing a combined 58 PIMs. 6 1/2 minutes was the longest span in the entire game where the teams were playing at even-strength. I say again, if this league goes to a two-referee system next year, we're all in big, big trouble.
It sounds like Sauer again played fairly well, despite a subpar save percentage. The first goal was a power play one-timer from the circle. The next he made a save in the slot before the rebound went to an uncovered NMU player. The tying goal late in regulation could only be described as a "seeing-eye goal" as it sounds as if the shot worked itself through three or four players before finding Fox in perfect position to score.
Other notables from reading the stat sheet:
-The power play was 2 for 5, giving them a very solid 4 for 14 weekend with the man advantage. Kevin Porter tallied three of those goals with Kolarik and Palushaj assisted on all three.
-Kevin Quick sat out in favor of Scooter Vaughan, who I was told played a very solid game.
-Brian Lebler remained in the lineup over Brandon Naurato.
-The Wildcats changed goalies after Michigan took a 3-2 lead with 4:38 remaining in regulation despite Derek Janzen making 10 saves in the third period to that point. His replacement, Brian Stewart, gave up the game winner on the only shot that he faced.
That may have been the most inexplicable goalie switch since Gordon Bombay put in Julie "The Cat" Gaffney for the last shot in the shoot-out against Iceland.
I'll be really curious to see the explanation for that one when I do the media roundup piece tomorrow. I gotta believe someone asked Walt Kyle about that one.
-Kolarik got back to going bombs-away, accounting for 6 of our 19 shots on goal.
-Rust was dominant on faceoffs, winning 12 of 18. The rest of the team got killed, winning 15 out of the other 46.
Overall another great weekend. The team defense held the shots down for the fourth straight game (22 is the most we've given up thusfar) and if we hold the goals against to three or less, we're going to win a lot of hockey games. Giving up 4+ is what kills us. Three I can live with.
It's impossible to complain about 3-1 after 4 games, especially since they've yet to play at home. Next weekend we get BU who has really struggled thusfar, going 0-2-1 to start the season, losing to Robert Morris in the process.