This article was previously printed in the Oct. 8 edition of the Mining Journal
Entering the 2007-2008 season, the NMU hockey team was hoping to find a way to make up for the loss of 70 goals.
That’s how many tallies last year’s departing class accounted for.
On Sunday night at the Berry Events Center, the ‘Cats made strides in that direction, scoring eight goals on the visiting University of Toronto in an exhibition game, en route to a 8-0 victory.
“It’s certainly not a Division 1 college game.But it serves a purpose,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said.
Kyle said Sunday’s game gave the NMU coaching staff an opportunity to evaluate the players and to condition them and to, “hopefully get better tactically.”
The Wildcat team that took to the Berry Events Center ice looked very different from last year’s squad, with 13 ‘Cats seeing their first action in an NMU uniform. The newcomers posted four of the Wildcat’s 8 goals on Sunday: two coming from freshman Mark Olver, one from freshman Jared Brown and one from sophomore transfer Billy Smith.
Olver, the brother of departed wildcat Darin Olver, added two assists in the game, as well.
“My brother’s a really good player. Just hopefully I can do as good as he did,” Mark said. “Hopefully I can just follow in his footsteps as close as possible and have as good a year as he did [last year].”
The NMU head coach said one goal for this year’s team was to increase the shots on goal. Kyle’s team responded by putting 36 shots on goal in the game.
“I was really happy with some of the performances offensively,” Kyle said. “Especially the young guys.”
Another new player picking up a goal on Sunday is the sophomore, Smith, who was picked to be a team captain earlier in the week. Smith comes to NMU by way of University of Alaska Anchorage, and sat out last season because of NCAA rules concerning transfers.
“It was just nice to get back on the ice, playing with the guys and having the comraderie,” he said. “I had a great time out there tonight, and so did everyone else.”
Smith, who scored late in the second period, added that he couldn’t believe the amount of penalties in the game,
The exhibition game saw 26 penalties totaling 63 minutes, including a game misconduct on Toronto’s Mark Delost.
“I think [the penalties] really helped us, because a bunch of guys got to work on the power play who wouldn’t get the opportunity to normally,” he said. “I think it really just put us a step forward as far as power play goes.”
Smith said the exhibition game was useful to the ‘Cats in a variety of ways.
“We’ve got to get better ever single time we hit the ice,” he said. “This is a good conditioning game for us, and obviously it puts guys in game situations and it’s just a good building block for us.”
The remainder of the Wildcat scoring came from junior Tim Hartung, junior Derek May and two goals from senior Andrew Sarauer.
Sophomore Brian Stewart started in goal for the Wildcats, stopping six shots for the game. In the second period, Stewart was replaced by fellow sophomore Derek Janzen.
“[Janzen] certainly paid his dues last year, went back to juniors and made a real effort to come back, and I owe him the opportunity to get in the net,” Kyle said.
Kyle said, overall, he was happy with the talent he saw in the game.
“We have a lot of guys that have a lot of talent,” Kyle said. “The issue is, when are they going to be ready to contribute and use that talent in tough, hard-won games?
“If we learn to play together, and play solid defensively, some of that talent is going to come to the surface quicker, and we’re going to be able to be a good team.”
Kyle added that he didn’t know whether or not this year’s Wildcat team would, in fact, be a good team.
“But, in that room right now,” Kyle motioned toward the locker room. “The talent to be a good team is in that room.”
NMU 8, TORONTO 0
First period – 1. NMU, Tim Hartung, (Jared Brown, Erik Gustafsson), 05:05; 2. NMU, Mark Olver, (Hartung, Blake Cosgrove), ppg., 13:06; 3. NMU, Brown, (Olver, Derek May), 13:12; 4. NMU, Olver, (Brown, Erik Spady), 15:58
Second period – 5. Andrew Sarauer, (Cosgrove, Hartung), 02:47; 6. Sarauer, (Olver, TJ Miller), ppg., 13:50; 7. Billy Smith, (Sarauer, Cosgrove), ppg., 16:47
Third period – 8. May, (Matt Butcher, Spady), 15:01
Power-play opportunities: NMU, 3-15; TORONTO, 0-8
Penalties: NMU, 9-18; TORONTO, 17-45
Goalie saves: NMU, Brian Stewart (6), Derek Janzen (10); TORONTO, Andrew Martin (28)