Let’s talk about the big one on the ice this weekend between Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech, first the Wildcats.
NMU split their home–and–home series against Lake Superior State last weekend and it was a special game at the Berry as sophomore forward Robbie Payne scored his first career hat trick. The series was 2–1–1 last year and Coach Walt Kyle is expecting a better Huskies team this time around.
“They have a good team up there for sure. We think we have a good team. I think they’re obviously really good in goal. Philips has been an exceptional goalie for them a year ago. They a good core defensemen. Petan is one of the best players in the league. Offensive threats and they have a number of defensive people. But every year, these rivalry games are really close a year ago and they were hard–fought and I would expect it to be much of the same,” Kyle said.
This rivalry is one of the most action–packed in the entire U.P. and some of the players talked about what they should expect this weekend.
“Just to be ready, ready for everything. We really want to win these games. It should be a fun battle,” Tolvanen said.
“Growing up, I knew what it was about. I lived in Houghton for a few years so I always knew the rivalry and now playing in it, it’s huge. It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work so it’s going to be fun,” said Payne.
“It’s one of the best rivalries in college hockey. It’s a healthy rivalry. It’s great for the fans. It’s great for the students. It’s great for the players that are involved. We’re excited to be having it,” Kyle said.
Game one will be tomorrow at the Berry Events Center and game two will be on Saturday at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Huskies split their road series at Ferris State last weekend and come into this series ranked 16th in the nation. Coach Mel Pearson says although the Wildcats aren’t ranked, they always bring the heat every year.
“I’m really looking forward to the games. It’s a real good rivalry. it’s a unique rivalry. We’re only separated by 90-some miles. I’ve been a part of it for a long time. They’ve got a good team. They’ve made some improvements. They’re healthy. I like our team. Given those two factors, I think it’s going to be a heck of a weekend,” Pearson said.
The teams didn’t first tangle last year until early January so it’s a bit earlier than usual to see these rivals duke it out. But Pearson says that’s the way he wants it.
“I like playing these games early in the season so it puts the focus on hockey. We come from hockey yards. Marquette, Houghton and the whole U.P. is a great hockey area so it really puts the focus this weekend on hockey this early in the year and we’re looking forward to it,” said Pearson.
Game one will be tomorrow at the Berry Events Center and game two will be on Saturday at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Puck drop for both games is scheduled for 7:07pm.