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NMU Hockey Series Snapshot: Nanooks went to the danger zone

November 23, 2012 - Matt Wellens

MARQUETTE — The Northern Michigan University hockey team finally returns from the state of Ohio to host the Alaska Nanooks at 7:35 p.m. tonight and tomorrow at the Berry Events Center.

And of course, whenever you talk about the school formerly known and Alaska-Fairbanks, you have to play these awesome YouTube videos of the school’s opening at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks.

Now, some will tell you these videos are awful, corny, stupid, lame and over the top. Those people are lying to you, their friends, their family and themselves. They are awesome and we should all look forward to former UA(F) athletic director turned NMU AD Forrest Karr bringing these video openings to the Berry Events Center when and if a video board ever appears in the BEC.

Expect an epic death match between Wildcat Willy and HOCKEY BEAR that results in the destruction of Houghton and Anchorage.

Now on to less important things, like why the NMU hockey team is in last place in the CCHA after accumulating only five out of 24 league points through eight games and one point in four games in Ohio.

Now, correct me if you’ve heard this tune before, but penalties and the lack of a sufficient penalty kill seem to top the list, with the Wildcats doubling their penalty minutes in just four games, going from 88 minutes in eight games to 176 minutes after back-to-back series in Ohio against Miami and Ohio State.

NMU’s penalty kill ranks 56th in the nation out of 59 teams and only Bowling Green State has a worse PK in the CCHA than Northern. Excessive penalties by Walt Kyle’s ’Cats is nothing new of course — though as I wrote, it wasn’t as big of an issue in the first eight games compared to the last four — but the PK woes are.

Injuries and suspensions could also be playing a role in the skid with two players suspended and three more injured. All are key forwards in Northern’s offensive attack.

Junior Erik Higby will miss tonight’s game after receiving a game disqualification for contact to the head in Game 2 against Ohio State. Senior Matt Thurber has been suspended by Kyle for violating a team rule and will be back when Kyle says Thurber can come back.

Meanwhile, sophomore Reed Seckel and freshmen Darren Nowick and Justin Rose are all nursing injuries, though both Seckel and Nowick practiced on Thursday morning.

The Nanooks don’t appear to be focused on the Wildcats’ woes, however. One would think it’s because the team plays in a city where a giant angry polar bear from space resides with his lightning hockey stick.

It’s actually because the Nanooks have been outright awful at the Berry Events Center, like worse than NMU’s nine wins all time in Columbus, Ohio. As Danny Martin of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner writes, the Nanooks are 1-15-6 all time at the BEC with the lone win coming in February of 2005.

The Nanooks are coming to Marquette via Green Bay off of a home split against Western Michigan and sit in fourth in the CCHA with 13 league points and a 4-3-1 mark. Alaska is 6-4-2 overall.

Game notes for the Wildcats can be found here.

Nanook game notes can be found here.

Live video of the series will cost you $7 per game, however, there is live audio for free from 100.3 FM The Point via its website.

NMU is running a ticket special on this snowy Thanksgiving weekend as well of buy two adult tickets, get two half off.

Whether you are watching or listening at home or at the BEC, give me a follow on Twitter for updates and commentary from the game. It’s also a good idea to ‘Like’ my Facebook fan page in case I land in Twitter jail, which happened earlier this year against Michigan.



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