Men’s club team makes NMU history

Georgette Breen-Naylor

A win, a loss and a game that had to be decided in extra periods kept the ‘’Cats with their hands full this weekend.

The men’s club hockey team played three games this past weekend in the WCCHA Tournament starting with a game against UW Eau Claire on Friday, Feb. 8. While the ’Cats will have a chance to play in the upcoming regional tournament, they still have two regular season games left to finish.

With goals from senior forward Kellen Michalak, sophomore forward Wolff Belanger, freshman Karsten Heppler and freshman forward Brock Francis, the ’Cats beat UW Eau Claire 6-1. However, the ’Cats only managed to score one goal in the second game against St. Cloud State, losing 4-1.

Sophomore goaltender Jeff Ryan said he saw, first hand, how the offense did in the first game and what went wrong in the second.

“I think we just found a way to score in the first game,” Ryan said. “For some reason, we just couldn’t find the back of the net as much as we would’ve liked in the second game.”

The final game of the ’Cats’ three game weekend was played shortly after their game against St. Cloud State. against Waldorf State on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 9:45 p.m.

Waldorf State took the ’Cats into overtime, but a goal from senior defense Shane Feehery gave the ’Cats a win with a score of 3-2.

After losing to St. Cloud State, the ’Cats came back to get a  win against Waldorf State. NMU head coach Carl Trosien said he had a much better effort from his team in the third game.

“We made Waldorf play the game how we wanted it played,” Trosien said. “We played hard in game two, but we lacked the team effort we had in game three.”

After winning two games out of three, the ’Cats earned a spot in the regional tournament.

Trosien said he is impressed with the improvements the team has made throughout the season. For the first time in school history, the ’Cats have qualified for the regional tournament.

“We are one of 32 teams left in over four regions,” Trosien said. “This is huge for us.”

On Sunday, Feb.10, Trosien said that the ’Cats will be playing the program’s first regional tournament.

“I think the way the team has become a family has been huge for us,” Trosien said. “It’s an improvement people don’t know about unless they are with us.”

Sophomore right wing Ben Hughes said because the ’Cats do not play three games in one weekend often, it does wear the team down.

“It’s one more game for injuries to occur,” Hughes said. “If that’s what we have to do to get to regionals, than that’s what we have to do.”

Although the ’Cats’ only loss of the weekend was in the Conference Semi-Final against St. Cloud State, Trosien said he was still very proud of the team.

“We came back that evening and played a very good Waldorf team,” said Trosien. “We had a solid bounce back game and really played the best hockey of the weekend.”

Ryan leads the ACHA in wins and Trosien said he has proven to everyone that he is one of the best goalies in the conference.

“He has been a huge part of our success,” Trosien said. “We are so proud of him.”

Before the ’Cats pack up for their regional tournament, they have a few games of their regular season to finish.

With the Regional Tournament starting in two weeks, the ’Cats will have a limited amount of time to prepare.

They have to win two games at regionals and five games at nationals  to win the National Championship.

The ’Cats will finish their season Friday, Feb.15 and Saturday, Feb.16 against Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Mich.