MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey (11-10-2, 9-5-2-2 WCHA) returns to Western Collegiate Hockey Association action and the Berry Events Center when they host No. 14 Bowling Green State University (12-6-6, 9-2-5-2 WCHA). The matchup will pit the second and third ranked teams in the conference against each other, as BGSU holds a three-point lead over the Wildcats. The series is set for Friday and Saturday with a 7 p.m. puck-drop.
Coverage of the contest can be found at nmuwildcats.com, while there will also be in-game updates on Twitter at @NMU_Wildcats.
For complete game notes, click HERE.
Third-Place in Vegas. The Wildcats traveled to Las Vegas, Nevada to participate in the inaugural Ice Vegas Invitational over the weekend, returning to the Upper Peninsula with a third-place finish. NMU ran into an offensive explosion Friday against Arizona State University, falling 7-3. Junior defenseman James Vermeulen (Stony Plain, Alberta) did record a career-high with two points and his first goal of the season. A shootout victory Saturday evening over No. 13/14 Boston College sealed the third-finish for NMU. Sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) recorded an assist on all three Wildcats goals during regulation, while junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) shut down the Eagles in the shootout.
The Month of Klimek. Senior defenseman Jordan Klimek (Langley, British Columbia) was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the month for December. Klimek was the top point scoring defenseman in the league during the month with his eight points and recorded the most assists with six. His two goals tied for the most among league defenseman. Klimek earned conference Player of the Week awards twice during the month while helping NMU to a 4-2-2 record.
Among the Nation's Best. Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) leads the WCHA and is second in the NCAA with 17 goals on the season. His 23 points are good enough for fourth in the league. Payne is second in the WCHA with 82 shots behind teammate junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) who has 93 shot attempts. Loggins' shot total is the third highest in the country.
Between the Pipes. Starting the past six games in return from injury, Atte Tolvanen owns a 9-5-1 record this season with a serve percentage of .906 and a goals against average of 2.67. Sophomore goaltender Mathias Israelsson (Ytterby Sweden) has also seen action this year, making 11 appearances en route to a 2-5-2 mark.
Shorthanded, No Problem. NMU is tied for the national lead with five shorthanded goals this season. Tied with Niagara University and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell for the top spot, the Wildcats also scored a shorthanded goal in an exhibition overtime period against BSU with an extra WCHA point on the line. Troy Loggins is one of 18 players in the country with multiple shorthanded goals.
WCHA Standings Surprise. After being predicted to finish seventh in both the preseason Mankato Free Press Coaches' Poll and UAHHockey.com Preseason Polls, NMU enters the new weekend ranked third in the standings. The Wildcats are currently three points behind this weekend's opponent, BGSU, and 11 points behind preseason favorite Minnesota State University-Mankato.
Head Man Returns. NMU Head Coach Grant Potulny makes his return to the Wildcat bench after missing the last two weekends to serve as an assistant coach for Team USA at the World Junior Championships. The squad captured bronze after a 9-3 victory over the Czech Republic. It was the third time Potulny has served on the World Junior's staff, capturing gold in 2013 and 2017.
Potulny in his First Season. Grant Potulny is in his first season at the helm of the Wildcats. Potulny owns an 11-10-3 mark overall and 9-5-2-2 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 Bowling Green. The series will mark the 101st and 102nd games all-time between the two programs since their first meeting in 1976. BGSU owns the advantage over the span with a 48-43-9 record. A season ago, the Wildcats swept the season series in Bowling Green with a pair of shutout victories, 3-0 and 2-0.