MARQUETTE , Mich. ?? The Northern Michigan University hockey team kicks off the 2013-14 season with a pair of exhibition games on Oct. 5-6. The Wildcats host the US National Development Under 18 team at 7:07 on Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Berry Events Center and Laurentian on Sunday (Oct. 6) at 2:07 p.m.
NMU returns to the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in the 38th season of Wildcat hockey. Members of the reconfigured WCHA are Alabama Huntsville, Alaska Anchorage, Alaska, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and NMU. Northern was a member of the conference from 1984-97, during which time it won the NCAA title in 1991.
Last season, Northern finished with a 15-19-4 overall record and a 9-15-4-1 mark in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The 32 conference points placed the 'Cats in 10th place overall in the standings. Nineteen letter winners return for the 'Cats with 12 forwards, six defenseman and one goaltender returning.
Head coach Walt Kyle enters his 12th season on the bench for the Wildcats. His all-time record is 208-186-49. He has led NMU to six 20-win seasons and to the NCAA Tournament in 2009-10. The 'Cats went to the CCHA Tournament at Joe Louis Arena seven times under Kyle.
NMU was selected sixth in both the Mankato Free Press Coaches Poll and the Bemidji Pioneer Media Poll. The 'Cats trailed MSU, FSU, MTU, BGSU and UAF in both polls.
Junior Reed Seckel returns as the top point-getter from a season ago. He led the team with 13 goals and added 12 assists in 25 games. Seniors Erik Higby (9-12=21) and Stephan Vigier (7-14=21) also had over 20 points on the season. Senior Jake Johnson, junior Ryan Daugherty and sophomores Cohen Adair, Darren Nowick and Ryan Aynsley will also be counted on heavily to lead the offensive charge.
Other forwards returning include juniors Ryan Kesti, Nate Taurence, DJ Vandercook and sophomores Aaron Leach, Robert Lindores and Justin Rose. There are four freshman forwards as Casey Purper, Sami Salminen, Dominik Shine and Shane Sooth play their first season for NMU.
Senior captain CJ Ludwig will lead the backend on defense. Seniors Wade Epp and Austin Handley along with juniors Mitch Jones and Jake Baker bring a load of experience on the blueline. Junior Luke Eibler plays his first season in the Green and Gold after sitting out last season. Sophomore Ryan Trenz adds to the depth after appearing in 26 games last season.
Freshmen on defense are Barrett Kaib and Brock Maschmeyer.
Sophomore goaltender Michael Doan appeared in five games with a 2.91 goals against average and 92.6 save percentage last season. Redshirt freshman Mathias Dahlstrom and freshman Derek Dun will also battle for time between the pipes. Sophomore Aaron Beutenmiller adds leadership to the position.
The 38-game schedule includes 18 games at the Berry Events Center with the two exhibition games and 14 WCHA games. The regular season begins on Oct. 11-12 in a non-conference series vs. Wisconsin for the third year in a row. Other October games are against Nebraska Omaha (Oct. 18-19) and a home and away series with MTU (Oct. 25-26).
The first of two trips to Alaska kicks off November with a series against the Alaska Nanooks (Nov. 1-2). NMU travels to Western Michigan on the next weekend (Nov. 9-10) in a meeting of former CCHA teams. A pair of home series wraps up the month with UAH (Nov. 22-23) and FSU (Nov. 29-30) coming to Marquette.
December has only four games, starting with a pair of games at Minnesota State (Dec. 6-7). The final non-conference games of the season are at North Dakota (Dec. 13-14) to wrap up 2013.
The New Year begins with a series at BSU (Jan. 3-4). UAF visits the Berry Events Center on Jan. 17-18 before the second trip to Alaska on Jan. 24-25 for a pair of games at UAA.
Seven of the next 10 games are at home, beginning with Minnesota State (Jan.31-Feb. 1). A trip to FSU (Feb. 7-8) followed by a home series with LSSU (Feb. 14-15), a home and away series with MTU (Feb. 21-22) and a home series with BGSU (Feb. 28-March 1) wrap up February. The final regular season series of the season is at UAH.
100.3 FM The Point, the official radio station of the NMU Wildcats, broadcasts all hockey games. Wildcat hockey can also be heard on Eagle 107.3 in Escanaba and Eagle 96.7 in Newberry.
Adult season tickets are $234 for all games or $135 for Friday or Saturday only games. Adult single game tickets are $16 for reserved or Section 9 general admission. Group tickets of 20 or more are available for $10. Visit NMWildcats.com for all ticketing information.
All home and WCHA games are available for viewing online through America One. An All-Access pass to all home NMU sporting events, including basketball, football, hockey and volleyball, is $125. A WCHA Hockey Pass is $125 and includes all 140 WCHA games. NMU hockey games will be shot in high definition. Visit NMUWildcats.com for all online streaming information.