February 22, 2012

Wildcats Host Lakers For Final Series of Regular Season

NMU's five seniors.
NMU's five seniors.

MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan hockey team wraps up the regular season on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 24-25), hosting Lake Superior State at the Berry Events Center. The puck drops at 7:35 p.m. both nights. The annual silent auction will be held on Friday night and NMU’s five senior will be honored before Saturday’s game.

NMU is 14-12-6 overall and 9-11-6-3 for 36 points in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Wildcats are currently tied for eighth-place in the conference with Notre Dame.

Lake Superior State is 16-13-5 overall and 11-11-4-4 for 41 points in the CCHA. The Lakers enter the final weekend in sixth-place. LSSU has split its last two series against Western Michigan and Alaska. Domenic Monardo (10-17) leads the team with 27 points. Nick McParland (14-8) and Colin Campbell (6-16) each have 22 points. Kevin Kapalka (2.44 goals against average, 92.2 save percentage) is 15-10-5 between the pipes.

The two teams met on Dec. 9-10 in Sault Ste. Marie. NMU defeated LSSU 2-1 in the first meeting. Junior defenseman Scott Macaulay scored in the first period and sophomore forward Stephan Vigier scored the game-winner with five minutes left in the third. Sophomore goaltender Jared Coreau had 37 saves. Saturday, LSSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead. NMU responded with three goals. Junior forward Matt Thurber, sophomore defenseman Wade Epp and junior defenseman Kyle Follmer buried goals in the third period. The Lakers quickly responded with three more goals to earn the 6-3 victory.

NMU holds a 58-33-10 all-time series lead over the Lakers, dating back to 1976. The ‘Cats are 35-11-4 in Marquette. The two teams have each won six games in the last 12 meetings.

Northern’s five seniors are Andrew Cherniwchan, Reid Ellingson, Justin Florek, Tyler Gron and Devan Hartigan.

Forward Andrew Cherniwchan (Hinton, Alta.) has scored 33 goals with 46 assists in 141 career games. He is ranked 18th in NMU history in career penalty minutes, 51st in career penalties, 51st in career game-winners and 55th in career goals

Goaltender Reid Ellingson (Cloquet, Minn.) has appeared in 70 career games with 55 starts. He has a record of 20-26-8 and is tied for fourth in NMU hockey history with a 91.1 save percentage and is fifth with a 2.65 save percentage.

Forward Justin Florek (Marquette, Mich.) was a fifth round draft pick of the Boston Bruins during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was the 135th overall pick. Florek has scored 51 goals and 60 assists in 152 career games. He has a career-high 16 goals this season. Florek is ranked 32nd in NMU history in career goals, 38th in scoring, 19th in power-play goals and 21st in game-winning goals.

Forward Tyler Gron (Spruce Grove, Alta.) has scored 45 goals with 48 assists in 137 career games. He has nine multiple-point games this season and two four-point games. Gron currently leads the team in points with 14 goals and 19 assists. He is second in the CCHA with his 33 total points. Gron is ranked 53rd in NMU history in career scoring, 35th in career goals, 69th in career assists, 82nd in career games played and 33rd in power-play goals.

Goaltender Devan Hartigan (Boise, Idaho) appeared in six games, starting five, during the 2008-09 season. He has a career 2.48 goals against average and a 90.3 save percentage. Hartigan was named CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Dec. 8, 2008 after a 56 save weekend against LSSU. He had 34 saves in an exhibition win over the Russian Red Stars on Dec. 30, 2011.

Northern can finish as high as sixth in the conference and as low as ninth. Seeds six, seven and eight will host first round CCHA Tournament games next weekend.

The list of items that will be auctioned off during the silent auction on Friday can be found at:
http://webb.nmu.edu/SportsAthletics/Sports/MensHockey/TSCSilentAuction.shtml

The Blueline Club will honor the five seniors at the annual Senior Luncheon at UpFront and Company on Friday, beginning at noon. A club member social will be held in the Wildcat Room at 6:30 p.m. on Friday and there will be a fourth period party at the Casa Calabria after Saturday’s game.

100.3 FM “The Point”, the official radio station of the NMU Wildcats, broadcast all NMU hockey games. An online stream is available at: http://wnmufm.org/sportsstream

GAME NOTES

QUOTES:

Head Coach Walt Kyle

Team spirits…
“I feel pretty good about the team right now. We know we played well at Michigan even though we weren’t able to get a win or any points but the energy and effort were there and we had a good quality of play. We have a tough opponent here with critical points at stake and that’s been the approach all week.”

Seniors…
“We have five really quality people that are seniors here. All these guys have been great ambassadors for the University not only as hockey players but because they’re great people. It’s been a real pleasure coaching these guys and they’ve had a real impact on the program. I’m real happy to see them graduate and move on.”

LSSU series…
“It’ll be two really evenly matched teams. We had real tough games down there and we expect two tough games here. Points are critical for us to catch them and pass them in the standings. They could be a first round playoff match up as well. There are a lot of things that are significant this weekend and we hope to see a lot of people at the games because we need the support.”

U.P. rivalry…
“I think it’s great to have three good college hockey programs here in the Upper Peninsula. Moving forward with the new league, it’s going to strengthen the rivalries. Lake Superior State and Northern have had a good rivalry and it’ll continue to be that way.”

Senior Goaltender Reid Ellingson

Thoughts about last weekend…
“We played pretty quality hockey at Michigan. We did have some costly mistakes that we can’t afford to make this weekend but our effort level was definitely there.”

About four years at NMU…
“My four years here have been awesome. It’s a great community and we get a lot of support. The team comradery has been great and that’s something I’ll never forget. Making the NCAA Tournament my sophomore year stands out and big games throughout our careers and hopefully making some noise at the end of the year this year are things that I’ll remember but off ice stuff like making friends has been a great experience.”

Thoughts on LSSU…
“LSSU is a good team and they’re tied with us in the Pairwise. It’s a huge weekend for NCAA and league standing, vying for first round home ice. It’s going to be an intense weekend. Hopefully we have a good crowd with it being the last regular season weekend.”

Senior forward Andrew Cherniwchan

About his four years at NMU…
“It feels like it was just yesterday when I was walking around campus for the first time trying to find my way to class. Those four years go by pretty quick.”

NMU Memories…
“I’m proud to be a Wildcat. I’ve had quite few memories over the years. Going to the NCAA Tournament was great but our memories aren’t over yet and I’d like to have a good one from this year.”

Thoughts on LSSU…
“We both want to get into the playoffs on a good note. We met them once this year when we were missing a few guys. Being senior weekend, it’s going to be emotional and we’d like to have a good weekend.”

# # # NMU # # #



Prepared By
Calvin Larson
Sports Information
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