MARQUETTE - The CCHA officiating crew working Northern Michigan University's 2-1 nonconference victory over Michigan Tech on Tuesday at the Berry Events Center in Marquette had already made two trips to the review booth for second looks at goals and non-goals by the midway point of the second period.
But with just four seconds remaining before the second intermission, Wildcat junior goaltender Jared Coreau wanted referees Bradley Albers and Brian Aaron to take another look at a possible goal scored by the Huskies sophomore forward Tanner Kero, which if held up would cut Northern's lead to one.
Coreau had a hunch as to how he wound up on his back while Kero's shot slid across the goal line.
"I just felt a guy's stick on the back of my left leg," Coreau said. "I didn't think I was off balance, but that set me off for sure.
"I told the ref and I don't think he was too pleased. It think it was his fourth time going back to the box to look it up."
Coreau's persistence paid off with the goal being waved off, allowing the Wildcats (6-8-3) to rebound from a pair of conference losses to Western Michigan over the weekend with their fourth-straight victory over the Huskies (4-8-1) and 66th all time in the 127th meeting between the Upper Peninsula schools.
NMU's Cohen Adair and Tech's Alex Petan get into a confrontation after the game. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
The Huskies are now winless against Northern dating back to an Oct. 8, 2010 meeting in Houghton with a 48-66-13 all-time record against NMU and 19-36-5 mark in Marquette.
"We needed a big win, especially against a rival team," Coreau said. "It was pretty important to get that win. Also, I think we have big mo (momentum) back. The guys are feeling pretty good right now."
Tech head coach Mel Pearson, who fell to 0-3 against NMU as head coach of the Huskies, was not feeling as well after the loss.
Northern Michigan 2, Michigan Tech 1
Michigan Tech 0 0 1 - 1
Northern Michigan 1 1 0 - 2
First period - 1, NMU, CJ Ludwig/2 (Ryan Aynsley/2, Stephan Vigier/9) 1:29 (pp).
Second period - 2, NMU, Erik Higby/2 (Darren Nowick/1) 19:44.
Third period - 3, MTU, Brad Stebner/1 (Walker Hyland/1, Malcolm Gould/4) 13:26 (pp). Shots on goal: MTU 3-11-12 26; NMU 10-12-3 25.
Power plays: MTU 1 of 6; NMU 1 of 6.
Penalties: MTU 8 (24 min); NMU 7 (14 min).
Goalies: MTU, Jamie Phillips 0-1-0 (58:51 minutes, 25 shots-23 saves); NMU, Jared Coreau 6-8-3 (60:00, 26-25).
He declined to attend the postgame press conference with local newspaper reporters and U.P. television stations, though USCHO.com was able to catch up with him outside the visiting locker room before he boarded the team bus back to Houghton.
Pearson said he didn't agree that a stick took Coreau down on the play.
"Tanner just sort of clips him, but the guy takes, in my estimation, a dive," Pearson said to USCHO. "Just incidental contact, but I have to defer to the referees."
Prior to talking with USCHO, Pearson blasted the CCHA officiating crew in his postgame interview on the radio home for the Huskies, 93.5 FM WKMJ.
"I'm glad I'm out of the CCHA," said Pearson, who was an assistant at Michigan from 1988-2011. "I'm going to say it. If I get fined, I don't care. It was atrocious. I'm going to call (CCHA director of officials) Steve Piotrowski. Even their coach (NMU's Walt Kyle) said to me after the game, 'You should be happy you're not in the league.' He was referring to the refereeing. It was, let's just say it was not good and I'll stop at that."
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead after the first period and outshot the Huskies 10-3 in the first 20 minutes.
Northern had its first goal waved off after a review showed the puck was kicked past Tech freshman goaltender Jamie Phillips 48 seconds in, but NMU junior defenseman C.J. Ludwig one-timed a power play pass from freshman forward Ryan Aynsley into the back of the Husky net 1:29 into the game to put the 'Cats on top.
NMU junior forward Erik Higby was credited with the Wildcats' second goal with 16 seconds remaining in the second period after an initial surge by freshman forward Darren Nowick, who was credited with an assist on the play.
Junior defenseman Bradley Stebner pulled Tech back within one 13:26 into the third period with assists from freshman defenseman Walker Hyland and freshman forward Malcom Gould, but the Huskies couldn't find the equalizer despite outshooting NMU 12-3 over the final 20 minutes.
"Tonight we got one on the power play and that was a big thing for us," Kyle said. "It was a real good play by Aynsley to Ludwig. We scored early and then we played pretty well with a lead."
Notes: Coreau finished with 25 saves while Phillips stopped 23 shots in his first career start. ... NMU junior forward Stephan Vigier had an assist on the Wildcats first goal. ... NMU senior forward Matt Thurber returned to the Wildcats lineup Tuesday after missing five games due to a suspension - one game from the CCHA for a contact to the head major and four from Kyle for violating a team rule. ... Tech sophomore forward David Johnstone left Tuesday's game in the first period with an injury. ... A pair of freshman forwards, Alex Petan from Tech and Cohen Adair of NMU, ended Part I of the U.P. rivalry with a center ice scrum following the final buzzer. Both were assessed two minutes for grabbing the face mask. ... The Wildcats will take the weekend off after playing three games in five days while Michigan Tech follows up its three games in five days with WCHA road contests at Wisconsin on Friday and Saturday.