NMU’s possible visitors at BEC

kyle.whitney

For the first time in almost two years, the Northern Michigan Wildcat hockey team will host a first-round CCHA Playoff series in the Berry Events Center March 7-9.

After clinching the home series this past weekend, the ‘Cats are now playing to determine their final positioning in the CCHA. With 26 points, they are in a four-way tie with Bowling Green, Ferris State and the University of Nebraska-Omaha.

NMU faces off against the LSSU Lakers this weekend, while Nebraska-Omaha has completed their CCHA schedule. Bowling Green takes on the No. 6 Michigan State Spartans and Ferris State will play the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines. The tough road that the other two teams must travel could open the door for NMU to slide up to fifth or sixth place by the start of the playoffs.

“Anywhere up there-fifth or sixth-would be quite an accomplishment for us, in my opinion,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We started 0-7 in the league, so to be able to finish in the top half of the league would be great.”

The Wildcat skaters, many of whom have never played in a postseason game in Marquette, are looking forward to the second season.

“Obviously, every team in the league is a real good team, so whoever we end up playing, it will be a good game,” said sophomore Alan Dorich.

If the Wildcats can finish the season in fifth, they will host the Western Michigan Broncos in the upcoming best-of-three series. Other possible first round opponents are Alaska, Ohio State and LSSU. The ‘Cats hold a combined 5-3 record against those four teams this season.

“Playoff-wise, you can’t really pick your poison and it doesn’t make a lot of difference who we play,” Kyle said. “We have to get our game in order, and our house in order, and have success in the playoffs.”

There are 19 underclassmen on the NMU roster and they are not yet well-versed in college playoff hockey. Despite the fact that there are just three seniors on the team, those players will be looked to for leadership heading into playoffs.

“We just need to lead by example,” senior forward Matt Siddall said. “It’s not always going to be words and it’s not always going to be talking in the room or chirping up. Sometimes you’ve just got to shut your mouth and you’ve got to go down there and you’ve got to play.”

— Kyle Whitney