To say that this season has been a rollercoaster ride for fans of the NMU hockey team would be an understatement.
At the outset of the season, the team was ranked in the top 20 nationally in the USCHO poll, and opened the season with a resounding 5-3 win over Michigan Tech. The team then followed this with a win over top five team Michigan. Things were looking up for the Wildcats.
With these high expectations, fans flocked to the Berry Events Center early in the season. In the opening game against Tech, more than 4,000 fans showed up. The following weekend, 3,800 and 4,000 fans showed up. What’s more, these fans didn’t just show up and sit on their hands. The Berry was as loud for those three games as I have ever heard in my five years at Northern. It was an exciting time to be a Wildcat fan.
However, the team soon faltered, and halfway through the season the team had amassed a pitiful 3-12-3 record. With the lackluster play from such a highly anticipated team, it was no surprise that the fans stopped flocking to the arena. At the low point of the season, only 1,900 people showed up to watch the ‘Cats take on Ferris State University. The energy had been sucked out of the Berry Events Center.
Now, however, the Wildcats have turned their season around and earned a spot in the CCHA finals at the Joe Louis Arena this weekend, March 18-19. The team has gone 15-4-2 in 2009 and now is 23rd in votes in the USCHO national rankings.
Moreover, if Northern does keep it’s Cinderella streak alive and win the CCHA Championship, they would receive an auto-bid to the NCAA Tournament – the first in over a decade.
It is time for us fans to get back to being the ravenous horde of Wildcat-supporting yahoos we were at the start of the season.
For those who do not have weekend plans, I encourage you to travel to Detroit to watch the team compete. Northern’s Athletics Department has even arranged for a bus to take students to the games. The trip (which includes game tickets and bus fare) costs only $55 per person and can be reserved by calling the Athletic Department at 906-227-2105.
For those who are stuck in Marquette with prior engagements, the Friday night game against Notre Dame will be broadcast on Fox Sports-Detroit. Students should make the most of this opportunity and make it a community event. Flock to your sports bar of choice (assuming you are of legal drinking age) or gather up your friends – and try your hardest to convince non-sports fans to join you – and head to the nearest dormitory television room.
An NMU hockey game only gets broadcast on Fox Sports so often. A televised CCHA playoff game with Northern in it happens even less often. As students, we need to make the most of this opportunity and support Wildcat hockey.
It is our duty as fans to create an atmosphere of excitement, both at the game and around campus – we cannot fail to fulfill this duty.