MARQUETTE, Mich. - Northern Michigan University gets set to host Michigan State of the Big Ten conference this weekend in hockey’s home opener. Puck drop for Friday night is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. before moving to 6:07 p.m. on Saturday.
|AGAINST THE SPARTANS|
Former CCHA foes, the Wildcats and Spartans have met 71 times in program history, with Michigan State holding the narrow edge in the all-time series, 36-31-4. Their last meeting came on October 13, 2018 in East Lansing, with the Wildcats reigning victorious in that contest with a 4-3 final at Munn Ice Arena for the series split.
Junior Joseph Nardi opened the scoring in their last meeting while senior Darien Craighead netted the game-winner with 13:31 to go in the final period with a power-play goal. Craighead tied for the team lead in points with a goal and an assist in the Wildcat victory.
|LAST TIME OUT|
The Wildcats are coming off a 4-3 victory at USA Hockey Arena where they took on the USNTDP U18 team in their lone exhibition of the season. Nine Northern Michigan players added their name to the box score, including three freshmen. Newcomer to the team, Andre Ghantous led the team in points with two (1-1-2) while finishing second in total shots with five.
Two goaltenders found time in net during the game, with Nolan Kent getting the starting nod, recording ten saves and a .909 save percentage before John Hawhthorne took over between the pipes, stopping 15 of 17 shots for a .882 save percentage.
|BEFORE THE PUCK DROPS|
The season gets underway with a series of fun pre-game activities hosted by the Northern Michigan University Athletics Department. Prior to both Michigan State games, a family-fun tailgate presented by Flagstar Bank will take place in front of the Berry Events Center off of Fair Ave.
Friday’s festivities begin at 4:30 and include a pep rally featuring a DJ and Emcee, as well as appearances from Wildcat Willy, NMU Cheerleaders and head coach Grant Potulny.
Blackrocks Brewery and the Ore Dock Brewing Company will sponsor a craft beer tent for those fans 21 and over.
|NEW IN 2019-20|
New this season, a hospitality room will be available for fans to purchase tickets to ahead of time. Located in the Wildcat Room of the Berry Events Center, admission will include a pre-game dinner buffet, bar, snacks and coat check.
Single game tickets are now on sale for the NMU Hockey Hospitality Room and can only be purchased in advance of the game not on the night of the game.
- Single game tickets are $30 per ticket/person
- Season tickets are $360 per ticket/person
- Half season tickets are $200 per ticket/person (either Friday or Saturday)
Your ticket to the hospitality room includes:
- Pre-game dinner buffet (e.g., burger bar, gourmet pizza, pulled pork station, etc.) served from 5:45 - 7:07 p.m. on Fridays and 4:45 - 6:07 p.m. on Saturdays
- 2 drink tickets per game (i.e., soda, water, beer, wine, and call liquor) to be used during pre-game or intermissions
- Coat check
- Intermission snacks (e.g., pretzels, popcorn, etc.)
Tickets can be purchased through NMU ticketing (online at tickets.nmu.edu or through the various ticket outlets). The NMU Ticket Office at the Berry Events Center is open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by calling 906-227-1032. Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available the night of the game.
-Tickets are limited and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.
-Entrance to the room will be limited to ticket-bearers, alcohol sales will be limited to those over 21 with valid ID.
-Tickets are issued on a game-by-game basis (similarly to hockey tickets). The ticket bearer will then be exchange their ticket at the entrance to the Wildcat Room for drink tickets and room access for the night. This will also then allow you to have the flexibility to have different users use the tickets on different nights if you use the season ticket option (similarly to season hockey tickets).
-Tickets must be purchased in advance and will not be available the night of the game.
|ON THE RETURNERS|
Seventeen members of the 2018-19 squad will lace their skates up again for the Wildcats this season. Nolan Kent looks strong in net as the last line of defense, taking over for all-time Wildcat program leader Atte Tolvanen who was named WCHA Goaltender of the Year in 2018-19. On the blueline, the Wildcats return three members of last season's team, including reigning WCHA Defenseman of the Year in senior captain Philip Beaulieu. He is joined by fellow senior Rylan Yaremko and junior Adam Roeder. Eleven Wildcats are back at the front, in two seniors, three juniors and six sophomores. The offense talent amassed 114 of the Wildcats' total 282 points last season.
The Wildcats add nine newcomers to the team in 2019-20 as well as junior defenseman, Ben Newhouse, who sat out the 2018-19 season due to transfer requirements. The team also added three goaltenders in the offseason, two of which look to split time between the pipes with sophomore netminder, Nolan Kent.
|MAKING UP POINTS|
In the off-season, Northern Michigan lost 46% of their point-scoring to graduation but the 2019-20 squad seems poised to fill those shoes. Two rising seniors made up part of the team's top-five scorers last year in Philip Beaulieu (6-29-35) and Darien Craighead (10-10-20). The veteran duo now looks to lead the young team to even more time in the offensive zone
The Wildcats were pegged to finish fourth in the WCHA this season as voted on by the league's coaches in the 2019-20 Mankato Free Press WCHA Preseason Coaches' Poll. The media picked Northern Michigan to finish third through the regular season, behind only unanimous favorite Minnesota State and Bowling Green.
Having served as an alternate captain in 2018-19, senior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minn.) was named captain of the 2019-20 squad prior to the season.
|YEAR THREE UNDER COACH POTULNY|
The third head coach in NMU Hockey history enters his third season behind the bench in 2019-20. In two seasons with the team, Potulny has led the Wildcats to two 20+ win seasons and boasts a career head coaching record of 46-31-5. Last season the team went 21-16-2, which included a berth in the WCHA semifinals where they faced Bowling Green. In his first season at the helm of the Wildcats, Potulny's team recorded a 25-15-3 season, it's first 25-win season since 2001-02 and advanced to the WCHA Championship game.
The men make their first road trip of the regular season next weekend as they jet off to Boston, Massachusetts to face the Terriors of Boston University. The Wildcats lead the all-time series with a 6-3-1 record. The puck is set to drop on Friday, October 18 at 7:30 p.m. before a 7 p.m. start the following day.