Wildcats face Michigan in GLI

Ray Bressette

hockey1The puck will go down in Motown Tuesday night when the NMU Wildcats return to the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena for the first time since 1998.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to play in front of our alumni and downstate students and show them Northern hockey,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said in a press release.

The ’Cats will face the University of Michigan Wolverines at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 29. The match will be the first time NMU has faced the Michigan Wolverines since the CCHA dispatched at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.

Sophomore forward Robbie Payne said the tournament is a classic that he watched growing up.

“When I was a kid, you always watched Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan Tech,” Payne said in a press release. “Playing against these teams we don’t normally get to face will be pretty cool.”

The Wildcats have never won the GLI in their five trips to the tournament, and their highest finish was second place in 1992.

With the Michigan Tech Huskies defeating the Michigan State Spartans by a score of 3-2 in the opening match of the tournament, NMU will go on to face their arch rival Tech in the tournament championship at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 30 if they can down the Wolverines. If the ’Cats lose to Michigan, they will face Michigan State at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 30 in the third place game.

NMU is sitting in fifth place of the WCHA with a 6-6-6 overall record, 5-5-4 in conference play. Despite the tournament games being non conference, junior forward Dominik Shine said competitive play in the GLI can uplift their season.  

“It will definitely give us a lot of momentum,” Shine said in a press release. “People look at the bigger schools and put them on a pedestal, but really everyone in college hockey is competitive. If we play our game and get a couple of wins at the GLI, it really puts us on the map for a good second half of the season.”