MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Northern Michigan hockey team travels to Minnesota State for its second-to-last series of the 2016-17 regular season. Both games are slated to start at 8:07 p.m. (7:07 CT).
The full media notes can be read here.
Before Saturday's game, the Northern Michigan Alumni Association will host a pre-game reception at Pub 500 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. RSVP here.
The Last Time Out
Atte Tolvanen made history last weekend at the Berry Events Center, tying the NCAA men's record by running his shutout streak to five games. He stopped all 87 shots he faced during the Wildcats' series with Alaska-Fairbanks, including a career-best 48 during his record-tying effort on Feb. 11.
Tolvanen, who broke the WCHA men's record for consecutive scoreless minutes on Feb. 10 and the record for consecutive shutouts on Feb. 11, has now gone 335:39 minutes without allowing a goal by turning aside 215-straight shots.
Robbie Payne netted four of Northern Michigan's five goals during its series with the Nanooks. In Feb. 10's 3-0 victory, he found the back of the net during the first five minutes of the middle and final frames. On Feb. 11, he scored two goals in a four-minute window during the second period to help lift the Wildcats to a 2-0 win. Demico Hannoun netted the other Northern Michigan goal, the first of his collegiate career.
With their sweep of Alaska-Fairbanks, the Wildcats ran their winning streak to six games and their unbeaten streak to nine. Northern Michigan, which is 7-1-2 in 2017, last strung together a six-game winning streak from Feb. 17 to March 11, 2006 and last went unbeaten in nine games (6-0-3) from Dec. 27, 1998 to Jan. 30, 1999.
The Minnesota State/Northern Michigan Series
This will be the Wildcats and Mavericks' first meeting in 2016-17. They split the 2015-16 season series, 1-1-2. During the series at the Berry Events Center on Nov. 20-21, they skated to 1-1 and 2-2 draws. Tolvanen ultimately captured his third career WCHA Rookie of the Week award after stopping 63 of 66 shots.
The series concluded in Mankato, Minn. on Jan. 8-9. In the series opener, Northern Michigan snapped then No. 18 Minnesota State's nine-game unbeaten streak with a 3-1 victory behind Tolvanen's 41 saves and three-point outings by Darren Nowick (2g-1a) and Dominik Shine (1g-2a). It was the Wildcats' first victory over the Mavericks at the Verizon Wireless Center. The next night, Minnesota State rebounded with a 3-1 victory despite Mathias Israelsson's career-best 40 stops.
The Mavericks boast the WCHA's leading point producer in Marc Michaelis, who has recorded 33 (12g-21a) in 30 games. Three others skaters, C.J. Franklin (6th, 11g-15a), Brad McClure (t-7th, 13g-12a) and Daniel Brickley (9th, 7g-17a), rank in the WCHA's top 10 in point production. That quartet will try to solve Tolvanen, who is the national leader in three major goaltending categories since the new year began.
Shine (4g-5a), Brock Maschmeyer (2g-4a) and Shane Sooth (2g-3a) are the leading point producers against Minnesota State on the 2016-17 roster.
Tolvanen, Payne Receive Weekly Awards
For leading Northern Michigan to its third-straight sweep of a WCHA opponent on Feb. 10-11, Payne was named the Offensive Player of the Week while Tolvanen garnered Defensive Player of the Week honors for the third time in four weeks.
Tolvanen was also recognized as the NCAA First Star of the Week for the second-straight week due to his history-making performance.
Payne tied Harvard's Ryan Donato for the national lead in goals during games played from Feb. 6 to 12. He was the only Division I skater to have two multi-goal games during that stretch. It was also the first time in his collegiate career he had multi-goal outings in back-to-back games.
The Next Time Out
Northern Michigan wraps up the regular season by taking on rival Michigan Tech in a home-and-home series. The series begins at the Berry Events Center on Feb. 24 and concludes in Houghton, Mich. on Feb. 25. Both games will be televised on Fox UP/TV6.
Tolvanen made at least 34 saves in all five of his shutouts. He reached the 40-save plateau twice and also finished one stop shy of that number on Feb. 10 against Alaska-Fairbanks.
Tolvanen has been the nation's top goaltender in 2017. He leads the country in goals against average (0.99), save percentage (.969) and shutouts (5) and stands tied for sixth in wins (7) and ninth in saves (309). He has allowed just 10 goals, with seven of those coming in Northern Michigan's series against Lake Superior State on Jan. 6-7. Entering the new year, Tolvanen had allowed an NCAA-worst 58 goals and ranked in the bottom 15 nationally in GAA (3.19) and save percentage (.897).
During the Wildcats' six-game winning streak, Payne has recorded nine points (7g-2a). Over that span, he had three multi-point outings and was only held off the scoresheet once. Shine (4g-2a) and Darien Craighead (6a) have also been point-per-game players while Maschmeyer, Gerard Hanson and Philip Beaulieu each chipped in a goal and four helpers.
Since the calendar turned to 2017, a quartet of Wildcats have been among the WCHA's top 15 in points: Payne (t-1st, 7g-4a), Shine (t-5th, 8g-2a), Maschmeyer (t-13th, 2g-6a) and Craighead (t-13th, 8a). Shine is the WCHA leader in goals while Craighead is tied for first with Lake Superior State's J.T. Henke in assists. Maschmeyer is tied with Michigan Tech's Mitch Reinke and Minnesota State's Daniel Brickley for the lead among WCHA defensemen.
Northern Michigan's penalty killing has markedly improved in 2017. Entering the new year, the Wildcats were ranked 50th in the country with a .778 penalty kill percentage. Since January, they are second with a penalty kill percentage of .913. They and St. Lawrence (.947) are the only two teams with a penalty kill percentage north of .900. During Tolvanen's shutout streak, they have killed off 26 penalties.
Northern Michigan last had an unbeaten streak reach the double digits from Dec. 28, 1990 to Oct. 25, 1991. Over that stretch, the Wildcats went unbeaten in 29-straight games (26-0-3) and won the 1991 NCAA National Championship.