Wildcats prepare for Bemidji


Photo by Lindsey Eaton: Freshman defender Adam Roeder skates down the ice and surveys the area for a fellow Wildcat to pass to. Prior to NMU, Roeder played for the Janesville Jets where he was captain.

Tyler Young

The Northern Michigan University Hockey team split their home series against the University of Alabama-Huntsville Chargers this past weekend, taking a 3-1 win on Friday night before falling 3-2 on Saturday.

Friday’s game began with an offensive onslaught by the Wildcats as they outshot the Chargers in the opening period 15-3. Huntsville did not manage to put a shot on goal until halfway through the first period, and although NMU clearly had the better of the opportunities, the game remained scoreless throughout the opening stanza.

The first goal of the contest came at the 9:17 mark of the second period, when Huntsville’s Christian Rajic beat Mathias Israelsson on the power play to put the Chargers up 1-0. This lead would not last, however, as NMU junior forwards Troy Loggins and Adam Rockwood found themselves on a two-on-one just over seven minutes later. Rockwood passed to Loggins, who put the biscuit in the basket for a shorthanded goal and tied the game for the Wildcats.

Before the period was out, NMU added another tally, with Rockwood scoring a shorthanded goal with just over a minute to play in the second period, giving the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Senior forward Robbie Payne picked up his fifth assist of the season on the play.

The Wildcats’ senior forward Zach Diamantoni added an insurance marker 5:03 into the third period on a power play goal, that proved to be more than enough for NMU, as they came out the victors by a score of 3-1.

Saturday night didn’t go as well for the Wildcats, although they opened the game’s scoring with a power-play goal at 13:48 of the first period from sophomore forward Darien Craighead. The Chargers came back and tied the game with just under three minutes to play in the first, thanks to a goal by John Teets, but the Wildcats regained the lead in under a minute when Loggins scored to make it 2-1.

It looked as though the period would end with the Wildcats in the lead, but with only three seconds left, Josh Kestner of Alabama-Huntsville tied the game back up with a power-play goal. After one period, the score stood at two goals apiece.

The Chargers struck back at the 1:48 mark of the second period, when Josh Kestner scored his second goal of the night. This would end up being the game-winner, and Alabama-Huntsville hung on to win 3-2.

“We were ready to play on Friday,” NMU head coach Grant Potulny said, “Not so much on Saturday. I think it’s preparation on our staff’s part, to prepare and practice on every single detail, and I think it’s individual preparation. There’s four ‘P’s to success. We’ve got a plan, now can we practice every day can we prepare every day, and can we perform every day? We’re not far off. Have I seen signs of improvement? Yeah. The next step is executing that and completing a weekend.”

Senior defenseman Jordan Klimek earned WCHA Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance in the series, the first such honor in his career. Klimek is the third Wildcat to be honored by the WCHA this year, as Robbie Payne has been named Offensive Player of the Week twice so far, and Mathias Israelsson was given the Goaltender of the Week nod after securing a victory over Minnesota State-Mankato, who at the time were ranked ninth in the nation.

“I’m really proud of him,” Potulny said of Klimek. “I thought he was outstanding. I thought it was his best weekend of hockey, for sure. He’s come a long way, and I’m really happy that he was rewarded. I’m proud of him, for where he’s at.”

The Wildcats will continue their season with an away series against the Bemidji State University Beavers this weekend.

“I’ve seen ‘em a lot, I know ‘em,” Potulny said of the upcoming opponent. “They work hard, they’re very well coached, they pressure pucks, they back-pressure. If you want to play east and west against them, it’s gonna be a long, long night, but if you want to get the puck going up the rink, you can have a few opportunities to do some things.”

The puck will drop on both Friday and Saturday night at 8:07.