Comley most deserving of ice sheet honor

On Saturday night, just a little over a year after Marquette celebrated hockey with its Hockeyville USA NHL exhibition game, there will be another significant hockey event taking place. The ice at The Berry Events Center will be dedicated as the Rick Comley Rink.

We encourage all community members who supported us being named Hockeyville USA in 2016 to come out and support the Northern Michigan University Wildcats hockey team in its home opener and also be part of the dedication to honor NMU’s first hockey coach.

Rick Comley started the program in 1976 and coached for 26 years at Northern that included winning a national championship in 1991. Comley created a successful program in Marquette and his winning record helped put NMU hockey on the national map as a well respected program. Other major hockey programs like Michigan State, Michigan and Wisconsin, to mention a few, had great respect for NMU as an opponent. Comley is ranked among the top five coaches all-time in victories.

Comley was a major factor in the Marquette area being known as a hockey town. We encourage every fan who has shared the success of the NMU hockey program under Comley’s leadership to show up for this weekend’s game and show your appreciation for the impact Comley had on hockey in Marquette.

A full house at the Berry Events Center will also help to fire up the NMU Wildcats for their home opener. New head coach Grant Potulny is excited for the season to start and having great fan support will make a big difference in future success for Wildcat hockey.

We realize that NMU hockey has been on a downhill slide for a number of years, with some numbers we’ve heard indicating a more than 75 percent drop in season-ticket holders last year compared to the early days of the Berry. Northern’s administration recognized this loss of fan support and made the necessary change by hiring a new coach in an effort to rebuild the program. Initial reviews on the new coach have been quite positive from current players and area fans. We believe that strong fan support on Saturday night and throughout this season will play a big role in its future success.

Let’s show Rick Comley the gratitude he deserves with a strong attendance at the game and at the same time show new coach Grant Potulny that the Marquette area is second to none when it comes to supporting its hockey teams.

As a side note, for those who would like to offer a financial gift in support of Comley to say thanks, they can make a donation to the Comley-Heiskanen scholarship at www.nmu.edu/give. This scholarship is awarded annually to an NMU player.

Larry Heiskanen passed away last year and he was a dear friend of Comley and a huge supporter of the NMU hockey program. Heiskanen was director of development for athletics and a hockey equipment manager.

The Comley-Heiskanen Scholarship is a great way to recognize both men and thank them for the impact they have had on NMU hockey.

Make sure you are in attendance at the Lake Superior State vs. Northern Michigan University hockey game on Saturday night. The rink dedication is set to take place just before the 7 p.m. puck drop.

Let’s start a new era of successful hockey at NMU by attending the game.