MARQUETTE, Mich.—No. 19 Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (23-13-3, 19-7-2-2 WCHA) is set to host the second round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs this weekend in the Berry Events Center. The best-of-three semifinal series will bring the three-seed Bowling Green State University (22-10-6, 17-6-5-2 WCHA) to town Friday and Saturday for a 7 p.m. puck drop. If a third game is needed to decide a winner, that contest will also be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday.
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 night's sponsor will be the Mining Journal, while Q107-WMQT and ESPN UP will sponsor Saturday night's contest.
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.
WCHA Quarterfinals. For the first time since the 2012, the Wildcats earned a postseason series victory by defeating the University of Alabama-Huntsville over the weekend. NMU exploded out of the gate with seven goals on Friday to defeat the Chargers. UAH forced a third game in the series on a game-winning goal with less than 30 second to play in regulation in Saturday's contest. A pair of power play goals late in the second period on Sunday helped push the Wildcats to a 5-2 victory, sending them to the WCHA Playoffs semifinal round.
More Weekly Honors. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) was named WCHA Offensive Player of the Week, while sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) was honored with the defensive award after the series win over UAH. Loggins scored seven points in three games including a career-high four on Sunday. Beaulieu led the Wildcats and the NCAA with eight points over the weekend. NMU has now earned 11 weekly conference awards this season with senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) and senior defenseman Jordan Klimek (Langley, British Columbia) each earning a pair.
20 Wins and Counting. For the for first time since the 2009-10 campaign, the Wildcats reached the 20-win mark with a 21-12-3 record during the regular season. NMU reached the 20-win plateau after a sweep of the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in the penultimate series of the regular season. Now sitting at 23-13-3, the Wildcats will have an opportunity to win 25 games in a season for the first time since the 2001-02 campaign.
Home, Sweet Home. NMU finished the regular season with a 13-2 mark in the Berry Events Center. After hosting the WCHA Playoff first round series, NMU is now 15-3 on their home ice during the 2017-18 campaign.
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.
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 21 wins this season, junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) now sits tied for sixth in NMU history with 39 career wins. Philip Beaulieu 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 Bowling Green. Despite winning the past four matchups, the Wildcats trail in the all-time series with the Falcons, 45-48-9. A season ago, NMU earned a pair of shutout victories on the road. This season, NMU earned a 5-2 victory in the Berry before capturing an overtime victory on a goal with seven seconds remaining in the OT period. The last time the two programs met in the post season, BGSU earned a WCHA Playoff quarterfinal sweep of NMU in Bowling Green back in 2015.