Wildcats Return to National Spotlight in 2017-18

Wildcats Return to National Spotlight in 2017-18

MARQUETTE, Mich.—Northern Michigan University Men's Ice Hockey saw their 2017-18 season come to an end in late March after one of the best regular season and postseason campaign in recent history.

NMU completed the season with a 25-15-3 overall record, amassing 25 wins for the first time since the 2001-02 season. Additionally, NMU entered the national rankings for the first time since the 2014-15 season on November 6 appearing at number-20 in the USCHO.com poll. The squad would eventually climb to as high as 16 on multiple occasions before ending the year at number-20 in the final addition of the poll. 

Despite being picked to finish seventh in both preseason polls, the Wildcats finished the year with a 19-7-2-2 mark in Western Collegiate Hockey Association action to earn the second seed in the WCHA Playoffs. After a pair of postseason series wins that went three games, NMU advanced to the conference championship game for the first time since 2010 against Upper Peninsula rival Michigan Technological University in a sold-out Berry Events Center.

The success on the ice earned the Wildcats plenty of attention at the conference and national level throughout the season. Six student-athletes were named All-WCHA which are the most honorees in a single season in program history. Junior forward Troy Loggins (Huntington Beach, California) and junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) were both named to the first-team, while junior forward Adam Rockwood (Coquitlam, British Columbia) and sophomore defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minnesota) were honored on the second-team. Senior forward Robbie Payne (Gaylord, Michigan) and sophomore forward Darien Craighead (Surrey, British Columbia) were awarded third-team honors.

A pair of Wildcats earned major postseason honors from the WCHA with Tolvanen being named league goaltender of the year and first year head coach Grant Potulny earning the WCHA Coach of the Year award. Potulny was also a candidate for the Spencer Penrose Award given annually to the top coach in NCAA Division I college hockey.

Beaulieu also earned major honors after the conclusion of the Wildcats' season. The weekend of the Frozen Four, the sophomore defenseman was named Second-Team All-American by the American Hockey Coaches Association. Beaulieu is the first All-American for NMU since 2010 and the 17th in program history.

Statistically, Rockwood and Loggins led the Wildcats in points with 48 and 47, respectively. Rockwood's point total was tied for eighth in the nation, while his 40 assists in 2017-18 lead the NCAA. Payne was the top-NMU goal scorer with 24, but Loggins was not far behind with 23 goals this season.

Looking to the 2018-19 season, NMU will return five all-conference honorees, league goaltender of the year, and an All-American. The Wildcats will also return their top four point scorers from this season and nearly 75-perent of their goal scoring production.