Given a reprieve, RFA went out and dominated most of the second period, seizing a 2-1 lead at the 9:45 mark when Mike Seifert pounced upon the rebound of Keegan Richie's shot and put it home before Johnston could react.
Not only were the Black Knights controlling the puck, it was doing a terrific defensive job on C-NS's main line of Eric Hamilton, Jesse Farabee and Matt Fiume, as the trio rarely got any real looks during the first two periods.
Trailing, and getting outworked, C-NS roared out of the gate in the third period, forcing a power play and tying it again when Connor Doren, off crisp passes from Schneid and Keyes, converted with 12:51 left in regulation.
A lot of time remained, and as the third period wore on the Northstars continued to apply pressure. Twice in the last four minutes, Farabee found himself open on the right side for a go-ahead shot, only to have Ross gobble up the puck with glove saves both times.
So the game went to five minutes of overtime. Now it was RFA applying heavy pressure, but one loose slid across the crease untouched with Johnston out of position, and Hamilton made an impressive block of another hard slap shot.
Farabee got one more chance before the horn, but again Ross stopped it, his 22nd save. Johnston finished with 20 saves.
That tie means that C-NS goes in as Division II East's no. 2 seed. If the Northstars win its opening-round home playoff game against Syracuse Friday night at 8:45, it would likely have to travel to Shove Park to face four-time defending champion West Genesee (who will face Watertown IHC in its first-round game) in the semifinals. The title game is Feb. 23 at Utica Memorial Auditorium.
A bizarre turn of events created the match-up with the Cougars. Syracuse originally had finished fourth in Division I West, but moved up a spot (as did Baldwinsville) when second-place Fayetteville-Manlius was disqualified from the sectional tournament for having played one too many games, 21 instead of the maximum 20. Cortland-Homer took F-M's place in the field and now meets RFA in the opening round.