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The North Wind

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Ryley Wilcox
Ryley Wilcox
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I found my passion for journalism during my sophomore year of college, writing articles here and there for the North Wind. Since joining the staff this past semester as the news writer, I have been able...

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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 Wiertella April 30, 2024

’Cats face Mankato in play-offs

Third time a charm for No. 7-seed men’s hockey team?

The men’s hockey team will face Minnesota State-Mankato for the third time this season as the Wildcats sealed a No. 7-seed and a WCHA playoff appearance following a series sweep over Alabama-Huntsville Friday, March 7 and Saturday, March 8.

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The Wildcats previously lost one series to Mankato and tied the second series.

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Head coach Walt Kyle said the team has played solid games in the most recent weekends.

“They played pretty well the last two weekends and, really, our last three games,” Kyle said. “We beat Bowling Green on Friday, then we lost Saturday, but played very well in the game we lost.”

The Wildcats face No. 2-seed Minnesota State-Mankato in a best-of-three series at 8:07 p.m. Friday, March 14 through Sunday, March 16, in Mankato, Minn.

To finalize the playoff appearance, the ’Cats took the most recent series against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers with a 4-1 victory in the first game, Friday evening. Freshman defenseman Brock Maschmeyer opened the game with a power-play goal 4:56 into the first period. Freshman forward Dominik Shine contributed one goal and one assist for the Wildcats and junior forward Reed Seckel had two goals and an assist in the NMU victory.

Saturday evening, NMU topped the Chargers, 5-2, with a hat trick from forward Darren Nowick, a career first for the sophomore.

Assistant coach Joe Shawhan said Nowick played extremely well Saturday evening.

“He had a career night,” Shawhan said. “It was great to see him play that way. His line was shut-out Friday night, so it was great to see that line come out.”

The Wildcats finished the 2013-14 regular season with a 13-14 conference record, 15-19 overall.

This is the first year the ’Cats are in the WCHA since 1997. NMU holds three WCHA champion titles from its previous tenure in the conference, of which the ’Cats were members between 1984-97. The titles were earned in 1988-89, 1990-91 and 1991-92, under head coach Rick Comley. The ’Cats also have six consecutive WCHA playoff appearances from 1989-94.

Assistant coach John Kyle said they try to keep the athletes aware of that tradition to remind the men that the only difference between this team and the past championship teams is attention to detail; the skill is there.

“We have a sign in the locker room that says, ‘Tradition never graduates,’” John Kyle said. “Part of that is the championships that have been earned and won in the past, and we want these guys to leave here with that experience.”

This will be the 62nd season of men’s competition in the WCHA.

No. 1-seed Ferris State University will face No. 8-seed Bemidji State University. No. 2-seed Minnesota State-Mankato hosts No.7-seed Northern Michigan University. No. 3-seed Alaska-Fairbanks plays No. 6-seed University of Alaska-Anchorage, and the No. 4-seed Bowling Green University hosts No. 5-seed Michigan Technological University.

The four winners of the WCHA playoff quarterfinals advance to the WCHA Final Five on Friday, March 21 and Saturday, March 22.

Shawhan said the Wildcats have playoff ability.

“We’ve shown it on a fairly consistent basis over the last month or so, to be able to shut down a team,” Shawhan said. “Mankato is an extremely explosive offensive team. They’re one of the top three power-plays in the country; they’re top three in shots on goal.”

“Offensively, they’ve got forwards. They’ve got a lot of giddy-up, they play with a lot of pace, they like to hang around the net, they like to go to the tough areas of the ice; but we’ve shown recently that we have the ability to shut teams down.”

The playoff quarterfinal series this weekend will be the third time the Wildcats see Mankato since the first time the teams played one another, Friday, Dec. 6 and Saturday, Dec. 7, when NMU lost both to the Mavericks.

In the most recent series, the Wildcats took a 5-2 victory over the Mavericks on Friday, Jan. 31 in the Berry Events Center.

Senior forward Stephan Vigier scored the Wildcats’ first goal with 16 seconds left in the second period to tie the game at one on a powerplay, with assists from junior defenseman Mitch Jones and Seckel. NMU sealed the victory with two more goals in the third.

Seckel said the Wildcats need to know what to expect this weekend, in order to adapt according to both team’s strengths and weaknesses.

“Mankato is a good team; they are going to come out strong,” Seckel said. “They have really good offensive depth. We need to be able to slow down their top-end forwards and also work their defense as hard as possible.”

In the last game against the Mavericks, Saturday, Feb. 1, Minnesota-State finished with a 5-1 victory. The only Wildcat to score was senior forward Erik Higby off a penalty shot.

Walt Kyle said the ’Cats need to take the games one period at a time in order to be successful against Minnesota State.

“You have to respect their talent,” Walt Kyle said. “We have to be able to contain them a little bit; it’s a tough place to play.”

The ’Cats open the playoff quarterfinals against Minnesota State at 8:07 p.m. Friday, March 14 in Mankato, Minn.

“You have to go and win two games on the road,” Shawhan said. “We’ve created that situation for ourselves, and now we have to go in and take care of it.”

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