’Cats to host Minnesota State

Katie Bultman

The men’s hockey team has an opportunity for a rematch against the Minnesota State-Mankato Mavericks.

Senior forward Stephan Vigier said the ’Cats have a lot to show since the last time they played the Mavericks on the road.

“We weren’t playing very well at that point,” Vigier said. “There was a little stretch where we were playing pretty bad hockey and they haven’t seen what we’re capable of yet.”

The Mavericks stand in second place of the WCHA with a 12-6-0 record. The Wildcats, sixth in the WCHA, are 8-7-1 in conference play following a split last weekend with the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves.

Junior defenseman Mitch Jones, named defensive player of the week following his performance, opened the game against the Seawolves Friday, Jan. 24, with his first goal of the season on assists from Vigier and redshirt freshman forward John Siemer.

The game was tied at one going into the second period, but Jones put in his second goal of the season at 12:01 with assists from freshman forward Gerard Hanson and Siemer.

NMU finished the game with a 3-1 victory.

Vigier said Friday night was a battle against the Seawolves.

“The trip is kind of a grind,” Vigier said. “You want to do the best you can and get out of there with as many points as you can, and Friday we played a solid road game and did everything we could to win.”

Saturday evening, the Wildcats were down 2-0 in the first period. Unable to turn the game around, NMU was defeated 4-2.

Head coach Walt Kyle said the ’Cats did a good job overall.

“You always try to win two,” Kyle said. “The reality is, they (Alaska) were 9-2 going into the weekend on their home ice. They really take advantage of the travel and it’s a tough trip.”

NMU hosts Minnesota State at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1, at Berry Events Center. Vigier leads the ’Cats in points with 11 goals and 8 assists. Jones tallies 13 assists and two goals to come in at second.

Vigier said his teammates have stepped up after injury infractions this season, including the loss of senior defenseman and captain CJ Ludwig to a knee injury. Recently, junior Luke Eibler, senior Wade Epp and freshman Brock Maschmeyer have sat out of the defensive lineup due to injury.

“Our defensive core is hurting, but I think [junior defenseman] Jake Baker has been playing really well,” Vigier said. “He kind of took a leadership role with Ludwig gone. Mitch Jones has been playing well back there and this past weekend, up front, [junior forward] Reed Seckel had a couple goals. He’s been working real hard and then [redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias] Dahlstrom has been steady for us.”

Minnesota State hosted the ’Cats in the last contest. NMU lost, 3-2, Friday, Dec. 6, 2013 and, 3-0, Saturday, Dec. 7.

Kyle said Minnesota State is a very good team that has really come on.

“They’re probably one of the most dynamic offensive teams we’ve played all year, [with] a lot of dangerous forwards,” Kyle said. “We’re going to have to be a lot better defensively against these guys this weekend than we were in their building, and we’re going to have to do a better job taking advantage when we get special team opportunities.”