MARQUETTE – Eight days from now, the Northern Michigan University hockey team begins the season with a series against the Wisconsin Badgers at the Resch Center in Green Bay. That will be a good non–conference test for the ‘Cats, which will get them ready for another tough conference schedule in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
NMU was one of the younger teams in the WCHA last season and they still managed a playoff birth in the conference tournament. The ‘Cats played nine new guys– seven freshmen and two transfers– on a nightly basis.
All of those guys now have that always valuable ‘playing experience’, which will go a long way, along with a number of other factors, in determining where NMU finishes in the WCHA this season.
“I think that it always takes, first of all, good leadership. I think it takes good people within the team taking charge of the team. I think it takes good chemistry amongst the players on the team… I think those things are critical,” said NMU head coach Walt Kyle. “I think if we have that and a little bit of luck in regards to health, I like our talent. We’re much further ahead than we were at this time a year ago. We just have to take care of business now.”
“I like the togetherness of the team,” said NMU co–captain Ryan Kesti. “Compared to other years, this is the tightest group we’ve had as a whole. When that happens, I think that you can have a really good team.”
“Everyone kind of feeds off each other and I think that’s a big thing comes down to winning or losing games,” said NMU co-captain Jake Baker. “You have to be a good group together, that’s really important. We have that this year. One of the main things is that stuff is going to happen this year. There’s injuries, bad games, good games… you just have to work on each other to improve and stick with each other throughout the year and you’ll get success.”
NMU has a scrimmage planned for this Saturday at the Berry Events Center. Puck drop is set for 7 p.m.