Wildcat hockey starts season with blowout

AnnMarie Kent

The Wildcat Hockey team came out to a strong start after a 10-1 victory over the University of Victoria Vikes in their only exhibition match of the season. The ’Cats head to Green Bay this weekend to challenge the University of Wisconsin Badgers.

re-hockeyvsvictoria-3665The Vikes play in the British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League, a conference of five teams throughout British Columbia. The Vikes played the Badgers the night before, in another 10-1 defeat.

“We’re obviously better than them,” head coach Walt Kyle said. “I don’t mean that in a critical way.”

Kyle has been friends with a major benefactor to the team, and a year ago he approached Kyle about having the Vikes play here.

Kyle agreed to the matchup because of the exposure it would give NMU in British Columbia, a major recruiting area for the team, and the experience it would give players.

“It’s a huge recruiting thing for them and at the end of the day it was really good for us,” Kyle said. “We use the game to evaluate people. We use the game to give a lot of young guys experience.”

The team added six freshmen to the roster this year, making the game against the Vikes their first time to show their abilities. Two of those freshmen did just that. Freshmen forward Collin Peters and defenseman Philip Beaulieu scored their first collegiate goals, both in the second frame of the game.

Kyle said they will be looking to the freshmen a lot this year and they need to be able to keep growing as players to help benefit the team.

“It’s an exceptional class,” he said. “We need them to have an impact this year but we think they’re very capable of having an impact.”

Having freshmen making impacts on the game so early in the season is important to junior forward Zach Diamantoni but their personalities are important to the team as well.

“They’re fitting in with the team chemistry,” Diamantoni said. “All really good guys and good players too obviously, as everyone saw tonight.”

After playing only 14 of the 39 games last season, senior forward Sami Salminen netted two goals and an assist in their first game. Senior defenseman Brock Maschmeyer said it felt good to have Salminen back on the ice.

“Seeing [him] come back from an injury, it’s really nice to see him actually come out and contribute,” Maschmeyer said. “It made the game a lot easier.”

According to Kyle the Vikes don’t play at the same pace as teams within the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

So for Salminen to continue making an impact he will need to keep up with WCHA teams.

The first series of the season starts at 8:07 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7 and continues at 8:07 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 8 as the Wildcats take on the Badgers at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

Last season the Wildcats played the Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin. They came out of the series 0-0-2.

Kyle has four of the freshmen in the lineup for this weekend’s series, as well as multiple other players back from injury who didn’t see much ice time last season.

“So we have a lot of guys we need to get some experience to right now,” Kyle said.

The team will have only five practices under their belt before heading into the series. Diamantoni said the focus is to keep from turning over the puck and play a refined game of hockey.

“The first weekend of the year is always whatever team makes the least amount of mistakes.”