The men’s club hockey team at NMU has had a very up and down year, with both winning and losing streaks throughout the 2010-2011 season.
Coming into their last series this weekend, the team has an overall record of 12-18 and an away record of 3-11.
This past weekend, away at Robert Morris College, the team split the series winning Friday Feb. 11, 4-2, only to lose Saturday, Feb. 12, 1-4.
Freshman Mike Baudino said the team played really well, but they had a little trouble with the referees.
“It feels good to get a winning streak going, especially coming off a losing streak,” he said. “I felt pretty good in Chicago, the second game wasn’t as good because the referees weren’t calling a fair game.”
Baudino said there were some unfair calls that landed them in the penalty box more often than they are used to.
“There were a couple hits that were called interference when we had the puck and elbows called on kids that were five inches taller than us. There is no way that happened,” Baudino said.
Sophomore goalie Michael O’Connell attributed the loss in the second game to the fact that the team had been spending a lot of time a man down.
“We ended up getting a lot of penalties due to frustration; the penalties wore us down. They were a good team and we always get a good game with Grand Valley. They fight hard, but so did we,” O’Connell said.
Even though the second game was a loss, he still thinks the team did well.
“Matt Kapushinski kept us in the game, though, and that kept us in and motivated,” O’Connell said.
Rookie Joe Morabito said he was excited to see his team play so well together.
“We definitely outplayed the team in both games. Everybody played a good game and did really well as a team, despite missing a lot of guys,” Morabito said.
Morabito said it was the last period of the second game, when the team was a man down was when they took advantage and put more shots in the net.
“Last 10 minutes of the game we were short handed … they took advantage and got all their penalty kills,” Morabito said.
Junior Nick Cavato thinks that the less than ideal officiating may have caused some of the frustration on the team that led to the penalties.
“The second game was even the whole game, pretty tense, though, everyone was on edge. We got upset and mad about getting wrong calls and plays,” Cavato said.
The team had been known for spending a lot of time in the penalty box in the beginning of the season, but had recently been doing better until this game.
“We got almost 15 penalties, we were doing well staying out of there before, but the referees were making bad calls, and we all just got frustrated,” Cavato said.
The Wildcats are coming away from this past weekend’s split series thinking positively for their last series of the season against Grand Valley State University.
Even though Grand Valley is ranked first in the region, they are still beatable going into the game against the ‘Cats with a 17-10 overall record. Last season, Grand Valley won the game 9-1, but the NMU Wildcats plan on doing their best to win this time around.
A few of the athletes are injured and still planning on playing next weekend so they can participate in their final series.
“A lot of guys are hurt. I have a dislocated shoulder, but I’m still going to play. If I’m going to get hurt it might as well be the last game,” Baudino said.
Another player injured last weekend was Cavato, who may not be able to play but is still going to cheer for his team.
“I may have torn my meniscus, so I won’t play next week, but I am still going to go and support my team,” Cavato said.
O’Connell says his team is feeling good from the win two weeks ago and the series last weekend, and it isn’t too worried about Grand Valley’s ranking or record.
“They are a tough team, we just need our second and third liners to show up and it should be a good series. If everyone steps up, we should be able to give them a run for their money,” O’Connell said.
O’Connell also said the team wants to end the season on as high of a note as it can
The Wildcats take on Grand Valley State University at the Georgetown Ice Center on Friday, Feb. 18 at 9 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 19 at 8 p.m.