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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 WiertellaApril 30, 2024

Icers tie, win over Falcons

Defenseman Wade Epp (left) and forward Brian Nugent help out goaltender Reid Ellingson during a faceoff in the defensive zone. The Wildcats will host the Michigan Wolverines in the regular season series finale on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25-26. // Justin Key/NW

Facing the twilight of its regular season, the NMU hockey team needed to get points against Bowling Green State University to maintain a higher spot in the standings. The Wildcats (14-15-5 overall, 12-11-3 CCHA) tied and then earned a victory against the Falcons (8-22-4 overall, 3-19-4-2 CCHA) last weekend at their most important series to date. This weekend, the ’Cats look to take on a juggernaut University of Michigan team with the hopes of clinching a first-round bye for the CCHA tournament.

Head coach Walt Kyle said this series will determine where the Wildcats end up in the tournament.

“The top five teams get a bye in the first round, so if you can finish in that position you basically win a playoff round; it’s a round you don’t have to play in,” Kyle said. “For us, the games this weekend and the ability to maybe bypass a round is critical.”

The Wildcat offense started early on Friday, Feb. 18, when Justin Florek (Phil Fox, Scott Macaulay) put one in the net at 13:16 in the first period. Senior captain Phil Fox (Florek, Macaulay) earned another goal for his line off of a power play at 5:53 in the second.

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All was well for the ’Cats until Andrew Cherniwchan was given a 5-minute major penalty and game misconduct, his third of the season, at 2:19 in the third for contact to the head. The Falcon offense wasted no time with power play goals at 2:33 and 3:25. The 2-2 stalemate continued beyond regulation and through the overtime period, but the Falcons came through in the shootout, earning the Wildcats one point for the standings. The Wildcats are winless in the shootout for the 2010-2011 season.

The Falcons began the Saturday, Feb. 19 game with an early unassisted goal at 1:22 in the first period. Fox evened the score with a goal (Florek, Macaulay) at 13:02, and senior forward Greger Hanson (Macaulay, Florek) scored on the power play at 14:48. The Falcons leveled the ice once more with a goal at 2:07 in the second, but Fox (Florek, Wade Epp) was the saving grace for the Wildcats with his game-winning goal at 3:35.

Junior goaltender Reid Ellingson played both games, but Kyle said his position is still not set in stone.

“We’ll make that determination at the end of the week based on how guys performed during the week in practice but we certainly have no problem with putting Jared in at all,” Kyle said.

This is the first season since the departure of alumnus Brian Stewart that the Wildcats have had a two-goalie system, and while Kyle said at the beginning of the season that he typically goes with a one-goalie program, he said it’s difficult to deny when there are two quality goalies competing against each other.

“We have both these guys back next year and both these guys are young guys who are developing,” Kyle said. “We’re not going to have one guy sit on the bench and not develop and grow, so they’re both going to get ice time.”

Hanson said the team was glad to get the victory because the points were necessary for their postseason goals.

“It was definitely good for us to get that second game. I do think that we probably should have come away with the win on Friday as well but we have to be happy with what we got and keep moving forward,” Hanson said.

The series this weekend marks the end of the regular season for the Wildcats. The team will face the No. 10 University of Michigan Wolverines (21-9-4 overall, 18-7-1 CCHA). The Wolverines are second in the CCHA with 55 points, on the heels of the University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish who have 56 points. The Wildcats currently sit at fifth in the CCHA with 39 points, just above Ferris State and Alaska (38 points), Lake State (37) and Ohio State (35).  The games commence Friday and Saturday Feb. 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. in the Berry Events Center

For Hanson, it could be the last time he skates at the Berry, but he said he’s not even considering that now.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen in the playoffs. I mean I’m not going to say that I hope we play at the Berry because that could mean we’re playing the first round of the playoffs,” Hanson said. “I’m just going to take these two games here and hopefully they’re going to be really good ones since they’re most likely my last ones.”

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