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Wildcats Win Barn Burner In Big Rapids

Cats overtime winners over Ferris State.
 (NMU Graphic)
(NMU Graphic) (WLUC)
Published: Nov. 20, 2021 at 11:45 PM EST
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BIG RAPIDS, Mich. (WLUC) - Depth scoring proved the difference maker in the Northern Michigan University hockey team’s 7-6 overtime thriller at Ferris State University Saturday night. Mike Van Unen, a junior defenseman, net the game-winning puck at 1:36 of the overtime session while two others lit the lamp for their first career goals in the victory. Reminiscent of game one, the Wildcats found themselves down a goal heading into the second period and on the penalty kill. The Wildcats withstood a series of shots early in Saturday night action, as FSU peppered Rico DiMatteo in net, eventually breaking the stalemate at 7:35 of the opening period. Mack Byers tied things up minutes later when he net the first of his career at 12:23. The sophomore forward skated into the offensive zone, taking the puck along the far side before cutting in on net and beating both defenders for the tying tally. FSU reclaimed the lead with 3:04 to play in the first period when a shot from the near circle beat DiMatteo glove side as NMU found themselves down, 2-1, at the end of one period. The Bulldogs extended their lead to 3-1 less than two minutes into the second period and the ‘Cats fought to claw their way back, scoring four unanswered goals to carry the 5-3 lead into the final period of regulation. Rylan Van Unen pulled NMU within one on a delayed penalty call, negating a penalty shot opportunity as Vincent de Mey was tripped up at the crease. Andre Ghantous then knotted things up, 3-3, with 6:54 elapsed in the period before AJ Vanderbeck scored a power play goal and Oscar Geschwind scored the first of his career to round out the period scoring. FSU made it a one-goal game just two minutes into the final period of regulation as a shot whizzed by DiMatteo for the 5-4 score. The Wildcats were then called for a series of penalties and played the majority of the first half of the frame on the kill. At 12:43, again on the penalty kill, Ben Newhouse found Hank Crone alone in the neutral zone for the shorthanded breakaway goal, extending NMU’s lead back to two. The Bulldogs would not be sent home easy, tallying two goals in the final 3:03 of regulation time, including a shorthanded goal of their own to tie things up and force the decisive overtime session. With just 30 ticks left in regulation, the Wildcats froze the puck and a face-off to the right of DiMatteo was set up. The Bulldogs won the ensuing draw and fired a shot off. DiMatteo made the initial save but the rebound found the tape of an FSU stick and they buried the puck into a wide open net. The Wildcats dominated possession in the overtime period, allowing just one shot on goal by the opposition before Mike Van Unen net the game-winning tally at 1:36 of the extra session.

GOALS

  • Mack Byers slipped through defenders through the offensive zone, crossing the crease and sliding a back-handed shot into the back of the net to knot things up at one-all just over halfway through the first period. Tanner Vescio and David Keefer each earned assists on the goal.
  • Vincent de Mey skated in on the breakaway, getting tripped up late, leaving the puck out front. Rylan Van Unen found the puck sitting on the goal line and tapped it home for his second goal of the weekend.
  • Andre Ghantous tied things up at 3-3 with an unassisted tally scored from the slot at 6:54 of the second period.
  • The Wildcats saw their first lead of the game when AJ Vanderbeck fired a shot off from the point on the man-advantage. The goal, assisted by Hank Crone, came at 15:26 of the second stanza.
  • Oscar Geschwind got the rebound shot for his first career tally, beating FSU’s Stein in the crease at 17:16 to extend the NMU lead to 5-3.
  • Ben Newhouse cleared the puck out of the Wildcats’ defensive end to an open Crone out at center ice. The junior from Dallas, Texas skated in alone on net to score the team’s first shorthanded goal of the season and made it a 6-4 game.
  • Mike Van Unen scored the overtime game-winner at 1:36 of the extra period when he weaved into the offensive zone, splitting defenders and fired a shot top shelf to beat Stein in the FSU net. Crone and de Mey both picked up assists on the overtime winner.

KEY STATS

  • The Wildcats had seven goals off 18 shots on net in Saturday night’s victory while Rico DiMatteo turned aside 38 of 44 shots faced.
  • Two Wildcats tallied first career goals in the win as Mack Byers and Oscar Geschwind each scored the first of their careers.
  • NMU registered nine blocked shots in the contest, led by Mike Van Unen and Andre Ghantous with two each.
  • Three Wildcats boasted multi-point games, including Hank Crone (1-2-3) and Vincent de Mey (0-3-3). Rylan Van Unen also highlighted the box score on multiple occasions, netting an goal and an assist in the win.
  • After Saturday night’s victory, six Wildcats are now on point streaks, including Crone and Ben Newhouse, Geschwind and R. Van Unen who all ride current career-highs.
  • The team leader in points, Crone now boasts six goals and 14 assists for 20 points as a Wildcat. He’s tallied at least one point in each of his last six games (3-8-11) for a team-best streak.
  • Newhouse has scored a point (1-4-5) in each of his last five games for a career-best point-streak.
  • Andre Ghantous (3 games, 2-3-5), de Mey (2 games, 1-4-5), R. Van Unen (2 games, 2-1-3) and Geschwind (2 games, 1-2-3) also ride point streaks currently.
  • For the first time as Wildcat teammates, both Van Unens found the back of the net, including Mike’s game-winner in the three-on-three overtime session.

UP NEXT The Wildcats return home to the Berry Events Center for a Thanksgiving weekend series against CCHA foe Bowling Green State University, Nov. 26-27. Puck drop for both games is set for 6:37 p.m. Tickets for both games are still available and can be purchased online at tickets.nmu.edu or in-person at any NMU ticketing outlet.

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