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The North Wind

The North Wind

The North Wind

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Abigail Faix
Abigail Faix
Features Editor

My name is Abby, I am a fourth-year student at Northern. I am studying Multimedia Journalism with a minor in Political Science. I've always been passionate about journalism since I was in high school....

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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.

NEVER STOP RUNNING — Many people turn to the treadmill once temperatures start to drop. The truth is, with proper protection, you can keep running outside as long as youd like.
Opinion — Outdoor exercise in the chilly seasons
Harry StineDecember 5, 2023

Wildcats’ Hockey rides momentum into WCHA Semifinal game with No. 3 Mankato

WCHA SEMIFINAL TRIP—NMU scored two goals against Michigan Tech back on Feb. 27, and the Wildcats had no trouble scoring this past weekend against Bowling Green. Now with Minnesota State awaiting them in the WCHA Tournament Semifinals, a similar performance would do the ‘Cats wonders. Travis Nelson/NW

The NMU Hockey team is on a surge late in the season, and that surge will run right into the third-ranked team in the country, Minnesota State-Mankato University.

Northern comes off of a big series win over Bowling Green State University in the first round of the WCHA Tournament, and the ‘Cats are playing with confidence heading into the semis. It will serve them well on the road trip to Minnesota, but the Mavericks are a level above the rest of the league.

“Player of the year, goalie of the year, coach of the year, hasn’t lost at home. You’ve got to respect them, you’ve got to respect what they’ve done, you’ve got to understand the way that the game’s got to go,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said. “We’re coming into this game without three of our defenseman, without the conference’s leading scorer from last year probably [Loughran], with a bunch of youth and we’re going to play our best. I think Bowling Green is a heck of a hockey team, and we went into that game just kind of feeling that we’re going to play the best we can and whatever the outcome, we’ll live with it.”

Of the many compliments of Minnesota State, it’s worth noting that many of those qualities could be attributed to Bowling Green as well, but the Falcons were taken out by NMU. That was in a three-game series, and now with a single game, anything can happen in March.

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“It’s definitely more exciting for one game, with a three-game series you can kind of make adjustments and stuff but for the one game against Minnesota State, it’s going to be interesting because you just got to lay everything down and see who’s got the better cards at the end,” junior forward Vincent de Mey said.

Looking back at the mindset of this Wildcats’ team, the team’s dialed in on what they need to focus on and what they can control, freshman goaltender Rico DiMatteo said. Even though Mankato presents a mighty challenge, the ‘Cats should lean on what’s helped them navigate through this stretch.

“I don’t think it’s anything different than what we’ve been doing, so obviously we’re going to do our job to prescout them the best we can and formulate a game plan to suit them and give us the best chance to overcome that challenge of beating them,” DiMatteo said. “It’s super exciting, I think our whole team is super excited to play them especially since they’re a team that I think everyone’s gunning for at this point and for us to have them in the semifinal I think helps us in a way. It’ll motivate us, and if we get by them it’ll kind of slingshot us into the next round and hopefully give us the energy we need to win the whole thing.”

Last week, Potulny spoke about how his forwards were going to have to perform at a high level against Bowling Green while being short handed at defenseman. Scoring 9 goals in two games qualifies as high level, but with defensemen not coming anytime soon with injuries, the same task lies ahead for the NMU’s scorers.

“The games we won, a total of nine goals, but probably the biggest thing was the way that we allowed our defenseman to play in the front half of the rink. When you’re down five defenseman and the first night we didn’t have Sorensen, and in the second of two nights we kind of only played five and on Sunday just how it worked, you could hear the guys on the bench, the forwards on the bench, they understood it,” Potulny said. “They knew what was at stake and nothing changes this weekend, the cavalry’s not coming so it’s going to have to be the same way.”

When talking about how you want to perform in a game, saying to play great is as cliche as it gets. Not for this NMU team, they’re keeping the message simple heading into this game. The Mavericks are deservedly highly-touted, and when it comes to beating them, the ‘Cats will need a great performance. They had one against Bowling Green less than a week ago, and that’s too short notice to be forgotten.

“Just play great, that’s how you’re going to win. Every team now at this point in the season, you just have to play great and it’s not a just because it’s a tough task but we have to play great and that will give us the best chance to win against this great team,” de Mey said.

If the Wildcats are able to knock off Minnesota State in Cinderella fashion, they’d be just one win away from their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2010. Two wins in two days could take them there, but that won’t come without the challenge of playing two of the best teams that the WCHA has to offer. Mankato might have a target on its back, but NMU isn’t flying under the radar anymore.

“I definitely think we’ve proven ourselves and kind of earned some respect here throughout the league from the past couple of series we’ve played. We’ve beat some good teams and I think because of that we think we can beat anybody, and right now I think anybody can beat anybody and that’s kind of the theme when it comes playoff time in any league,” DiMatteo said. “Whoever’s playing the best hockey is going to win. I know we’re playing good hockey right now and we’re confident in what we do.”

NMU and Minnesota State square off on Friday, March 19 in Mankato, Minnesota at 3:07 p.m. The winner will face the other semifinal’s winner between Lake Superior State University and Bemidji State University in Saturday night’s WCHA Championship game with an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament on the line. With the stakes at their highest, so is NMU’s confidence.

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