Men’s club hockey to host third Wildcat Invitational Tournament

Laura Conway

The NMU men’s club hockey team will open up the season with their third annual Wildcat Invitational Hockey Tournament.

Junior Brad Gicopoulos said the team is excited about their upcoming season.

“There are 10 rookies who are competing for line space and playing time. We are very excited to see this much enthusiasm.  The chemistry between the lines we have are solid and we are looking forward,” Gicopoulos said.

Gicopoulos came in as a rookie to the club hockey team last year but still managed to become the top scorer, earning 23 goals and 40 points.  He worked hard over the summer and has come back knowing what to expect and is ready to tackle this upcoming season.

“We want to build on last year, but now I know what to expect and this year I came a little more prepared,” Gicopoulos said.

Last year’s season ended rough as the team played their weakest opponents after the regional tournament. The wins against the weaker teams would have raised the teams rankings, allowing NMU to make the regional championships.

“My goal is to make regionals by beating good and ranked teams.  The American Collegiate Hockey Association chooses who goes to regionals.  Out of 200 teams we’ve ranked 16th the last two years, we need to be top ten to make it,” said Michalak said.

Michalak also mentions that hard season is almost like having a job.  There are late-night practices and every weekend involves traveling or competing, and Michalak said a lot of players do not have the funding to stick with it since there are no scholarships for club hockey.

“We lost some of last year’s players due to lack of financial support.  But we brought in some good rookies with great defense that are already developing chemistry so the lines are strong…we have a really dedicated group of guys this year, we should be a solid team to compete against,” Michalak said.

Gicopoulos agreed saying that the players who stay dedicated to the club team are there for the sport and that dedication  will help them win matches.

“For the love of hockey, not getting scholarships to play … we lose a bunch of people who can’t play because they can’t afford it,” Gicopoulos said.

The hockey team is very excited about the upcoming season. They have been invited to the prestigious American Collegiate Hockey Association Showcase in Youngstown, Ohio.  The showcase is by invitation only and of the over 200 teams in the association, the NMU Wildcat Club Hockey team was selected.

“We will be playing at the ACHA showcase in Youngstown, Ohio.  We weren’t in it last year; they take what they think is the best team is the country, and we didn’t get invited.  This year we were invited, and we get to play amazing teams like Michigan State,” Gicopoulos said.

The Wildcat Men’s Club Hockey team plays on Friday Sept. 17 at 8:10 p.m. against Delta College, Saturday Sept. 18  against Saint Norbert College and Michigan Tech at 9:50 a.m. and 7:40 p.m. respectively.