An equalizing goal was missed by the officials and a line brawl as time expired marred a Halloween thriller between rivals Northern Michigan University and Northern Illinois. The Huskies held on to win 4-3.
Needing a score with 2:36 left, Jae Woo Kim scored over NIU goalie Alex Hare’s right shoulder. The puck hit the net twice – once on the top, once in the back — then bounced out. The goal was called by everybody but the officiating crew.
The missed goal was the final straw in a frustrating game as a Nick Leon crashed hard into Northern goalie Jeff Ryan. Ryan had to be attended to by the trainer, but no penalty was assessed against Leon. The contact was similar to contact made by Wolff Bellanger in the second period. Bellanger was given a goalie interference call, despite scoring a goal on the play. After a brief scrum, NMU Head Coach Carl Trosien was ejected for arguing the call and Dallas McLaughlin was ejected for fighting with Leon.
Linesman Jordan Edwards was the major problem on the ice. In addition to mishandling the explanation of the goalie interference call that sent Trosien off, he saw the goal and didn’t call it after the head referee was screened by a cutting player. He also missed three offsides and failed to effectively break up the many fights in the heated rivalry.
The teams combined for 52 minutes of penalties in the third period, with 50 of those minutes from majors, ejections and misconducts.
The Wildcats hit the scoreboard first when Jeff Nolfo took Mclaughlin’s pass for the lead. Matthew Gould would quickly tie it up, but a power play goal from Kevin McNab gave the NMU the lead heading into the first intermission.
Northern Michigan had a fiery start to the second period, with four shots in the first two minutes, but only one was on goal.
A scuffle between NMU’s Alex Warenka and Max Finley set up an extended special team. Warenka was sent off. Another NIU penalty set up over four minutes of 4-on-4 hockey.
The special teams time allowed Bellanger to score his goal, but the penalty gave Leon the chance to retie the contest. He gave the Huskies the lead with 33.9 seconds and recorded his first hat trick of the season.
NIU’s second-line center Anthony Ricciardi was injured and sat out the rest of the game. Ricciardi was third in points for the Huskies before the weekend started. He is questionable for tomorrow.
The rivals will finish their two-game series tomorrow at the Berry Events Center. Puck drops at 1 p.m..