Wildcats Set to Open 2018-19 Campaign Against In-State Rival

Wildcats Set to Open 2018-19 Campaign Against In-State Rival

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey begins their 2018-19 campaign this weekend when the head to Michigan State University Friday and Saturday evenings. Both contests will be held at 7:05 p.m. in Munn Ice Arena. It will be the first time the Wildcats have taken the ice since hosting the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Championship in March and finishing with their best season since 2001-02. 

For complete game notes, click HERE.

  FOLLOW ALONG

Fans can follow both contests this weekend using the links below. These links can also be found on the team schedule or composite calendar at NMUwildcats.com. 

Twitter Updates: https://twitter.com/NMU_Wildcats
Live Stats: https://bit.ly/1C1fh3O
Live Video: http://bit.ly/2OVPPdY
Live Audio: https://bit.ly/2oibr8T

  HISTORIC 2017-18

NMU completed last season with a 25-15-3 overall record, amassing 25 wins for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Additionally, NMU entered the national rankings for the first time since the 2014-15, reaching as high as No. 16 in the USCHO.com Poll.

Despite being picked to finish seventh in both preseason polls, the Wildcats finished the year with a 19-7-2-2 mark in Western Collegiate Hockey Association action to earn the second seed in the WCHA Playoffs. After a pair of postseason series wins that went three games, NMU advanced to the conference championship game for the first time since 2010.

  PRESEASON RANKINGS

The Wildcats were chosen to finish second in the WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll and third in the UAHHockey.com Preseason Media Poll. Minnesota State University Mankato was the top pick in both polls, while NMU and Bowling Green State University flipped between second and third in the two polls.

   2018-19 CAPTAINS

A trio of Wildcats were named captains for the 2018-19 season after a vote by their teammates. Senior forward Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) will be the captains for this year's campaign. Senior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and junior defensemen Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) were named alternate captains.

  RETURNING OFFENSE

NMU will return five all-conference honorees, league goaltender of the year, and an All-American. The Wildcats will also return their top-four point scorers from last season and nearly 75-perent of their goal scoring production. 

Adam Rockwood led the Wildcats with 48 points a season ago, while his 40 assists were the most in the NCAA Division I. Not for behind, senior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) recorded 47 points and is the top returning goal scorer after netting 23 goals last season. Philip Beaulieu and junior forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) round out last season's top-four point scorers after they earned 42 and 34, respectively.

  ALL-AMERICAN LEADS THE DEFENSE

A total of 15 All-Americans, the most ever, return to college hockey for the 2018-19 season. The Wildcats are lucky enough to have one of those 15 skaters in Philip Beaulieu. He was named Second-Team All-American after leading NCAA Division I defensemen in points with 42 and assists with 31. Beaulieu was named a WCHA Defensive Player of the Week on three occasions in 2017-18 and was named Second-Team All-WCHA after the regular season.

Beaulieu will anchor the NMU defense along with a trio of returning senior defensemen in Ryan Black (Stillwater, Minnesota), James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta), and Connor Frantti (Spring Grove, Illinois). That core will be joined by graduate transfer Tony Bretzman (Mendota Height, Minnesota) who saw action on 40 games over three seasons at the University of Notre Dame.

  HE'S STILL HERE

Already firmly cemented in the Wildcat record book, senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) returns for his final season in a wildcat jersey. He is in the top-10 of each career goaltender category in the NMU record book. Last season, he was named First-Team All-WCHA at the end of the season after recording a 23-10-1 record which were the fourth-most wins in the NCAA. As a sophomore, Tolvanen set an NCAA record for consecutive shutout victories with five spanning from January 21 through February 11 of 2017.

  POTULNY IN HIS SECOND SEASON

Grant Potulny enters his second season at the helm of the Wildcats after leading a program turnaround in 2017-18. In his first season, the Wildcats advanced to the WCHA Championship game and finished the year with a 25-15-3 overall record. Prior to NMU, Potulny was an eight-year assistant at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota.

  NMU VERSUS MICHIGAN ST.

The series will mark the first time the two teams have met since 2015 when NMU earned a 2-1 overtime victory at the Great Lakes Invitation. The Spartan own the all-time series with a 30-35-4 record, but the Wildcats have had the upper hand in recent memory with a 12-6-2 mark in the last 20 meetings.

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