MARQUETTE, Mich. – The No. 19 Northern Michigan hockey team begins the final month of the regular season with a Central Collegiate Hockey Association home series against Ferris State on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 3-4). The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. on both nights from the Berry Events Center.
NMU is 12-9-5 overall and 7-8-5-2 in the CCHA. The Wildcats are in ninth-place in the conference with 28 points and are ranked No. 19 in the latest United States College Hockey Online top 20 poll. NMU has lost only one game at the Berry Events Center this season in 13 games and are outscoring opponents 43-29 at home
Ferris State is 17-8-3 overall and 11-6-3-1 for 37 conference points and first-place. Three other teams are one point behind the Bulldogs in second. Ferris is ranked No. 6 in the USCHO poll and No. 7 in the USA Today/College Hockey Magazine poll. Jordie Johnston (15-9-24) and Matthew Kirzinger (6-15-21) lead the team in scoring while Taylor Nelson (2.22 goals against average, 92.1 save percentage) is 13-4-1 between the pipes.
Northern leads the all-time series 49-20-3, dating back to 1976. The Wildcats are 28-11-0 against the Bulldogs in Marquette. The ‘Cats won the first 16 meetings in the all-time series and have won the last four, including a sweep last season at the Berry Events Center. The last loss to FSU was on Nov. 29, 2008.
Senior forward Tyler Gron leads the team in scoring with 12 goals and 15 assists. He is second in the CCHA in scoring. Senior forward Justin Florek is not far behind with 14 goals and eight assists. Eight of his goals have been on the power-play. Junior forward Matt Thurber also has 20 points on eight goals and 12 assists.
Florek has five goals and two assists in seven career games against Ferris. Senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan has two goals while Gron and sophomore defenseman Wade Epp each have one.
Walt Kyle is in his 10th season on the bench for the Wildcats. His all-time record is 188-162-43. He has led NMU to six 20-win seasons and the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. The ‘Cats have been to the CCHA Tournament at Joe Louis Arena seven times under Kyle.
42,166 fans have turned out for the 13 games at the Berry Events Center for an average of 3,244. NMU has sold out two Saturday nights when 4,260 ‘Cat fans attended the Michigan tie on Oct. 22 and the Notre Dame tie on Nov. 5.
NMU is 6-6-4-2 against opponents ranked in the top 20. The six wins were against Wisconsin (Oct. 7), Michigan (Oct. 21), Miami (Dec. 2-3), Lake Superior State (Dec. 9) and Miami (Jan. 27). Florek (9-6) and Gron (6-9) each have 15 points in games against top 20. Sophomore forward Stephan Vigier has seven goals against ranked teams.
The Blueline Club will host a fourth period reception after Saturday night's game at River Valley Bank.
100.3 FM “The Point”, the official radio station of the NMU Wildcats, broadcasts all hockey games. An online stream is available at: http://wnmufm.org/sportsstream
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