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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.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas Wiertella April 30, 2024

Hockey finishes third in CCHA tourney

The NMU hockey team wrapped up its season this weekend, finishing in third place in the CCHA Championships.

The team fell 2-1 to Notre Dame in the quarterfinal game on Friday, before rebounding to beat Alaska 2-0 in the third-place game on Saturday.

In the Friday game, NMU gave up an early power play goal to Irish forward Kyle Lawson. The ‘Cats regained their composure, however, and held the Irish scoreless until the end of the third period.

With 1:23 left in the game, and Northern goalie Brian Stewart pulled, junior Nick Sirota blasted a shot past Notre Dame goalkeeper Jordan Pearce to even the score at one. Sophomores Erik Gustafsson and Jared Brown were credited with assists on the goal.

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The Wildcats’ joy was short lived though, as the Irish drove the puck down ice off of the ensuing faceoff and scored the go-ahead goal with one minute left.

Despite the loss, head coach Walt Kyle said he was happy with the way his team played against the top-ranked Irish.

“We kept the game against Notre Dame tight. We turned it into the kind of game that we wanted it to become,” he said. “We were able to score late and tie the game against a very good hockey team. Unfortunately for us we had a couple of breakdowns right after that and they were able to score and win the game.”

The following afternoon the Wildcats faced off against the Alaska Nanooks in the consolation game.

Kyle said the consolation game is always tough for teams to play in.

“It’s a tough game to play because there was nothing at stake for us,” he said. “It was an opportunity for us to get some kids some ice time that they may have not gotten throughout the year. It’s an opportunity to send the seniors out on a good note and again, I thought the guys responded well.”

In the game against Alaska, Kyle opted to play junior Derek Janzen in goal over starting goaltender Brian Stewart.

Sirota and freshman Tyler Gron each scored goals in the 2-0 victory. For Sirota it was his seventh goal in as many playoff games.

“Nick Sirota has five goals during the regular season, and then he has seven goals in seven playoff games,” Kyle said. “He really responded and had a great playoffs.”

With the season behind them Kyle said his attention now shifts to focusing on next season. Kyle said he expects the team, which is graduating only four seniors, to compete for an NCAA Tournament berth next year.

“I think right now we are one of those teams that should be competing every year,” Kyle said. “We were almost there this year, a couple of those games that we lost, where we were right there (are the difference). I think moving forward into next year it’s a reasonable goal for sure.”

Joining the team next year is a small but talented group of recruits headlined by local recruit Chad Pietila who has played his junior hockey in Marquette.

Pietila has scored 60 points this season for the Marquette Rangers.

Kyle underplayed the importance of next year’s class on the immediate success of the program.

“Our future will not be determined by the new guys,” Kyle said. “It will be determined by the guys who are returning.”

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