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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.

TIMES ARE CHANGING — FAFSA announced changes to its filing system in February.
Editorial — The "better" FAFSA
North Wind Editorial Board February 27, 2024

Wildcats lose ground in CCHA standings

The Wildcats slipped in the CCHA standings after coming out on the losing end of their series against Michigan State (7-7-2-2 CCHA, 12-9-3 overall) last weekend.

The teams tied on Friday, and State topped NMU (6-7-5-2 CCHA, 10-8-5) with a 2-1 win on Saturday.

“I think they’re two really evenly matched teams and it was a really good series,” said head coach Walt Kyle.

The ’Cats struggled defensively on Friday, Kyle said, something they have focused on since their series against the University of Alaska-Fairbanks the previous weekend.

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“We weren’t very sound and very good in our end,” Kyle said. “When you score five goals, it should be enough to win, so I think that potentially lost us points.”

Northern took an early lead Friday, with goals from junior left wing Brian Nugent and senior left wing Justin Florek. This marked Florek’s 100th in his career.

The Spartans snapped back with four goals before the end of the first period, answered by one from NMU junior center Matt Thurber.

“We played well overall,” Thurber said. “We just had a couple breakdowns defensively which cost us the game both nights.”

State bumped its lead to 5-3 in the second, and the Wildcats netted two more goals by junior defenseman Scott Macaulay and senior right wing Tyler Gron to tie the game at the end of regulation.

A scoreless overtime brought the teams to a shootout, which Michigan State took for the extra conference point.

“That’s the one thing I don’t like about the shootout,” Kyle said. “I think it’s a really unjust formula when we go out there, there’s a one goal difference in 125 minutes and they gain four points on you.”

Although Saturday night marked a Wildcat loss, Kyle said the team was much stronger defensively.

“On Saturday, the reality is we didn’t score on our chances,” Kyle said. “You have to find a way to score more than one goal, you have to take advantage of powerplays, and we weren’t able to do that.”

For his second of the series, Thurber scored the lone Wildcat goal that night, assisted by junior defenseman Kyle Follmer and Macaulay.

State returned with two unanswered goals, one each in the first and second periods, for the Spartan win.

“I thought Saturday night was a good defensive effort,” Follmer said. “It’s something to build on and I’m pretty sure we’re back to where we were before break as far as being good defensively.”

The Wildcats continue their three consecutive weeks on the road as they travel to Houghton Saturday to take Michigan Tech.

The ’Cats defeated the Huskies 4-1 at the Berry Events Center in December but have not won a game at Tech since 2007.

“We’ve got to put our hard hats on and go to work,” Follmer said. “They’re going to come out fired up, wanting to beat us on home ice.”

Follmer said it’s important for the Wildcats to keep their emotions under control because of their rivalry with the Huskies.

“We don’t care how we win as long as we get the win,” Follmer said. “Going up there, it’s going to be a battle. We’re in for a long night.”

With just 11 regular season games remaining, the Wildcats are focusing on staying healthy and in peak condition, as well as specific aspects of their game.

“We definitely need to keep working defensively and continue the offensive streak that we’ve been on,” Thurber said. “We need to get our powerplay going again too.”

Kyle said he is happy with the first half of the season, but the ’Cats need to be playing at the top of their game, day in and day out, in order to succeed.

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