Hockey team hosts Lakers with Cappo Cup on the line

Lauren Lee


The Northern Michigan University hockey team returns home this weekend to face their U.P. rival Lake Superior State Lakers at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Berry Events Center with a chance to win the Father Cappo Cup.

Head coach Walt Kyle said the team needs to continue their momentum moving forward.

“We had a really good weekend with some guys finding their game,” Kyle said. “I think that we collectively had a great attitude and chemistry about us. We took a real positive step in the right direction and were able to hang tight with the teams that were ahead of us. We’re still very much in the battle for home ice; the guys really focused on that. Had a real tough series against Lake Superior earlier in the Sault, so we know that we have our hands full this weekend.”

NMU swept Bowling Green State University last weekend, earning an overtime 3-2 win Friday, Feb. 20, then clutching another win 4-3 Feb. 21 at the BGSU Ice Arena.

Senior forward Ryan Kesti scored the game winning goal 3:36 into overtime play with an assist from sophomore forward Sami Salminen in Friday’s win.

NMU junior goalie Michael Doan had 37 saves off Bowling Green, who outshot the Cats 39-24 in the first match.

Kyle said Doan’s performance on the ice helped set the winning mindset for the Wildcats this past weekend.

“I think that the biggest single key to having success is having a chemistry and confidence about your team and I think first and foremost Michael Doan had a good weekend,” Kyle said. “Doan stopped some pucks on a consistent basis that breeds confidence in the room and in the players and when that starts to happen they play loser and they try to take more chances, maybe create a little more offensively. I think you can see that collectively we’re in a much better spot than we were a couple weeks ago.”

The next night, NMU came back in the third period after being down 3-1 at the end of the second. Bowling Green started the game scoring the first goal by junior forward Brent Tate with 17:28 left in the first period.

The Falcons started off the second period with a 2-0 lead over NMU.

Junior forward Justin Rose sparked a three-goal streak for the ’Cats, his first career goal at 15:38 into the third period with assists from senior forward DJ Vandercook and junior defenseman Ryan Trenz.

NMU was 1-4 on the power play with a goal from senior forward Reed Seckel scoring back to back goals making his seventh goal of the season to tie and give the ’Cats the lead with 1:03 left on the clock.

Seckel earned WCHA player of the week after scoring game and season high points against the Falcons. So far this season, Seckel has 14 points this season for the Cats.

The Cats outshot BGSU 10-4 in the third period but overall were outshot by the Falcons 27-22.

NMU is now .500 at 13-13-6 with a 10-10-4 WCHA mark.

The Wildcats are getting closer to tournament play as they prepare to face the Lake Superior State Lakers this weekend with puck drop at 7:07 p.m. both nights Friday, Feb.27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 at the Berry Events Center.

This matchup will be for the Father Cappo Cup, honoring the late Marquette native Father Cappo.

NMU will be looking to clinch the cup for the second straight season, and in order to win the Cup this year Northern Michigan will need to sweep both games against Lake State at home this weekend.

Seckel said the Father Cappo Cup has been played into the rivalry for years, making the win even more exciting.

“It’s really big, and we have the cup because it represents our city and it represents the U.P.,” Seckel said. “We all know that Lake State is one of those teams that we never know what they’re going to bring. Anyone can beat anyone in this league, so we just gotta be ready to go Friday night at puck drop and play a full 60 minutes.”

The Lakers are 6-17-1 in conference play this season, sitting ninth out of 10 teams in the WCHA, and have been 0-1-4 in their last five games. The last time the two teams met up, NMU won both games with a 4-2 win Friday, Oct. 24 followed by a 3-0 shutout win the following night. The win was NMU’s second shutout of the season and sophomore goalie Mathias Dahlstrom’s fifth career shutout in a Wildcat jersey.

With the postseason two weeks away, senior forward Ryan Kesti said playoff mindset has already kicked in the for ’Cats.

“Playoff mode has definitely started for us – we’re fighting for home ice which is critical to us,” Kesti said. “It’s just details, making sure we are on our game at all times, because when playoffs come you don’t know what mistake, whether it’s in the first period or the third period, could cost you the game.”