Wildcat Hockey Opens WCHA Tournament at Bemidji State Friday

Wildcat Hockey Opens WCHA Tournament at Bemidji State Friday

MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Northern Michigan hockey team opens WCHA tournament play against Bemidji State on Friday at 8:07 p.m. (7:07 CT).

For fans who want to follow the Wildcats in Minnesota, the games will be streamed live on WCHA.tv and broadcast on 100.3 The Point.

The full media notes can be viewed here.

Wildcats at a Glance

The Wildcats used a second-half surge to secure the eighth seed in the WCHA tournament. At Christmas, they were last in the league with seven points (2-11-1), nine back of the final playoff spot. In 2017, they posted an 8-4-2 record, tied with Minnesota State for the best in the WCHA, to compile 27 points and move into playoff position.

Northern Michigan went unbeaten in nine games from Jan. 7 to Feb. 11, going 7-0-2 and also stringing together a six-game winning streak. During that streak, Atte Tolvanen blanked five-straight opponents from Jan. 21 to Feb. 11, breaking the WCHA men's record and tying the NCAA men's record.

Through the regular season, six Wildcats have recorded at least 20 points: Robbie Payne (13g-15a), Dominik Shine (18g-7a), Darien Craighead (7g-18a), Gerard Hanson (6g-16a), Zach Diamantoni (6g-14a) and Brock Maschmeyer (4g-16a). Northern Michigan last had this many skaters meet this threshold in 2011-12 (7).

Before Christmas, only three Wildcats had reached the double digits in points; since then, Shine (t-1st, 12g-4a), Craighead (t-1st 3g-13a), Payne (t-5th, 8g-6a), Maschmeyer (t-7th, 2g-11a) and Hanson (t-10th, 3g-9a) rank in the WCHA's top 10 in point production. Their efforts in part improved Northern Michigan's goals per game average to 3.14 (2nd WCHA) from 2.00 (9th WCHA).

The Wildcats' special teams have also experienced a resurgence during the new year. They rank second in the WCHA in power-play percentage (.203) and fifth in penalty-kill percentage (.864) since January.

The Bemidji State/Northern Michigan Series

Bemidji State took all four games from Northern Michigan during the regular season. On Oct. 14-15, the Beavers won both games at the Berry Events Center by a 2-0 margin behind Michael Bitzer's 42 saves. During the series at the Sanford Center on Nov. 18-19, they skated to 2-1 and 5-2 victories to move to 11-0-1 in the WCHA on the season.

The Wildcats last topped Bemidji State on Oct. 31, 2015 in Marquette. During that 3-1 victory, Cohen Adair's first goal of the year proved to be the difference as Tolvanen made 34 saves, including 14 in the third period, to stymie the Beaver offense. They last pulled off a win at the Sanford Center on Jan. 4, 2014. In that 3-1 win, they netted a goal during each period to seal their first road sweep of the 2013-14 campaign.

Northern Michigan's top point producers against Bemidji State on this year's roster are Shane Sooth (1g-4a), Shine (4a) and Sami Salminen (1g-2a). Tolvanen owns a 1.96 goals against average and a .944 save percentage against the Beavers.

Wildcats in the Postseason

Since re-joining the WCHA in 2013-14, the Wildcats have made the eight-team tournament every season. They were seeded seventh in 2014, sixth in 2015 and fifth in 2016. In four of their six tournament games, they fell by a one-goal margin, with two of their losses coming in overtime.

Sooth (3g-2a), Maschmeyer (2g-2a) and Shine (1g-3a) are Northern Michigan's leading point producers in postseason play.

Ice Chips

Craighead is the first Wildcat since 2007-08 to record at least 20 points during his freshman season. That campaign, Mark Olver (21g-17a in 39 games), Erik Gustafsson (27a in 44 games) and Jared Brown (9g-16a in 43 games) each had more than 20.

Craighead will carry a six-game point streak (2g-6a) into the WCHA tournament. The freshman owns the second-longest point streak by a current Wildcat, trailing Shine (nine games from Jan. 30 to Feb. 27, 2016).

Maschmeyer is the first Wildcat defenseman to reach the 20-point plateau since Kyle Follmer posted 26 (4g-22a) in 36 games during the 2011-12 season. Philip Beaulieu (3g-16a) needs one point to reach this threshold; if he gets it, he will become the first Wildcat rookie blueliner since Gustafsson to do so.

At Michigan Tech on Feb. 25, Troy Loggins became the third Wildcat to reach the double digits in goals, joining Shine (18) and Payne (13). He has notched a team-best three goals in the past four games, with all three coming on the man advantage.

Shine leads the WCHA in overall goals (18) and is tied for third in conference goals (13). Payne is tied for seventh in overall points (28) and just outside of the top 10 in conference points (t-12th, 20). Craighead trails only Marc Michaelis, the WCHA's overall leader in points, for the overall (25) and conference rookie leads (20). Among WCHA rookies, Beaulieu is tied for sixth in overall points (19) and tied for third in conference points (19). 

Maschmeyer Finalist for Senior CLASS Award®

Maschmeyer was selected as one of 10 finalists for the 2016-17 Senior CLASS Award® in collegiate hockey. NCAA Division I seniors who have notable achievements in four areas—community, classroom, character and competition—are eligible for this award

Wildcat fans can vote for Maschmeyer daily by visiting the Senior CLASS Award® website. Fan voting runs until March 28 and is one third of the criteria that determines the winner. His full profile can be found here.

The Next Time Out

The Wildcats and Beavers continue their series Saturday at 8:07 p.m. (7:07 CT).