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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.

Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Pizza Cat Vol. 10
Deirdre Northrup-RiestererApril 23, 2024

Hockey: Wildcats, Sun Devils set to face off in Arizona

PUCK+DROP+%E2%80%94+The+Wildcats+will+travel+to+Arizona+this+week+to+face+off+against+the+No.19+Sun+Devils+before+heading+home+to+play+on+the+resized+ice+rink+put+in+over+the+off+season.
Molly Birch/NW
PUCK DROP — The Wildcats will travel to Arizona this week to face off against the No.19 Sun Devils before heading home to play on the resized ice rink put in over the off season.

NMU’s hockey team faced off against the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in a closely contested two-game series over the weekend. Both games provided experience and insight as the team looks ahead to their upcoming road trip to Arizona State. The first game of the weekend ended in a 5-5 tie, and it was a memorable debut for freshman Tanner Latsch, who recorded a natural hat-trick.

Despite the Wildcats’ best efforts, they narrowly fell short to the Bulldogs in a shootout for the first game. The second game saw the Wildcats make a commendable effort but ultimately lose to the Bulldogs with a score of 5-8.

“[The] five-on-five play was good. [The] power play was good,” Head Coach Grant Potulny said. “[The] penalty kill was as bad as it’s ever been … nine of their 13 goals [were] either on the power play or on the penalty kill.”

As the Wildcats shift their focus to the road trip to Arizona State, Potulny emphasized the need for defensive improvement. He expressed his surprise at the defensive struggles, considering the success they had with shorthanded goals last season. He went on to state how shorthanded goals are a major point of emphasis that could have the possibility of costing the team two wins.

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Despite the defensive challenges, Potulny reinforced the Wildcats’ need to remain focused on winning games during their trip to Arizona State. He acknowledged the excitement among players and their families, noting that the change of scenery was eagerly anticipated due to the weather difference in Arizona.

“I think that’ll be good for the guys,” Potulny said. “I know there’s a bunch of people from Northern coming so I want to enjoy the trip as much as we can.”

Potulny discussed Latsch, a player who recently earned a spot on the first line. From Michigan, Latsch had early success but faced challenges when he joined the national team. A series of hip injuries disrupted his path, along with a critical hip surgery.

“He worked extremely hard to get his body in the right physical shape,” Potulny said. “We needed a right-handed shooter on that line, and he fit the bill for that. So [I’m] really happy for him, there [are] still some areas of his five-on-five game because he hasn’t played in a year and a half that are going to come but I’m really happy for him.”

The Wildcats’ home rink in the Berry Events Center also underwent significant updates with the rink size now becoming a hybrid rink. This size falls between the Olympic and NHL standards. Some of these changes enhance player safety and reduce the risk of injuries as new glass and boards provide additional safety measures. The Wildcats will face off against Arizona State on the road in back-to-back games on Friday, Oct. 20 and Saturday, Oct. 21, with both games starting at 9 p.m.

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About the Contributor
Caden Sierra
Caden Sierra, Sports Writer
Hey. My name is Caden and I'm from the Chicagoland area.  I'm currently going into my 3rd year at NMU.  I'm a multimedia production major with a double minor in journalism and criminal justice. For as long as I can remember, I've had a passion for being behind a camera.  It doesn't matter to me whether I'm filming an experimental short film or photographing players at a sporting event. I'm always looking for ways to challenge myself with the next big thing and create a product that I'm proud of.  Having played hockey for most of my life and loving all things sports, I'm super excited to be a part of the North Wind and use both of my passions to improve as a writer. In my free time I’m either playing/watching hockey, looking for new adventures, or relaxing with my friends.