MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey begins their 2017-18 campaign this weekend when they head to Lake Superior State University Friday evening at 7:07 p.m. The Wildcats then return to Marquette, Michigan, on Saturday for their home-opener with the Lakers at 7 p.m.
Saturday's home-opener will begin with a special ceremony to dedicate the ice rink inside of the Berry Events Center to former NMU head coach Rick Comley. More information on the ceremony can be found below.
Live stats and live video can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats.
Wildcats in 2016-17. A season ago, NMU finished 13-22-4 overall, but the Wildcats ended the regular season going 8-4-2 after the new year. The record was the best in the WCHA during the second half of the season.
2017 Preseason Rankings. The Wildcats were chosen to finish seventh in both the Mankato Free Press Coaches' Poll and the UAHHockey.com Preseason Media Poll. Minnesota State University Mankato, Bemidji State University, and Michigan Technological University were picked to finish first, second, and third in both polls.
Comley Rink Dedication (Oct. 7). The first head coach in Wildcat Hockey history, Comley assembled a 538-429-68 record at NMU, with regular-season titles in the CCHA in 1979-80 and 1980-81, and a WCHA title in 1990-91. Under his guidance, the Wildcats won the 1989, 1991 and 1992 WCHA Tournaments and the 1980 and 1981 CCHA Tournaments. He led Northern Michigan to a national title in 1991. He is one of only two coaches to win a NCAA Tournament title with two different universities after accomplishing the same feat at Michigan State in 2007.
2017-18 Captains. A trio of wildcats were named captains after a vote by their teammates. Senior forwards Robbie Payne and Zach Diamantoni will be co-captains for this years' campaign. Senior defenseman Jordan Klimek was selected as the alternate captain.
Payne Returns as Offensive Leader. Senior forward Robbie Payne is the top returning goal and point scorer from the 2016-17 squad, recording 13 goals and 29 points a season ago. Payne was second on the team behind Dominik Shine, who is now playing with the Detroit Red Wings system.
Darien Distribution Co. Sophomore forward Darien Craighead is the top returning assist man from last year's team. Craighead was second on the 2016-17 team with 18 assists, totaling 25 points. Not far behind Craighead, sophomore defender Philip Beaulieu 16 assists and 19 points in his first season at NMU.
Familiar Face in Goal. Junior goalie Atte Tolvanen will return to lead the Wildcat defense after making 38 appearances, 35 starts a season ago. Tolvanen finished the year with a 12-22-4 record, making 1,048 saves in the process. As a sophomore, Tolvanen set an NCAA record for consecutive shutout victories with five spanning from January 21 through February 11 of 2017.
Entering the Reign of Potulny. Grant Potulny enters his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. After a four-year playing career at Minnesota, Potulny played a number of seasons professionally before retiring in 2008. As an eight-year assisant coach at his alma mater, Minnesota, Potulny helped the Gophers to a 182-105-26 (.623) record and two Frozen Four appearances.
NMU versus Lake Superior State. The 2017 opening series between NMU and LSSU will mark the 128th and 129th occasions that the two teams have met. The Wildcats hold the all-time series advantage with a 67-41-13 record versus the Lakers.