NMU Hockey receiving votes in preseason USCHO poll

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JOINING THE RANKS—With the season’s start uncertain, the Wildcats are receiving votes in the USCHO polls. NMU is coming off of a 18-16-4 season, but have a lot of experience coming back. Travis Nelson/NW

Travis Nelson

With the start of the 2020-21 hockey season uncertain, the NMU Hockey team won’t start the year ranked in the top 20, but are receiving votes in the United States College Hockey Organization poll.

Head Coach Grant Potulny is entering his fourth season with the Wildcats, and the team’s looking for a better season this year after a disappointing 2-0 series loss to Michigan Tech in the first round of the WCHA Tournament. NMU had a fast start to last year’s campaign with a 6-1-1 record through eight games, but struggled in stretches throughout to finish just above .500 with an 18-16-4 record. 

The season saw many highs and lows, including wins over Boston University and Minnesota State-Mankato, and losses to Alabama-Huntsville and losing five out of six games against Michigan Tech. The Wildcats will be without the three seniors from last year’s squad in defenseman Phil Beaulieu and forwards Luke Voltin and Darien Craighead. The trio combined for 29 of NMU’s 119 goals last season, but that only means that the ‘Cats are returning a lot of offensive power this season.

It could’ve been justifiable to put the Wildcats into the top 20, but them sitting on the outside looking in speaks about the talent of the college hockey landscape. Mankato (4) and Bemidji State (16) are the two WCHA teams that are ranked in the poll, where Bowling Green, NMU and Michigan Tech are receiving votes.

The Wildcats will be in contention for the WCHA title, and a season full of USCHO top 20 appearances, but once the season does start, there will be stiff competition.