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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Chloe Everson
Chloe Everson
Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Chloe and I am a fourth-year senior here at NMU. I am a Public Relations major and have always enjoyed sports. I love being outdoors, shopping, and drinking coffee at all hours of the...

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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.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics
Women’s spring soccer comes to an end this weekend
Lily Gouin April 19, 2024

Wolverines up next on path to NCAA

This weekend, the Northern Michigan Wildcats will step off the bus and into a familiar building: Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.

The Joe will play host to the final two rounds of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) Playoffs and the ‘Cats (19-19-4 overall, 12-3-3 CCHA) will be in town for the seventh time in eight seasons, after failing to advance to the conference semi-final round a year ago.

“There is a sense of excitement,” said sophomore NMU forward Matt Butcher. “It’s been a rollercoaster ride this whole season. To get this far is good, but we expect to [win] the whole thing and we’re not just satisfied with what we’ve accomplished so far.”

NMU’s roller coaster ride, which started more than five months ago, has included a 1-7 start to the year, a selection of victories over some of the nation’s top-ranked teams and losses to Wayne State and the U.S. Under-18 team. Now the ‘Cats are just two victories away from their first conference championship in more than 15 years.

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On Friday night, NMU will face off against the No. 1 Michigan Wolverines (29-5-4, 20-4-4). The game will mark the fifth time that the two teams have played this season. In October, Michigan swept NMU in Marquette, while the teams tied twice in a February series in Ann Arbor.

“Going down to [Ann Arbor] a few weeks back and tying them both games was definitely good for us, because we know we can skate with that team,” sophomore defenseman T.J. Miller said. “We can play with them. We just have to limit those one or two things that would let them get goals in. If we can do that, we’ll be alright.”

Miller and the other defensemen may have their work cut out for them against the Wolverines, who have the nation’s second-best scoring offense (3.97 goals per game). During last weekend’s two victories over Michigan State, the Wildcat defense killed 14 of 15 Spartan power plays and blocked numerous shots before they ever reached the net.

“We’re going to have to keep doing it, especially against Michigan,” Miller said about NMU’s defense. “They have a very good power play and offense, so anything that we can block and [goaltender Brian Stewart] doesn’t have to see is good for us.”

Stewart, a sophomore, has proven that he can be more than efficient when needed. In the four Wildcat playoff wins, Stewart has allowed just six goals on 148 shots.

Although the first two rounds of the CCHA Playoffs are best-of-three series, the tournament becomes single elimination once it reaches the Joe. Despite winning series against Ohio State and Michigan State in the past two weeks, the Wildcats have lost both Friday night games.

“I’ve never been worried. It’s never that the guys weren’t mentally ready or weren’t prepared,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “We’re playing good opponents. Every team we’ve played is a good opponent and capable of beating us.”

In fact, Kyle said, the single elimination playoff format may benefit NMU this weekend.

“The fact is that I like our chances against a high-end opponent better in a one-game deal than I would winning two out of three,” Kyle said. “We have a better chance to knock Michigan off in one game than we do in two-out-of-three. I like it flipping now to one game.”

Friday’s other semi-final matchup is between the No. 3 Miami Red Hawks and the No. 11 Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The winners of the semi-final games will face off on Saturday night with the CCHA Championship on the line, while the losers will play a consolation game beforehand.

The team that wins the conference tournament gets an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament, which starts on March 28.

And as the Wildcats prepare for the upcoming weekend, they know what is at stake. After 42 games, the roller coaster ride is nearing an end. And the Northern Michigan Wildcats stand just two wins away from a CCHA Championship.

“In the last half of the season, we have kind of turned things around. A big reason for that is that we came together so much as a team,” Miller said, considering the chances of a conference title. “Why not us? We can play with the best teams in the country, so why not?”

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