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A look back at the Northern Michigan University hockey program's final CCHA season
March 21, 2013 - Matt Wellens
MARQUETTE — Prior to the Northern Michigan University hockey team's Central Collegiate Hockey Association opening series against Notre Dame at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, I compiled the Wildcats' top 10 moments from the program's time in the CCHA from 1977-1984 and 1997-2012.
As I dug through archives and picked people's brains, I wondered whether or not the feature would leave out anything memorable from the 'Cats final season in the CCHA.
Turns out all that worrying was for nothing because Northern's final season prior to returning to the WCHA proved forgettable.
While the league celebrated its 42 year legacy, NMU struggled to a 10th-place finish in the CCHA with a 9-15-4 league record during the regular season and a 15-19-4 overall mark that includes a first-round exit from the playoffs via 3-2 and 6-2 losses to Michigan at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor.
The bright spot for Northern was its 6-2 nonconference record, which included a sweep of co-WCHA regular season champion St. Cloud State in St. Cloud, Minn. and a sweep of WCHA Final Five qualifier Wisconsin in Green Bay.
But like everything else, that bright spot also had a major blemish in the form of an 8-2 loss to Michigan Tech in Houghton.
The Wildcats' second losing season in three years since reaching the CCHA Championship game and NCAA tournament in 2009-10, plus a third-straight first-round exit from the CCHA playoffs resulted in a hard look not only from head coach Walt Kyle, but from possible 2013-14 captain Reed Seckel.
Below are links to the three-part Mining Journal NMU Hockey 2012-13 Season Wrap-up, detailing the team's struggles on special teams — specifically the power play — the disappointing year for the defensemen and the thoughts of NMU's leading goal scorer, Seckel, on what the team needs to do to turn things around next year.
For the latest on the NMU hockey program this offseason, follow Matt on Twitter.
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Northern Michigan University junior forward Stephan Vigier battles a Michigan Tech Husky for the puck on Dec. 4 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal file photo by Matt Keiser)