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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Lily Gouin
Lily Gouin
Assistant Sports Editor

Hi! My name is Lily Gouin I am in my third year here at NMU. I am from Appleton, WI majoring in communications and double minoring in multimedia journalism and public relations. In my free time, I like...

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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 Wiertella April 30, 2024

Wildcats continue dominance at home, another sellout crowd

Senior forward Zach Diamantoni skates the puck into the offensive zone as he’s guarded by Michigan Tech freshman defender Seamus Donohue and his teammates eagerly look on. Dia- mantoni skated in 143 games in his four years at NMU, scoring 16 goals and tallying 43 assists, and currently has the sixth most points for the Wildcats this season with 19. Photo by: Lindsey Eaton

The Northern Michigan University Hockey team ended the regular season with a split against the Michigan Tech Huskies last weekend, winning at home 2-1 Friday night before falling 3-2 on Saturday in Houghton.

Friday night’s game at the Berry Events Center (BEC) was prefaced by a ceremony honoring the four seniors on the team: forwards Filip Starzynski, Zach Diamantoni, Robbie Payne and defenseman Jordan Klimek.

“I went to give my mom flowers, and she was already tearing up,” Klimek said of the senior ceremony. “I’m not much of an emotional guy, but I was choking up a little bit.”

The first period passed without either team finding the back of the net, and it wasn’t until 6:05 into the second that Michigan Tech’s Brent Baltus broke the scoreless tie. NMU tied the game up four minutes later on a goal from Robbie Payne, and the teams skated into the second intermission tied 1-1.

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The Wildcats took the lead just under five minutes into the third period, when sophomore forward Darien Craighead roofed the puck over Husky goaltender Devin Kero. Northern played lights-out defense to finish the period, and hung on for a victory over their arch rival.

“It was a hard game,” NMU head coach Grant Potulny said. “I don’t think either team played to their best ability. It took a little bit for us to get into it, which we expected. We got better as it went, and we just made one more play than they did. At the end of the day, that’s hockey.”

“Northern blocked a lot of shots,” Michigan Tech head coach Joe Shawhan said. “They did all the little things they had to do to get the win.”

The Wildcats didn’t fare quite as well at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton. The first period looked promising for Northern, as they opened the game’s scoring on a power-play goal from junior forward Troy Loggins at the 11:51 mark. NMU doubled their lead under six minutes later, when junior forward Denver Pierce deflected sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu’s shot into the net, again on a power play. After one period, the Wildcats led the Huskies 2-0.

Michigan Tech came out with determination in the second period, cutting Northern’s lead to one at 4:01 on a power play goal by Brent Baltus. Jake Lucchini tied the game for Tech on another power-play goal at 8:45. The Huskies took the lead on yet another powerplay goal after NMU sophomore forward Demico Hannoun suffered a game misconduct penalty for elbowing. Justin Misiak scored two minutes into the penalty to give Tech their first lead of the game at the 13:09 mark of the second period. NMU was unable to tie the game in the third period, and the Huskies skated away with the 3-2 victory.
“There’s a couple things we need to adjust,” Potulny said of Saturday night’s performance. “I think the positioning of a couple guys could be adjusted. But give them credit. It was Tech’s senior night, it was an emotional game, they clawed back from down 2-0, so sometimes, you have to give credit where credit’s due.”

The Wildcats end the regular season with an overall record of 21-12-3, the first time since the 2009-10 season that they record- ed 20 wins in a single campaign. Moreover, NMU’s 19 conference wins are the most by a Wildcat hockey team since 1990-91, the year that they won the NCAA title.

In addition to the team’s accomplishments, several individuals had standout years. NMU junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen finished the season with 19 wins, tied for fourth-best in the nation. Payne scored 20 goals on the year, tied for ninth in the country. Junior forward Adam Rockwood’s 30 assists on the season set him alone in fourth place in the nation, and his average of 0.83 assists per game was good for eighth.

Loggins tied for first in the nation with three shorthanded goals. Craighead, with six game-winning goals, finished the year alone in first place in the country in that category.

The Wildcats will open post-season play at the Berry Events Center against the University of Alabama-Huntsville in a best- of-three series, with the first two games scheduled for Friday, Mar. 2 and Saturday, Mar. 3. Friday and Saturday night’s games will both begin at 7 p.m., with an additional game played on Sunday at the same time, if necessary.

The games will also be “white- outs,” so if you’re planning to go, Potulny asks you to wear white while supporting the Wildcats. The first 1,000 fans to arrive at the BEC on Friday and Saturday nights will recieve a free, white Wildcat t-shirt to support the white-out.

“They’re so physical,” Potulny said when asked his impressions of the Wildcats’ first round opponents. “Their speed is great. Their goaltender played very well when we were down there last time. He gives them a chance to win. They have a great power- play, so our penalty kill has got to be spot-on. At this point in the year, I don’t know that it matters who we’re playing as much as how we are playing.”

Wildcat hockey fans are reminded to go to to cast their vote for Payne. Voting ends March 4.

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