MARQUETTE, Mich. – The No. 20-ranked Northern Michigan hockey team hits the road this weekend for its final regular season road series. The Wildcats travel to Ann Arbor to take on the No. 5-ranked University of Michigan on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 17-18) in a Central Collegiate Hockey Association series. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and 5:06 p.m. on Saturday from Yost Ice Arena.
NMU is 14-10-6 overall and 9-9-6-3 in the CCHA for 36 points. The Wildcats are currently tied for seventh-place in the conference with Miami and Notre Dame. The ‘Cats are ranked 20th in the USCHO top 20 poll, falling a spot from last week.
The Wolverines are 18-10-4 overall and 12-8-4-1 in the CCHA, good for 41 points and third-place in the conference. Michigan is coming off of a split with Michigan State last weekend. Alex Guptill (14-13) and Chris Brown (11-16) lead the team with 27 points. Shawn Hunwick (2.08 GAA, 93.1 save percentage) is 18-9-3 between the pipes. The Wolverines are unbeaten in 13 of its last 15 games.
The Maize and Blue lead the all-time series 35-19-6 and NMU is 3-6-1 in its last 10 games against Michigan. The two teams met earlier this season from the Berry Events Center. NMU defeated Michigan 5-2 on Friday (Oct. 21), when ranked No. 1 in the nation. The ‘Cats scored two goals in the second and three in the third to defeat the Wolverines. On Saturday (Oct. 2) the teams tied with Michigan earning the extra conference point with a shootout win.
Senior forwards Tyler Gron (14-19-33) and Justin Florek (15-13-28) lead the team in scoring followed by junior forward Matt Thurber (8-15-23). Junior defenseman Kyle Follmer is tied with Gron for the team lead with 19 assists.
Sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau is 10-5-2 this season with a 2.03 goals against average and a 93.5 save percentage. He has started the last three games and has made an appearance in 12 of the last 14 games. Senior Reid Ellingson (2.92 gaa, 90.5 save percentage) is 4-5-4.
Coach Walt Kyle’s Wildcats are 6-8-1 on the road this season and 4-7-1 on the road in CCHA play. Wins came at Wisconsin, Lake Superior, Michigan Tech, Miami and Bowling Green. The only series sweep was last weekend at Bowling Green. NMU is being outscored 45-35 on the road.
Both of this weekend’s games will be televised live. The Big Network will carry Friday’s game while Fox Sports Detroit broadcasting will have Saturday night’s contest.
The Big Network can be found on Marquette Charter channel 62 and 767 in HD, DIRECTV channel 610 and DISH Network channel 439. The full list is available at:
Fox Sports Detroit is available on Marquette Charter channel 33 and 791 in HD, DIRECTV channel 663 and DISH Network channel 430. The full list is available at:
Saturday is Hockey Day in Michigan. This weekend is USA Hockey’s Hockey Weekend Across America and Michigan has over 63,000 USA Hockey registered players, coaches, and officials — the second most of any state in the country.
Wildcat Night Across the Country is also on Saturday. Wildcat fans in Marquette are getting together at Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the game. Parties are lined up across the country. The full list can be found at:
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
Quotes from coach Walt Kyle and senior forward Justin Florek
“They’re a very good hockey team and you’re always challenged when you go down there. There are always 6,000 people at the game but it’s the guys on the ice that will beat you.”
“Hunwick is a very good goaltender and when you play Michigan you have to beat him. We’ve had exceptional play out of Jared as of late and that is becoming a strength of our team and we have confidence in both him and Reid.”
“It’s that time of year. You’re happy to be in that position and points will move us up so we want to be playing good teams and getting ready for the playoffs. Michigan is a good team and our quality of play is key to get a few points.”
“We don’t really feel the pressure. You want to finish as high as we can and hopefully get a bye in the playoffs or home ice but the reality is that you have to focus on the quality of play. If we play well then everything will take care of itself.”
“Michigan’s one of the hardest places to play in college hockey. Their fans are pretty crazy and last time we played them there was a good scuffle so it’ll be a battle down in Ann Arbor.”
“We need to get pucks on net. Hunwick is a great goaltender and we just need to get chances. It worked the Friday night game here and he got flustered so we need to do the same thing.”
“We’ve got a couple wins going and we need to keep the momentum going down the stretch toward playoff time. The next couple of games are huge for us so this weekend is big against a top five team.”
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