Wildcat ice hockey to begin home season

Photo+courtesy+of+NMU+Athletics%0A%0AJunior+defenseman+Philip+Beaulieu+celebrates+with+teammates+after+scoring+a+goal+last+season.

Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics Junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal last season.

Alex Skinner

It was a tough weekend for the
Northern Michigan University
Men’s Ice Hockey team who went
on the road to take on the No. 4
ranked St. Cloud State Huskies.
The ’Cats dropped game one of
the series 4-1 before dropping
Saturday’s matchup 5-0.

Despite the losses, NMU head
coach Grant Potulny believes that
these are the kind of matchups
you need to play to evaluate
your team.

“I want to play teams that
are going to be there at the end
because if you want to be at the
end, this is who you have to beat,”
Potulny said. “As much as you’re
disappointed by the outcome, I
think you can still get a lot out
of it.”

St. Cloud State was number
one in the nation last season
heading into the NCAA Division
I Championship Tournament but
was upset in the first round by the
Air Force Academy.

With the Wildcats hitting the
road for the second weekend in
a row to start the season, Potulny
knew the Huskies would be
putting together another strong
team to start the 2018-19 season.
“I saw a lot of really, really
high-profile teams when I was at
my old job [Minnesota], whether

it was Boston College, North Dakota, Michigan, whoever,” Potulny said. “I really can’t remember

a team [St. Cloud State] that was
dialed in and that deep to start
the season.”

The Wildcats were badly
outshot Friday night, an area
they have severely digressed in
from last season. St. Cloud State
put 33 shots on net compared to
NMU’s 21.

Just before the end of the
period, the Wildcats connected
on a power-play opportunity to
cut the deficit back to a pair. With
the man advantage, freshman
forward Griffin Loughran scored
his first collegiate goal with 11
seconds remaining in the second
period with assists going to
senior defenseman Ryan Black
and sophomore forward Mitchel
Slattery. For Black, it was his
second assist of the season.
For the Wildcats, Loughran’s
goal would be their only score of
the weekend.

The Huskies would continue
their domination in the series
Saturday night once again
outshooting the Wildcats, this
time by a wide 31-10 margin.
The Huskies scored twice in the
first and third periods and once in
the second.

Despite the less-than-stellar
performances, Potulny is aware
that these aren’t the games that

will define this team.

“The good thing is that there’s
a lot of hockey left,” Potulny said.
“Like I said to the guys, the sky’s
not falling. Wildcat hockey is in a
good place as long as we come to
the rink and you guys just work.
All I want is work. Don’t worry
about anything else. Just worry
about working at practice, today
or tomorrow or whenever the
next one is.”

The Wildcats are back skating
on home ice this weekend as the
team opens WCHA conference

play against the Bemidji State
Beavers. A season ago, the Beavers
finished fourth in the conference
and fell in the first round against
Michigan Tech.

“You know exactly how they’re
going to play,” Potulny said on
Bemidji State. “They’re going to
play staunch defense and they’re
not going to give you anything.
You’re going to have to earn
everything you get.”

NMU finished with the best
home record in the WCHA
conference with a mark of

17-5 and the team hopes the
encouraging atmosphere inside
the Berry Events Center can help
jumpstart the team after a slow
start to the season.

“Just because you’re home
doesn’t mean you’re going to
win,” Potulny said. “You have to
play the right way and you have
to play well to beat anybody.
Especially this weekend, we’re
going to need to play well.”

Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.
on both Friday, Oct. 26, and
Saturday, Oct. 27.