MARQUETTE, Mich.—No. 19 Northern Michigan University (21-12-3, 19-7-2-2 WCHA) is set to host the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs for the first time since the 2011-12 season as the two seed. The University of Alabama-Huntsville (11-12-2, 10-16-2-1 WCHA) will make the trip to the Berry Events Center for the best-of-three quarterfinal series as the seven seed in the league tournament. The first two games of the series will take place Friday and Saturday with a 7 p.m. puck drop in the Berry. Sundays game will also be at 7 p.m. in the Berry, if necessary. Tickets for the first-round series are on sale through all NMU Ticket Outlets.
The theme for every home game throughout the WCHA Playoffs will be a "white out" with fans encouraged to wear white to all of the contests. In addition, the first 1,000 fans to Friday and Saturday's games this week will receive a free Wildcat tee-shirt courtesy of the game sponsors. Friday nights sponsor will be Veridea Group, while Advanced Center for Orthopedics and Plastic Surgery will sponsor Saturday night's contest.
Any youth student that attends a game this weekend is encourage to save their ticket and bring it to the Wildcat Room on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. for pizza party and locker room tour with the team.
Coverage of the contests 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.
20 Wins and Counting. For the for first time since the 2009-10 campaign, the Wildcats reached the 20-win mark during the season with a 21-12-3 record. NMU reached the 20-win plateau after a sweep of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in the penultimate series of the regular season. With the potential for between five and seven games in the WCHA Playoffs, the Wildcats will have an opportunity to win 25 games in a season for the first time since the 2001-02 season.
WCHA Regular Season Standings. Despite being picked to finish seventh in both preseason polls, NMU ended the regular season with the second-best league record. Their 61 points were six shy of preseason favorite Minnesota State University and three better than third-place Bowling Green State University.
Home, Sweet Home. NMU finished the regular season with a 13-2 mark in the Berry Events Center. The last home-ice loss for the Wildcats came against UAH on December 2 with the squad having won nine straight at home. The quarterfinal WCHA Playoff series marks the first time since 2012 the Wildcats have hosted a conference tournament series.
Second Half Success. For the second-consecutive season, the Wildcats had one of the best records in the WCHA after the new year. After the calendar turned to 2018 this season, NMU amassed a 10-3-1 record, including seven-consecutive wins at one point. Last year, NMU was 8-4-2 to end the regular season after the new year before forcing a three-game series against Bemidji State University in the WCHA Playoffs.
Standout Stats. A number of Wildcats rank near the top of various NCAA statistical categories highlighted by junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia). The first-year NMU skater is tied for fourth in the country with 30 assists this season, the most for a Wildcat since the 2009-10 season. Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) is tied for ninth in the country with 20 goals after getting off to a hot start this season. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) has taken the fifth most shots in the NCAA this season with 149 chances at the net. Of those 149 shots, three have resulted in shorthanded goals, tied for the most in the country. With many clutch goals this season, sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) leads the nation with six game-winning goals this season.
Record Book Watch. A number of Wildcats are making their mark on the NMU record book. With a goal on senior night, Robbie Payne became the 35th skater in program history to reach 50 for their career. With 19 wins this season, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) now sits at eighth in NMU history with 37 career wins. Sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) will be entering the record book soon in multiple categories, including career goals, assists, and points by a defenseman.
Potulny in his First Season. Grant Potulny is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. Potulny guided NMU to a 21-12-3 mark overall and 19-7-2-2 record in WCHA play during the regular season. 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 Alabama-Huntsville. The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the Chargers, 16-6-3. The series begins Friday in the Berry where NMU is 8-3-1 all-time against UAH. The Wildcats split four with their quarterfinal opponents, going 1-1 in both series this season.