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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

November, with OSU’s Bucks in sight

Looking to pick up its first win in over a month, the Northern Michigan hockey team welcomes CCHA-foe Ohio State to the Berry Events Center for a two-game weekend series.

It will be the first time the Wildcats and the Buckeyes have met since NMU knocked OSU out of the first round of the CCHA tournament last season.

Currently, NMU’s record sits at 2-7-1 (1-6-1-0 CCHA). A year ago, the Wildcats were 1-8, and went on to finish strong with a win in the third-place game at the CCHA Championships.

Head coach Walt Kyle said, though this season has been a tough one, the play during the first stretch of games isn’t as bad as it was last season.

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“This year, we’re 2-7-1 and we haven’t played that bad. We haven’t played that bad, we just haven’t found a way to get it done,” Kyle said.

“I’m not insinuating that I’m OK with it,” he added. “I am not happy with it. I’m not happy with our record.”

Last weekend, the Wildcats were swept by Bowling Green State University for the first time since January 2003. Both nights, the ‘Cats fell by just one goal, and on Friday night, NMU led for most of three periods until a late-third-period goal and an early overtime goal gave NMU the 2-1 loss.

Through the weekend, NMU junior goaltender Brian Stewart faced 93 shots, and turned aside 89 of them. In Friday night’s overtime game, Stewart had a career-high in saves, with 48.

Of CCHA goalies, only Jeff Lerg (284) has stopped more shots than Stewart, who has 280 saves on the season. And despite not picking up a win last weekend, Stewart was honored by the CCHA for his standout performance; NMU’s netminder was named CCHA goaltender of the week after picking up the second star of both Friday and Saturday night’s games.

“It was just like guys were just coming down and shooting it,” Stewart said. “I felt good all weekend. I don’t mind those kind of games.”

Stewart’s head coach said, though there were problems on the team, none of them had anything to do with the goaltender.

“There hasn’t been any problems with Stewie,” Kyle said. “He’s been rock solid.”

The Wildcats scored two goals over the weekend, both courtesy of sophomore forward Greger Hanson.

Hanson now leads all NMU scorers with six points, on two goals and four assists.

“I think we played pretty bad Friday night, to be honest,” Hanson said about the BGSU series. “But, we took a step Saturday, and hopefully we can build off that and get Ohio State.”

Of Hanson’s goals, Saturday’s was officially a power play marker, while Friday night’s goal came seconds after a Northern power play had concluded. The goal with the extra attacker broke NMU’s 0 for 34 streak of unsuccessful power play opportunities.

“What I liked, was the same guy got both goals from the same spot,” Kyle said. “And, potentially we’ve found a spot there for Gregor, where he can be effective and have some offense.”

When compared to last season’s offensive stats, this year’s team is five goals off from the previous, reiterating the fact that the offense is still an area of this year’s team that Kyle is hoping will turn around.

“It’s still a big problem, which I didn’t perceive was going to be a problem going into the year,” he said. “We thought we had the people in place that had the ability to score and that would score, and to this point, they haven’t done that.”

Ohio State will be bringing a 5-5-1 overall record (3-4-1-1 CCHA) to Marquette this weekend, along with a three-game winning streak, with wins coming against Michigan State and Robert Morris.

The Buckeyes leading scorer is freshman forward Zac Dalpe, a Carolina Hurricanes draft pick, who is 13th in the CCHA in scoring, with 10 points (6-4-10) in 11 games. Tied with him is senior forward Corey Elkins (4-6-10).

One aspect of the Wildcat team that was worked on in preparation for BGSU was the team’s aggressiveness. Although it wasn’t until Saturday night, the Wildcats came out more aggressive than they did on Friday. According to junior defenseman TJ Miller, they’ll have to be even more aggressive this weekend against Ohio State.

“This weekend, we’re going to have to be even more physical, because we always play Ohio State physical,” Miller said.

“We’ve had a pretty good rivalry, beating them in the last two playoffs.”

Miller added that, even though the Wildcats looked forward to a winning season this time around, now the team will have to simply concern themselves with what’s ahead.

“It’s just a little bit of a grind right now. Just like last year, we went through it,” he said.

“We didn’t want to go through it this year, but we are. There’s nothing much we can do about it now, except to just practice harder, show up everyday and try to compete against ourselves, and make ourselves better. We’ll worry about the weekend when it comes.”

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