Wildcats Continue Early Road Schedule with #4 St. Cloud State

Wildcats Continue Early Road Schedule with #4 St. Cloud State

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (1-1-0, 0-0-0-0 WCHA) continues their four-game road trip to begin the 2018-19 campaign this weekend when they travel to No. 4 St. Cloud State University (2-0-0, 0-0-0-0 NCHA). Friday's contest is set for 8:07 p.m. (EDT) at the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center, while puck-drop on Saturday is set for 7:07 p.m.

For complete game notes, click HERE.


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/2AeKFF8
Live Video: https://bit.ly/2J1ehIX
Live Audio: https://bit.ly/2oibr8T


The Wildcats began their 2018-19 campaign with a series split against Michigan State University on the road. In the season opener for both teams on Friday, NMU surrendered a pair of late goals to drop the contest, 4-2. Senior defenseman Tony Bretzman (Mendota Height, Minnesota) and junior forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) netted the two Wildcat goals in the matchup.

NMU earned their first victory of the season and sealed a series split on Saturday with a 4-2 win. Sophomore forward Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alberta) put the Wildcats ahead with a first period goal, while a pair of special team goals from senior forwards Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and Denver Pierce (Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan) put NMU ahead, 3-1, after two periods. After the Spartans tied the game early in the third period, Craighead netted the game-winner and his second goal of the series six-minutes into the final period.


The Wildcats continue to thrive in the special teams in 2018-19 highlighted by three such goals in Saturday's victory. Rockwood's goal was shorthanded making NMU one of 14 teams in the country to net a shorthanded goal this season. Last season, the Wildcats netted nine shorthanded goals to lead the NCAA.

Both of the next two Wildcat goals in Saturday's game came in the power-play. Last season, NMU netted 39 power-play goals on the season, good enough for a 20.1% conversion rate.


Junior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) returns for the Wildcat defense after being named Second-Team All-American after leading NCAA Division I defensemen in points with 42 and assists with 31 a season ago. He 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 who saw action on 40 games over three seasons at the University of Notre Dame.


Senior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) returns for his final season in a Wildcat jersey in 2018-19. In the team's first series of the season, Tolvanen started both contests in in-goal for NMU and made 67 total saves. His total saves are the 10th-most in the NCAA after the first two weeks of the season, while his save percentage and goals against average sit at .918 and 3.01.

Already firmly cemented in the Wildcat history, Tolvanen 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.


Six freshmen saw the ice on at least one of the two games to begin the 2018-19 season, all forwards. The lone freshman to record a point against Michigan St. was Ty Readman (Edmonton, Alberta) who earned his point on the Wildcat's first goal of the season.

Readman played in both contests over the weekend along with fellow freshman forwards Jarrett Lee (Hibbing, Minnesota), Griffin Loughran (West Seneca, New York), Garrett Klee (Morrison, Colorado), and Vincent de Mey (Los Angeles, California). Playing in the opening matchup of the series was Grant Loven (East Grand Forks, Minnesota).


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.


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.


It has been a nearly even all-time series between the two programs with the Huskies owning a 19-21-1 series lead. It will be the first series between the two teams since the 2013 campaign, but the Wildcats have won four-consecutive meetings dating back to October of 2011.