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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

NMU hockey sweeps third weekend series in a row

Photo by Lindsey Eaton

Last weekend’s back-to-back wins at Alaska-Anchorage were just the push the Wildcats needed to pull out of second place and into the lead of the WCHA.

With a 4-2 win Friday, and a 5-3 victory on Saturday, the ’Cats continued their rise up the WCHA conference leaderboard.

Scoring early and scoring often was the secret to success, with the first horn sounding only a minute and a half into the first period of the two game series. The Wildcats spent the next 44 minutes of their first night without giving up any goals.

NMU spent 10 minutes killing penalties, and only gave up one goal while shorthanded early in the third.

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“We didn’t play too well the first night, but we got lucky with a few bounces,” said junior forward Troy Loggins.

Saturday’s game was more of the same, with Northern putting up three unanswered goals in the first period. Two of those goals came within the first two minutes.

Northern managed to cut back on the penalties the second night, taking only four infractions. Alaska-Anchorage had a hard time staying out of the penalty box, as they spent 17 minutes on the penalty kill.

While NMU managed to capitalize on their first man advantage, the ’Cats weren’t able to convert on any other power play opportunities.

Adam Rockwood finished the weekend +5 in scoring overall, with two goals and two assists. Rockwood also finished the weekend clean, taking no penalties.

Loggins was a dynamic threat for the Wildcats, putting up eight shots Friday night and five shots on Saturday. Despite drawing two penalties the first night, Loggins finished +4 overall for the weekend with three goals and one assist.

The Wildcats now sit three points above second place Bowling Green State University, with 49 points. NMU has two more wins than BGSU, while the ’Cats also have an extra loss. Minnesota State University lurks in third place, one point behind BGSU with two more games remaining than NMU.

“It’s good that the conference is playing at such a level right now,” said senior forward Zak Diamantoni. “There’s not a lot of separation between the top four teams, so we can’t sit back these next three weeks.”

“You don’t want to overplay it, but you don’t want to underplay it,” assistant coach Byron Pool said on the ’Cats’ first place standing.

“The guys need to feel good about what they’ve accomplished so far, because there’s been a lot of hard work put in. Also, at the same time, there’s a lot of hockey left to be played.”

With only six more games left in the regular season, Northern needs to win out in order to not rely on losses from their opponents. With Minnesota State only one point behind Bowling Green, the pack at the top is tight.
now,” Diamantoni said.

The Wildcats will travel to Alabama-Huntsville, who are one of only two teams to split a weekend series against the ’Cats at the Berry Events Center. NMU returns home the following weekend as they play host to the University of Alaska, who currently holds the eighth seed in the conference with 23 points, which is the cutoff slot for teams to make the playoffs in a 10-team conference. Lake Superior State University is in ninth place with 15 points.

Pool expects a physical series from Alabama-Huntsville, exclaiming, “They’re one of those teams that comes at you hard with four lines. Not a lot of difference from top to bottom.”

Northern Michigan is going through their most extensive travel of the season, with a trip to Alabama looming fresh off the heels of a series in Alaska.

When asked about how the travel fatigue will affect the players, Diamantoni said, “Our practices have prepared us for this point in the season. We’re young, and our adrenaline helps get us through the action.”

Two weeks from now, Northern will finish their regular season with a home-and-home series against their biggest rival, Michigan Tech. The home game for that series will start at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23 with teams heading to Houghton the following night for the second game, slotted for 7 p.m. as well.

Tech currently sits fifth in the conference with 34 points, five points behind fourth place Bemidji State. Alabama- Huntsville is in seventh place with 27 points.

Senior forward Robbie Payne is just three regular season goals away from reaching 50 goals in his career. Only 34 other skaters at NMU have reached that mark.

The Wildcats hold an all- time record of 12-5-3 versus Alabama-Huntsville, with their last roadtrip occuring in December 2015. NMU took three out of four points from the Chargers.

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