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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Dallas Wiertella
Dallas Wiertella
Multimedia Editor

Through my experience here at the North Wind I have been able to have the privilege of highlighting students through all forms of multimedia journalism. Whether I'm in front or behind the camera, I aim...

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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.

NMU CARES — President Brock Tessman shares his feelings on the universitys new CARE Team. Photo Courtesy of Northern Michigan University
Letter to the Editor — Our New CARE Team
Brock TessmanFebruary 23, 2024

Wildcats tie Wolverines twice on road

In the midst of a heated playoff race, the NMU Wildcats headed down to Ann Arbor last weekend and hoped to return to Marquette with two valuable points. After a pair of 3-3 ties-each worth one point in the standings-the ‘Cats had achieved their goal.

“We’re very much in the hunt and every point we can get is at a premium,” Wildcat head coach Walt Kyle said. “To be able to get points down there is very important to us and it’s also an extremely difficult building for teams to get points in. There will be a lot of teams that get nothing out of there.”

With regards to team confidence, some felt that the ties may have been more important than a win.

“I think it’s even bigger to get two ties,” sophomore NMU forward Matt Butcher said. “A lot of times when you split with a team [on the road], they can beat you up pretty bad in the first game and then you can come back and get a win. If you tie them twice, that means that you were in it both games when they are coming hard at you.”

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For Michigan (22-3-3 overall, 15-2-3 CCHA), the two ties-combined with a poor showing against Michigan State the previous weekend-mark the first four-game winless streak the Wolverines have suffered since February of 2006.

Kyle was also impressed that his team, which held the high-scoring Wolverines to just three goals per game, were able to post six weekend goals as well. Heading into the series, NMU (10-15-3, 7-11-2) was averaging just over two goals per contest.

“To score three each night was a good thing for us,” he said. “You’re not going to beat that team by letting them get a lot of goals.”

Butcher contributed heavily to that offensive success, picking up two goals and one assist on the weekend. His linemates, junior Matt Siddall and sophomore Ray Kaunisto, added a goal and two more assists.

“They produced every night and I thought they were a good line,” Kyle said of the group. “They controlled play at times and I thought they were solid.”

A bit of recent tweaking may have made the difference for the line.

“I’ve been playing with Ray all year and adding [Siddall] to our line is definitely a jump,” Butcher said. “He’s a big strong guy that holds onto the puck and we get along really well. Hopefully things keep clicking like that.”

The series marked the second time that the Wildcats have faced off with the Wolverines this season. NMU dropped two home games to Michigan back in October and the two ties in Michigan’s Yost Ice Arena can only be seen as improvement for the ‘Cats.

“I think it also shows that we’ve come a little ways since the beginning of the year,” Kyle said. “We lost to them twice in this building and we go down to that building, which is arguably one of the toughest environments in college hockey, and we were able to get some points.”

Aside from NMU, the only team to post any sustained success against the Wolverines was the Michigan State Spartans (18-6-5, 14-3-3), who won one and tied won the previous weekend. This weekend, the Wildcats will get their shot at the Spartans as well.

This season, junior Spartan goaltender Jeff Lerg has a .923 save percentage and been in the crease for 96 percent of a possible 1767 minutes. His strong play, coupled with a solid Michigan State defense, will give the Wildcats a very different challenge than Michigan.

“They’re both good teams, but they both play a little bit different dynamic,” Kyle said. “Michigan wants to get up and down all night with you. MSU wants to play a more controlled game. They’re much better on the cycle in your end and are a very dangerous power play team.”

In October, the Spartans beat the Wildcats twice, 5-4 and 3-2. Those games were in East Lansing, though, and this weekend’s games will be in Marquette. With the CCHA playoffs now clearly in sight, the ‘Cats know that they need points every weekend and that every game becomes even more important.

“This is a huge series,” Dorich said. “At the beginning of the season, we went down to their rink and lost two to them. These are huge games for us. We’re all gearing toward the playoffs right now and these are huge points for us.”

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