Wildcats head to Plymouth for exhibition


ICE DEBUT—NMU Men’s Hockey team prepares for exhibition game against some of the most talented teenage hockey players of the nation. Photo courtesy of NMU Athletics.

Travis Nelson

As the leaves take on their new shades, NMU Men’s Hockey team gets ready to lace up their skates in a preseason tune-up game.

The team will compete in an exhibition game against the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) U-18 team at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 in Plymouth, Michigan. 

The USNTDP is home to some of the most talented teenage hockey players in the nation. Head coach Grant Potulny and his squad have not participated in an exhibition yet in his career at NMU, but now in his third season, this will be some test. 

“Going into last year I thought we actually had a good camp, but the first game of the year we just weren’t battle tested, and it took us half a game to kind of find our legs, so I’m looking forward to this game,” Potulny said.

This will be an opportunity for some of his players to make a good first impression on their teammates and the coaching staff, Potulny said. The USNTDP sends kids to the NHL like postage stamps, as last season the team had eight NHL first round picks.

“There’s not a team in the history of college hockey to have eight first round picks, it’ll be a good challenge for us,” Potulny said.

Expectations are high as this will be the team’s best chance to really prepare for Michigan State. Playing another opponent live is a great opportunity, and Potulny wants to see his team play at a high level.

“Special teams are going to be important, you’re still kind of putting pieces together there, we’re still working through a little bit of line combinations,” Potulny said. “But I just want to see guys compete, I want to see them execute and make plays at a high pace.”

Following the preseason matchup, the Wildcats will host MSU on Friday, Oct. 11.