MARQUETTE, Mich.—No. 20 Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (6-4, 4-2 WCHA) will make the long trip to the University of Alaska Fairbanks (3-7-2, 1-4-1 WCHA) Friday and Saturday. The Western Collegiate Hockey Association contests will begin later in the evening with the time change in Alaska. The puck drop will drop for both contests at 11:07 p.m. EDT.
Coverage of the contest can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats.
For Complete game notes, click HERE.
Weekend Recap. The Wildcats split a weekend home-and-home series with Michigan Tech which saw each team take a victory on their home ice. On Friday, NMU fell, 4-1, but freshman forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) scored his first collegiate goal in the game. Nardi again scored the first goal of Saturday's 4-0 shutout over the Huskies. Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) scored the next two goals, while senior forward Filip Starzynski (Warsaw, Poland) found the back of the net for the first time in 2017 for the team's final score.
Among the Nation's Best. For the third time in 2017, Payne scored a pair of goals in Saturday's victory over the Huskies. The two scores give Payne nine for the year, which is enough to tie the senior captain for third in the country. Payne's goal total also leads the WCHA by two scores. Additionally, his 12 points are tied for fourth-best in the conference.
Tolvanen's Return. After sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby, Sweden) earned the start in back-to-back games, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) started Saturday's home contest against MTU. Tolvanen recorded his second shutout of the season while making 19 saves in his return. His save percentage increased to .916, while his goals against average improved to 2.40.
Perfecting the Penalty Kill. The Wildcats have held opponents scoreless in their past 14 power-play chances, shoring up the special teams. In the past two series, NMU is 18-19 in the penalty kill. In the same four-game span, the Wildcats have three power-play scores.
Receiving Votes. In the latest rankings, the Wildcats remain at #20 in the USCHO.com Poll. NMU entered the national rankings for the first time since the 2014-15 campaign appearing at #20 in last week's edition of the USCHO.com Poll. In the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Poll, the Wildcats received six points after receiving nine a week ago.
Early Season Success. Despite being tabbed to finish seventh in both preseason WCHA polls, the Wildcats currently sit in a tie for third after six conference contests. NMU is tied with Michigan Tech as both programs have nine points in conference play. Bowling Green and Minnesota St. both have 12 to lead the conference.
Potulny in his First Season. Grant Potulny is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. Potulny owns a 6-4 mark overall and 4-2 record in WCHA play at NMU. As an eight-year assistant coach at his alma mater, Minnesota, Potulny helped the Gophers to a 182-105-26 (.623) record and two Frozen Four appearances.
NMU versus Fairbanks. The Wildcats own a 35-13-12 mark in 60 matchups with the Nanooks. Currently, NMU owns a three-game win streak over Fairbanks having earned a pair of shutouts in their last series in February of this year which took place in the Berry Events Center. The two teams split the last series played in Fairbanks with each team earning a 5-2 victory.