WCHA Championship Set for Saturday in the Berry

WCHA Championship Set for Saturday in the Berry

MARQUETTE, Mich.—No. 16 Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (25-14-3, 19-7-2-2 WCHA) will close out the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs with a one game championship against rival Michigan Technological University (21-16-5, 12-11-5-2 WCHA). The all-Upper Peninsula WCHA Championship will be held Saturday evening in the Berry Events Center with a puck drop scheduled for 7:07 p.m.

The "White Out" will continue for Saturday's contest with fans encouraged to wear white. Every fan that enters the Berry on Saturday will receive a white Wildcat rally towel courtesy of the game sponsor, Upper Peninsula Health Plan.

Due to the expected size of the crowd, purses and bags are limited 8.5-by-11 inches in size. Additionally, all bags are subject to inspection which may cause delayed acces to the Berry Events Center. 

A free watch party will be held in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center on campus for Saturday's contests. The doors will open at 6 p.m. with the first 500 fans also receiving a Wildcat rally towel. The WCHA Championship will be shown on big screens with concessions also being sold.  

An additional Wildcat Luncheon will be held Friday afternoon in the Wildcat Room of the Berry Events Center. The event will begin at 11:30 a.m. and is $15 per person to attend with the menu including chicken, pasta, salad, and fruit. NMU Hockey head coach Grant Potulny will be speaking to open the luncheon followed by WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson.

Coverage of the contests can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats. 

Weekly Notes:
For complete game notes, click HERE.

WCHA Championship. The WCHA Championship game will be one game between Upper Peninsula rivals Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech. The winner of the contest will receive an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament to begin next weekend. The Wildcats have not appeared in the conference championship since 2010 and have not won a conference tournament since 1991.

WCHA Quarterfinals Recap. For the second-consecutive series, NMU exploded on the offensive end, earning a 6-1 win on Friday. Junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) lead the way with three points each, while senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) scored a pair of goals. After being shut out on Saturday, the Wildcats bounced back with a overtime victory on Sunday, courtesy of a junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) goal with five minutes to play in the overtime period.

"Of the Year" Awards. After the semifinals series, a NMU earned a pair of postseason awards with junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) earning league Goaltender of the Year honors and head coach Grant Potulny unanimously being named WCHA Coach of the year. Now sitting at 23-9-1 for the season, Tolvanen is currently tied for the fifth-most wins for a single campaign in program history. His 2.25 goals against average this year is also the fifth best in Wildcats history. Potulny guided the team to a 21-12-3 mark during the regular season with a 19-7-2-2 record in WCHA action. It is the fifth time in Wildcat hockey history that the head coach has earned league coach of the year honors as Rick Comley did so four times, twice in the WCHA and twice in the CCHA.

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 25-14-3, the Wildcats amassed 25 wins for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Home, Sweet Home. NMU finished the regular season with a 13-2 mark in the Berry Events Center. After hosting two WCHA Playoff series that went three games, NMU is now 17-4 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.

Potulny in his First Season. Grant Potulny is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. Potulny guided NMU to a 25-14-3 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 Michigan Tech. The Wildcats lead the all-time series with the Huskies, 72-62-14. The one game championships will be held in the Berry where NMU is 40-24-6 against MTU. The last time the two programs squared off in the conference tournament was in 1994 when the Huskies earned a 5-1 victory in the WCHA quarterfinals.