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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Opinion-- A list of regrets before I graduate
Sal WiertellaMarch 1, 2024

NMU falls to top-ranked RedHawks

The Northern Michigan hockey team fell in back-to-back games last weekend to the No. 1 Miami RedHawks, 9-2 and 3-2.

After the blowout on Friday night, the Wildcats came out on Saturday and jumped out to a 2-0 first-period lead. The RedHawks managed three unanswered power play goals in the final 40 minutes, though, and won going away.

“They’re the No. 1 team in the country, and they definitely showed it Friday and Saturday, in two different ways,” senior NMU forward Matt Siddall said. “They are an exceptional team and they’re going to be one of the best teams in the country all year long.”

Northern (1-7-0 overall, 0-6-0 Central Collegiate Hockey Association) knew that Miami (8-0-0, 6-0-0) was going to come in firing, but were still a bit surprised at the skill of the RedHawks.

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“We made a number of really bad mistakes in real critical areas of the ice,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We left the front of our net open numerous times and there were just guys standing there all alone with our goaltender. It was a series of mistakes and we weren’t able to stop the bleeding.”

The RedHawks have now out-scored their opponents 40-12 on the season and are averaging five goals per game without the help of forward Nathan Davis, who is arguably their best player. Davis is currently out with an arm injury.

“That first night, they were scary-good,” sophomore Wildcat defenseman T.J. Miller said. “They obviously know how to put the puck in the net and they showed it to us.”

NMU made a few adjustments between nights, however, and the ‘Cats were able to do a much better job of blocking Miami’s shooting lanes and limiting RedHawk opportunities on Saturday.

Saturday’s goals came from Siddall and junior forward Nick Sirota. Both were shorthanded tallies and came during a 59-second span in the first period to put the ‘Cats up by a pair.

“Siddall’s best game of the year was on Saturday night,” Kyle said. “And we need him to do that more often and very consistently if we’re going to be good.”

Siddall currently has two goals and two assists while Sirota leads the team with five goals and nine total points.

Friday night’s goals were netted by freshman forward Gregor Hanson and Siddall, who had three points on the weekend.

A Fresh Face

The Wildcats also made another major change heading into Saturday’s game.

After sophomore goalies Brian Stewart and Derek Janzen allowed nine goals on 30 Miami shots on Friday, freshman netminder Reid Ellingson stepped into the crease the following night.

The minutes were the first that the 18-year-old Ellingson had ever played at the collegiate level.

“We just decided it was time,” Kyle said. “We’d been giving Reid his time to get adapted to college hockey in practice. We’ve been going with those other guys and they just haven’t found a way to get over the top. We put Reid in and I thought he was outstanding.”

Ellingson faced 32 shots in the game and allowed just three goals, all on the power play. His .906 save percentage currently ranks first among Wildcat goaltenders.

“It’s the kind of thing you dream about growing up,” Ellingson said after the game. “I got my chance tonight and I just wanted to give the team a good effort.”

And while Miami’s nine-goal Friday night could be attributed more to poor defensive play than to poor goaltending, the NMU defense came to play on Saturday night. The close loss was a tough one for the ‘Cats.

“We just came out and we played great and we rallied behind an 18-year-old kid that stood on his head and gave us every opportunity to win the game,” Siddall said. “Those ones hurt big-time.”

After putting forth a solid effort against the nation’s top team in his first college game, Reid can hope to see more time in the Wildcat net in the future.

In fact, Ellingson should be between the pipes on Friday night, as the Wildcats prepare to take on the Western Michigan Broncos.

“If you perform like that, we’re going to continue to go with you,” said Kyle, who talked about the importance of consistency at the goalie position.

“Right now it’s Reid, but we want somebody to take that job. I think that will be a big step for our team.”

Downhill from here

Through the first month of the regular season, Northern has played eight games against five of the country’s top-ranked teams, including No. 1 Miami, No . 2 Michigan and No .3 Michigan State.

The Wildcats’ nightmare stretch is over, though, and they don’t have to worry about a ranked team again until they square off with No. 13 Michigan Tech on Dec. 14.

Despite the winless conference record, the Wildcats feel that the beginning of the season has been beneficial.

“For the younger players, they got some of the best experience they could ever get in those first ten games,” Sirota said.

Despite the fact that the young NMU squad has competed well with some of the country’s top teams, the Wildcats can’t afford to overlook Western Michigan (2-4-0, 0-2-0) this weekend.

Kyle said that although last year’s 15-24-2 record was disappointing, the losses to big-name team weren’t the worst.

What really hurt the Wildcats, in the end, were the games that they dropped to the mediocre teams, such as Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan.

“Those were the games that turned what could have been a pretty good season into a not-so-good season,” Kyle said. “We have to take care of business. They are still very good teams and they are capable of beating us and we have to show up and play.”

freshman forward Gregor Hanson and Siddall, who had three points on the weekend.

A Fresh Face

The Wildcats also made another major change heading into Saturday’s game.

After sophomore goalies Brian Stewart and Derek Janzen allowed nine goals on 30 Miami shots on Friday, freshman netminder Reid Ellingson stepped into the crease the following night.

The minutes were the first that the 18-year-old Ellingson had ever played at the collegiate level.

“We just decided it was time,” Kyle said. “We’d been giving Reid his time to get adapted to college hockey in practice. We’ve been going with those other guys and they just haven’t found a way to get over the top. We put Reid in and I thought he was outstanding.”

Ellingson faced 32 shots in the game and allowed just three goals, all on the power play. His .906 save percentage currently ranks first among Wildcat goaltenders.

“It’s the kind of thing you dream about growing up,” Ellingson said after the game. “I got my chance tonight and I just wanted to give the team a good effort.”

Friday night could be attributed more to poor defensive play than to poor goaltending,but the NMU defense came to play on Saturday night. The close loss was a tough one for the ‘Cats.

“We just came out and we played great and we rallied behind an 18-year-old kid that stood on his head and gave us every opportunity to win the game,” Siddall said. “Those ones hurt big-time.”

After putting forth a solid effort against the nation’s top team in his first college game Reid can only hope to see more time in the Wildcat net in the future.

In fact, Ellingson should be between the pipes on Friday night, as the Wildcats prepare to take on the Western Michigan Broncos.

“If you perform like that, we’re going to continue to go with you,” said Kyle, who talked about the importance of consistency at the goalie position.

“Right now it’s Reid, but we want somebody to take that job. I think that will be a big step for our team.”

Downhill from here

Through the first month of the regular season, Northern has played eight games against five of the country’s top-ranked teams, including No.1 Miami, No.2 Michigan and No .3 Michigan State.

The Wildcats’ nightmare stretch is over, though, and they don’t have to worry about a ranked team again until they square off with No. 13 Michigan Tech on Dec. 14.

Despite the winless conference record, the Wildcats feel that the beginning of the season has been beneficial.

“For the younger players, they got some of the best experience they could ever get in those first ten games,” Sirota said.

In light of the fact that the young NMU squad has competed well with some of the country’s top teams, the Wildcats can’t afford to overlook Western Michigan (2-4-0, 0-2-0) this weekend.

Kyle said that although last year’s 15-24-2 record was disappointing, the losses to big-name team’s weren’t the worst.

What really hurt the Wildcats, in the end, was were the games that they dropped to the mediocre teams, such as Lake Superior State, Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth and Western Michigan.

“Those were the games that turned what could have been a pretty good season into a not-so-good season,” Kyle said. “We have to take care of business. They are still very good teams and they are capable of beating us and we have to show up and play.”

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