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NMU Hockey Series Snapshot: Jim Roque is not a fan home-and-home series

December 14, 2012 - Matt Wellens

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University hockey team wraps up the 2012 fall semester with a two-game CCHA series in Sault Ste. Marie against Lake Superior State.

Tonight’s game is at 7:35 p.m. while Saturday’s start time is 7:05 p.m.

In the now distant past, the Lakers and Wildcats used to play home-and-home series twice a year which makes a lot of sense since Marquette and Sault Ste. Marie are only three hours apart.

The home-and-home set up created a number of positives both for fans and the teams.

For fans, home-and-homes meant an extra weekend of hockey. It also allowed fans to make a day trip to either the Sault or Marquette in order to see all four games of the rivalry.

For the teams, home-and-home meant two less nights in a hotel and two more nights in your own bed. While there is the cost of an extra bus trip, that’s much cheaper than hotel accommodations and meal costs.

So based on all of this, why aren’t the Lakers and Wildcats playing a home-and-home series?

Ask LSSU head coach Jim Roque. If it was up to NMU head coach Walt Kyle and NMU, they’d still be playing home-and-homes.

There’s my yearly rant on this issue. Now onto the series.

NMU enters the series after a 10-day layoff, having last played in a 2-1 victory over Michigan Tech in Marquette on Dec. 4. The victory was called a big momentum boost, but the over week-long layoff may have killed it.

The Lakers picked up a more recent momentum-building win on Saturday, Dec. 8 in Oxford, Ohio by topping Miami 1-0 to earn a series split on the road. Junior goaltender Kevin Murdock — not highly touted junior Kevin Kapalka — made 38 saves for the shutout.

The split moved LSSU into seventh place, five points ahead of the Wildcats, who enter the weekend in a three-way tie for last in the CCHA with Bowling Green State and Michigan State.

Kyle said only playoff games can be considered must-win games, however, a number of players have hinted that this series is a must-sweep if the program wants to make some sort of run in 2013.

In order to sweep LSSU or even make any kind of run in 2013, NMU will need its offense to pick up. While sophomore Ryan Daugherty has been a welcome surprise as the team’s leading goal scorer, Kyle is expecting others like sophomore Reed Seckel, junior Stephan Vigier and senior Matt Thurber to step up their goal production.

It’s over a week old, but last Wednesday NMU assistant coach and goalies guru Joey Shawhan chatted with Casey Ford of ESPN 970 AM about the victory over Tech and where the Wildcats are at this point in the season, among other things.

Shawhan, an NMU graduate, is one of three on the Wildcats’ side with ties to Sault Ste. Marie. Shawhan is a former LSSU goaltender and assistant coach. He also coached the Soo Indians NAHL team for 10 years. His nephew, NMU senior Kory Kaunisto, is a graduate of Sault Area High while freshman Michael Doan is a native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.

Game notes for Northern Michigan can be found here.

A short preview (sorry, no game notes online it appears) for LSSU can be found here, with some information at the end on Friday’s canned food drive and the Saturday Teddy Bear Toss at Taffy Abel Arena.

For those who can’t make it to Sault Ste. Marie (like me) this weekend, NMU and LSSU both use the same live streaming video service, but the Lakers charge an extra dollar, so it’s $8 per game.

NMU and 100.3 FM The Point also offer a free online audio feed with Dave Danis on the call.



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LSSU head coach Jim Roque