MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The Northern Michigan University Sports Hall of Fame will induct four new members on Saturday, April 26, in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center. The event will once again be held in conjunction with the Student-Athlete Awards Banquet. The dinner begins at 6 p.m. and program will follow.
The fourth inductee into the class of 2014 is Tuomas Tarkki who played for the NMU hockey team from 2001-05 and turned in one of the best single-season performances by an NMU goalie in program history.
During the 2003-04 season, Tarkki was the backup before Craig Kowalski went down with an injury in the first five minutes of the final regular-season game. Tarkki came into that game and recorded 28 saves.
Tarkki took over as the regular starter through five games of the playoffs and recorded 169 saves during the Wildcats’ playoff run.
Tarkki went on to become the regular starter the following season and set NMU single-season records with a .930 save percentage and a 2.07 goals against average. That year, Tarkki was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the best NCAA Division I hockey player in the nation. He was a second team All-American, was named the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Player of the Year, CCHA Goalie of the Year and was a first team All-CCHA selection. He led the league in both goals against average and save percentage, and had 20-8-5 overall record, including three shutouts.
Tarkki concluded the 2005 campaign ranked nationally in save percentage (fourth) and goals against average (10th). He finished his career at the top of the NMU record books in save percentage (.924) and goals against average (2.24).
After graduating from NMU, Tarkki played professionally for the Gwinnett Gladiators of the East Coast Hockey League and the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. He played in seven games for the Gladiators where he had one shutout, 201 saves and a .910 save percentage before departing for Chicago.
When asked to describe Tarkki, NMU head coach Walt Kyle said his former player’s patience and dedication paid off.
"Tuomas Tarkki is the ultimate story of the perseverance by an athlete at Northern Michigan. He spent his first three years as a backup with little chance to make an impact. The end of the season in the first round of the playoffs he was forced to play both games due to an injury to Craig Kowalski and he was phenomenal, leading us to an upset of Alaska Fairbanks and to the league finals at Joe Louis.
“The next season he took the starting job and never looked back, having possibly the greatest season ever by an NMU goaltender. It was remarkable to see him emerge from nowhere to the elite level player he became.
“Tuomas was a consummate worker in all aspects of his life, a great student, a great goaltender and an excellent teammate. We are so proud and happy for him to be selected into the Hall of Fame, a very deserving award,” Kyle said.
Tarkki finished the 2005-06 season with Chicago and appeared in 31 games recording 719 saves with a save percentage of .888.
Since 2006, Tarkki has played professionally in Europe, including for MODO Ornskoldsvik of the Swedish Hockey League in 2010-11, HC Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk of Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League in 2011-12 and currently with JYP Jyväskylä Oy of the Finnish SM-liiga League in his native Finland.
Tarkki graduated from NMU in 2005 with a degree in health education. He is married to Saija and the couple have a son, Marius.
Tickets for the evening are $20 for adults. They can be purchased at the NMU Superior Dome Ticket Office or by calling 906-227-1032. The Sports Hall of Fame and Student-Athlete Awards Banquet is sponsored by Superior Oasis, Hit Trophy and Downtown Eye Care.