Hockey: NMU, Alaska Fairbanks split weekend 1-1


Lily Gouin/NW

RIVAL – The Cats’ head to Sault Ste. Marie this weekend to face off against Lake Superior State.

Lily Gouin

The men’s hockey team faced the University of Alaska Fairbanks this past weekend and came up with mixed results as the Cats’ sit at 5-5 on the season. The ‘Cats lost on Friday night 1-2 and won 3-2 Saturday night with Friday night’s lone Wildcat goal being scored by freshman forward Joey Larson.  

The three Wildcat goals made on Saturday night came from senior forward David Keefer, junior forward Artem Shaline and defenseman freshman Josh Zinger. Senior forward AJ Vanderbeck was back on the ice on Saturday night after not playing Friday night. Vanderbeck assisted on two of the ‘Cats’ goals.

“When [Vanderbeck] is on, there’s no doubt he’s one of the top offensive players in the country … He sees the rink extremely well. It makes players around them better and that opens up stuff around the rink, and I thought he did a really good job of distributing the puck and getting to other people,” associate head coach Byron Pool said.

The University of Alaska Fairbanks was the last team not in the CCHA conference the ‘Cats will play this year. The rest of the Wildcat games this season are all conference games, each one being important when the post season rolls around in a few months. 

“Hopefully now we’re seeing steps forward in our game and now you have to start building that in the conference, because at the end of the day, you want to get to the NCAA tournament and the best way to do that is through your league,” Pool said.

The Wildcats are focused on the CCHA matchups with the hope of placing high in the conference. The ‘Cats are also focused on being the best team in the U.P. with Lake Superior State and Michigan Tech being the main rivals.

“I think having the pride in the U.P., wanting to be at the U.P. champ and including them in that rivalry – I think that’s going to go a long way in for us to have the performance that we want to see against them,” Pool said.

The Wildcats travel to Sault Ste. Marie this upcoming weekend to take on the Lakers of Lake Superior State University. The game on Friday, Nov. 5, starts at 7:07 p.m. and on Nov. 6 the game starts at 6:07 p.m. 

“Lake State is very good hockey team. They’re well coached, they’re disciplined,” Pool said. “You’re going to have to come through numbers if you’re not going to lose people.”

Friday, Nov. 11, the ‘Cats are back at home facing off against another CCHA rival Bemidji State University. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. in the Berry Events Center and at 6:07 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 12.