Wildcats Set to End Road Trip with UNO

Wildcats Set to End Road Trip with UNO

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (7-5, 5-3 WCHA) will finish their current four-game road trip this weekend with the University of Nebraska Omaha (4-5-1, 1-3 NCHC). Both Friday and Saturday's non-conference matchups are scheduled for 8:07 p.m. EST.

Coverage of the contest can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats.

Weekly Notes:

For Complete game notes, click HERE.

Weekend Recap. The Wildcats split their fourth consecutive series over the weekend to begin a four-game road trip. On Friday, Robbie Payne scored a hat trick to lead NMU to a 5-3 victory of Alaska Fairbanks. Darien Craighead also scored a goal to go along with a pair of assists for three points. NMU fell, 4-1, on Saturday after allowing a pair of late empty-net goals. Denver Pierce cut the deficit to one, before the two late Nanook scores. 

Among the Nation's Best. For the fourth time in 2017, Payne scored multiple goals in Friday's victory over the Nanooks. The senior captain is currently second in the country with 12 goals, one behind the national lead. The goal total also leads the WCHA by four scores. Additionally, his 15 points are tied for third-best in the conference. Payne's efforts earned him his second WCHA Offensive Player of the Week award of 2017 and fourth of his career.

Series Splits. Along with four-consecutive series splits, NMU has split five of the season's six series. NMU earned a sweep over Ferris State University in the team's second series of the year, which was also the opening WCHA series of the season.

Between the Pipes. Atte Tolvanen has started three-consecutive games for NMU in the goal crease. The junior holds a 6-4 record in 2017 with a .916 save percentage and 2.43 goals against average. Mathias Israelsson earned WCHA Goaltender of the Week honors early in the year after a shutout of a ranked Minnesota State squad on November 4. Israelsson has a 1-1 record this year with a .923 save percentage and 2.46 GAA.

Shutdown Special Teams. Over the past three series, the Wildcats have gone 27-29 in the penalty kill. During the span, NMU held their opponent's scoreless in 20-cosecutive power-play opportunities. By shoring up the penalty kill, the squad now ranks fourth in the WCHA in penalty kill percentage.

Receiving Votes. In the latest rankings, the Wildcats fell out of the rankings after their split with Fairbanks. NMU is receiving votes in the USCHO.com Poll with 54 votes. They received the second most votes of teams not in the top-25. The Wildcats were ranked in either poll for the first time since December of 2014.

Early Season Success. Despite being tabbed to finish seventh in both preseason WCHA polls, the Wildcats currently sit in third after eight conference contests. NMU owns 15 points in conference action with a 5-3 mark. The Wildcats trail Minnesota St. and Bowling Green who lead the WCHA with 21 and 20 points, respectively.

Potulny in his First Season. Grant Potulny is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. Potulny owns a 7-5 mark overall and 5-3 record in WCHA play at NMU. As an eight-year assistant coach at his alma mater, Minnesota, Potulny helped the Gophers to a 182-105-26 (.623) record and two Frozen Four appearances.

NMU versus Neb.-Omaha. The Wildcats own a narrow lead in the all-time series with Mavericks, 18-17-3. A season ago, the two teams met in Marquette, Michigan with NMU earning a three-on-three overtime victory in the opener and UNO getting a 2-0 win in the second contest. The home team in the series in 12-6-3 all-time.