MARQUETTE - At sixth place in the WCHA with 17 points and 2-4 games in hand on the competition, the Wildcats find themselves at a crossroads the next two weeks against the top two teams in the league.
NMU hosts second-place Minnesota State at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and Saturday at the Berry Events Center before traveling to first-place Ferris State next weekend.
A good couple of weekends could put the 'Cats into the race for a top-four finish and home ice in the first round of the WCHA playoffs. A couple of bad weekends could leave NMU fighting for the No. 8 seed and just a spot in the league's postseason tournament, which leaves out the No. 9 and 10 teams.
Three teams with 16 points - Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech and Alaska - are tied for seventh behind Northern. LSSU and Tech have played two more games than NMU and Alaska four more.
Ahead of NMU are three teams who have played four more games than NMU in third-place Bowling Green (23 points), fourth-place Alaska-Anchorage (21 points) and fifth-place Bemidji State (20 points).
UAA, BSU, LSSU and Ferris are all on the bye this weekend, while Alaska and BGSU are on the bye the following week.
That will allow all 10 WCHA members to be within two games played of each other when all 10 are in league action Feb. 14-15.