Injured freshman Darren Nowick fires surprise game-winner for Northern Michigan against No. 6 Miami
MARQUETTE – After scoring the game-winning goal 3:06 into the third period on Friday of the 2-1 CCHA victory over the No. 6-ranked Miami RedHawks, Northern Michigan University freshman forward Darren Nowick told the small gathering of media and Blue Line Club members his injured wrist was “feeling good right now” and “petty good for the game” thanks to the holiday break, precautions in practice and a good tape job.
NMU head coach Walt Kyle disagreed with Nowick’s medical opinion, however. Nowick is not healthy, Kyle said.
How does he know? Well, according to Kyle, Nowick is shooting like the opposite of his gender at the moment.
“He is not healthy,” Kyle said. “He’s as healthy as he is going to get this year.
“Truthfully, he shoots the puck right now like a woman compared to how he shot it earlier in the year when his hand was healthy. When he gets that back, which won’t be until next year, it will certainly be a big plus.”
If Nowick’s game-winning shot Friday night at the Berry Events Center did in fact resemble that of a women, than female hockey players across the country should take Kyle’s words as a compliment, not a slight.
Nowick passed up a chance on his game-winner to dish to trailing sophomore forward DJ Vandercook. Instead, Nowick rifled his shot from the end line over the shoulder of Miami goalie Jay Williams, finding the inside of the far post’s twine right on the top shelf.
“I saw the goalie cheating pretty bad, so I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best,” Nowick said. “It went in.
“The D was starting to fall down to block the pass. I figured I’d try it out and it worked.”
The goal not only caught Miami off guard, but Kyle too. The NMU coach didn’t think Nowick had the ability to rip a shot like that considering the Long Beach, Calif., native was playing with an injured wrist.
“I was actually really surprised he ripped that thing like he did,” Kyle said. “He’s a tremendous young player and he adds a lot to our lineup.”
The score was the second time Nowick used his speed Friday to not only beat the RedHawk defense, but set up his own scoring opportunity.
His initial chance came in the first period. He wound up on the doorstep of Williams, but he came up empty.
“He makes a huge difference,” Kyle said. “One thing he gives us is tremendous speed. He’s an aggressive player. He hunts down pucks loose pucks.”
Nowick has appeared in 15 games now as a freshman for NMU and enters tonight’s 7:35 p.m. rematch against Miami at the BEC with three goals and two assists.
The 5-foot-10, 192-pound Nowick is likely to be matched up once again as a winger with two of the Wildcats biggest forwards up front in 6-2, 207-pound freshman wing Cohen Adair and 6-2, 200-pound center Mitch Jones, who recently converted from defenseman to forward.
The trio finished the game a combined minus-2 with Nowick being even and his linemates each being minus-1.
“That was really a good line through the first two (periods), and then I think in the third it got broken up penalty-wise a little bit and I didn’t think they were as efficient,” Kyle said.
Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/mattwellens