Stage is set for WCHA championship game at Berry Events Center

The stage was set and it came down to game 3, the deciding best of three series for the semifinals for the WCHA playoffs. Win the game and you go to the championship game. Lose and your season is over. Even though the crowd seemed a little smaller than Friday and Saturday night, the fan base on Sunday seemed to be enthusiastic and ready to cheer the cats on to victory.

As with all Northern Michigan University hockey games, the first order of business is to play the National Anthem. The announcement is made to the fans to please remove your hats and face the flag for the playing of the National Anthem. Everyone is properly positioned and waiting to hear the start of the anthem. Several seconds go by and there is only silence in the arena.

The past two nights there was an individual that sang the anthem, but apparently, she was not there on Sunday night. We assume that someone in the press box area was supposed to cue up a recording of the anthem to play. That did not happen! Then something quite magical happened when the fans made the game’s first big save and they all started singing the anthem.

It started out a with the singing coming across softly, but you could hear it being sung. Then the words to the anthem appeared on the video boards about half way through the anthem and the participation and volume increased.

By the end of the anthem the home crowd finishing with the “home of the brave” was in full voice. Following the anthem, the fans gave themselves a well-deserved round of applause for the first big save of the game.

Everyone who sang the anthem used that exercise to take even more ownership in the outcome of the game. We hope the team took pride in the fact that the fan base had their “6” (back) from the anthem to the last second of the game.

The fans had done their part now it was up to the Wildcats to put on a good show on the ice and that is exactly what happened. The volume from the crowd at the game was strong while the Wildcats went into the final minutes of the game with a 2-1 lead. The air went out of the balloon a little bit when Bowling Green scored the tying goal with 8 seconds left in the game.

The fan support reappeared in the overtime period trying to will the Wildcats on to victory. About 16 minutes into the overtime, winger Troy Loggins took a shot from the blue line that sailed over the shoulder of Falcons goalie Ryan Bednard. What a finish to the game and now the Wildcats move on to the championship game. The excitement in the arena was possibly as strong as it has ever been.

To add to the success at The Berry Event Center word came shortly after the Wildcat game finished that Michigan Tech had upset Minnesota State, which meant that the WCHA Championship Game would be played on Saturday at the Berry Event Center. Home ice for the championship game!

We have asked for fan support in several previous editorials. Hockeyville USA has come through with flying colors. The championship game is sold out, but there is still a need through loud vocal support for the team to help secure a victory on home ice this Saturday. When the National Anthem is played before the championship game, even if they have someone to lead the song, we encourage the fans to join in and sing along.

It seemed to help for the semifinal game win, it just may make a difference for the championship game. Great job NMU Hockey fans on supporting your team again. The enthusiasm is back, the excitement is back and that winning feeling is back.

Let’s cheer the team on to victory on Saturday for the WCHA Championship game. Go Cats!