Club hockey ‘Cats keep up win streak

By William Burns, contributing writer

The Northern Michigan University men’s club hockey team returned to Illinois this weekend to play a two game series against DePaul University.

Freshman left-wing Anders Carlson takes aim against the St. Norbert Green Knights. The 'Cats took on St. Norbert on Friday, Oct. 19 last year.

On Friday, Jan. 18 and Saturday, Jan. 19 the Wildcats were in Chicago, Illinois to play against the No. 10 DePaul Blue Demons.

Northern came out on top of both matches, sweeping the Blue Demons 4-1 in the first game and 5-3 in the second game.

NMU head coach Carl Trosien said the wins were the best two games of hockey he had seen his team play.

“It’s the way you want to see your team play,” Trosien said. “We had the intensity and the focus. We spread the puck the around.”

Senior right wing Kellen Michalak scored an unassisted goal less than a minute into regulation. DePaul responded with a score in the first period, but they did not find the back of the net again.

Michalak scored another unassisted goal and senior forward Neeco Belanger scored a pair of goals to put the Wildcats up 4-1. Sophomore goaltender Jeff Ryan was in net for the Wildcats and made 26 saves in route to the win.

The Wildcats jumped out first again when sophomore Wolff Belanger scored a goal. Belanger’s goal was assisted by Michalak.

Neeco Belanger, freshman left wing Anders Carlson and Michalak would all score goals during the third. Ryan made 31 saves and was able to hang on to the 5-3 win.

The Wildcats still have eight games remaining in the regular season with six of them being away from home.

Wolff Belanger said while the trips can be tiring, they are always a lot of fun.

“People don’t really realize how tiring it is,” Belanger said. “It’s tough trying to get rid of your bus legs and really get your feet back. It really takes time to adjust. We have a lot of fun with it though and that is the most important thing.”

Trosien said the team is well adjusted to playing on the road as often as they do while the regular travel helps them stay in good form.

“Were pretty use to it,” Trosien said. “We have been doing it a lot. It’s just the way our schedule works out. On the flip side we have more control of what goes on when we are on the road versus when we are at home. In the end, we’re not worried about being on the road so much.”

Wolff Belanger has contributed 29 goals and 32 assists this season.

Wolff Belanger said he gives a lot of credit to his teammates and feels that being on the same line with his brother, Neeco Belanger, has provided him with the best opportunity to play well.

“Playing with my brother has probably made the biggest difference I have had playing hockey,” Belanger said. “I can’t begin to explain how much of an impact that has had on me. It can really only go uphill from here.”

The Blue Demons are now 8-10-4 on the year while the Wildcats are 27-2-1.

The Wildcat’s will be in Minnesota for three matches over the weekend.

They will face off against St. Cloud State on Jan. 25 and Jan. 26. The Wildcats will then face off against the University of St. Thomas  on Jan. 27 in Minneapolis, Minn.