’Cats take on Huskies in U.P. rivalry

AnnMarie Kent

After a successful weekend at Ferris State University, the Wildcat Hockey team prepares for its series against its biggest rival, the Michigan Tech Huskies.

re-hockey-cdAfter the Ferris State Bulldogs swept the ’Cats in the first round of the playoffs last season, NMU was looking for redemption on Friday and Saturday.

NMU was down 4-2 at the end of the first frame, when they powered back in the last two periods scoring four unanswered goals to win 6-4. Five players got on the board in the 6 goals. Freshman forward Darien Craighead opened, scoring for the Wildcats and capped it as well. Freshmen forwards Collin Peters and Luke Voltin scored their first goals in their college careers. Junior forward Filip Starzynski and sophomore forward Denver Pierce also found the back of the net.

Head coach Walt Kyle was happy to see freshmen stepping up into scoring roles for the team.

“Every shift you have to be able to put people out there that are capable of that,” Kyle said. “I like that and I’d like to see us be able to do that on a consistent basis.”

Saturday night’s game ended in a 2-2 tie with the Bulldogs taking the extra league point in a shootout.

Kyle thought the team played better Saturday night and should have been able to get a win out of how well they were playing. Overall he said the team is forming its own identity and starting to play well together.

“We’re becoming the team we want to be right now,” Kyle said. “We’re taking steps in that direction, and I thought last week we took a big step.”

The Wildcats visit Houghton on Friday night to begin the series against the Michigan Tech Huskies. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Oct. 28 at the John MacInnes Ice Arena. The teams come to

Marquette to play the final game of the series at 7:07 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 29 at the Berry Events Center.

Junior defenseman Jordan Klimek said they always expect a good team out of Michigan Tech.

“[There’s] lots of intensity, especially up here in the Upper Peninsula,” Klimek said. “The rivalry is so tight and so fierce. They’re some of the best games to play in here.”

The Huskies have a 1-5-2 record this season, with a 1-2-1 record within the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The one win  come from a 7-3 win over the University of Alabama-Huntsville the first night of the series, before tying 1-1 the next night.

Friday and Saturday Tech traveled to the University of Michigan to take on the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Wolverines. Tech was bested Friday in a 4-3 loss but came back Saturday night to tie Michigan 3-3.

Kyle said Tech has a lot of forwards with good scoring skills and some of the best defensemen in college hockey.

“They have a lot of guys up front that experienced success over the last couple of years,” Kyle said. “They made deep playoff runs and those things always expedite a team’s growth.”

He said they are blessed to have this rivalry to bring together the communities, reminding the team they will remember Tech games the most when they leave college hockey.

Junior forward Robbie Payne said they always expect the series against Tech to be exciting.

“You don’t need to get jacked up for these games—you already are,” Payne said. “You come into the season knowing that when you play Tech it’s going to be a good game.”

As attendance has waned over the last few years, Klimek said he hopes the Tech rivalry will bring out the community and students to the game this weekend.

“Everyone who goes to this school is aware of the rivalry and what’s at stake this weekend,” Klimek said. “I’m hoping that translates into a packed Berry Events Center this weekend.”