Wildcats set for WCHA opener in Soo

MARQUETTE – Last weekend, the Northern Michigan Wildcats opened their season with a bang.

The Wildcats swept No. 18 Wisconsin 2-0 and 4-1 in the heart of Badgers territory at the Resch Center in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The big statistic of the weekend was NMU keeping the Badgers scoreless on the power play – Wisconsin is now 0 of 18 this season – and the player that stood out most was goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom, who was named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week.

“We were happy with the weekend,” NMU head coach Walt Kyle said. “I told the guys, though, that it’s just a start and that we have to move forward.

“Our penalty kill was great. Last year, we weren’t great on it and we spent a lot of time talking to people and adjusting our tactics.

“It’s again just one weekend. We were happy that we were good at it, but we have to continue to do so.”

When asked about his performance, Dahlstrom shrugged it off and gave the credit to his teammates.

“That award was all about the players in front of me,” he said. “That’s the reason I got it. They were unbelievable and they helped me see the puck. I just went out there and did my job.”

This weekend, the Wildcats play their first WCHA series this season with a trip to Sault Ste. Marie to face Lake Superior State. NMU split two games at home with the Lakers last season.

LSSU is currently winless at 0-6 and was predicted to finish near the bottom of the conference. Lake State has played well the first game of each series so far, then fallen flat in the second.

Despite the Lakers’ struggles, the Wildcats aren’t taking them lightly.

“They are a team that is going to compete extremely hard,” Kyle said. “We’ve had some success in their building the last few years, but we’ll have to be ready for a real battle.

“They’ve played a couple of tough teams this year like (Michigan) Tech and Notre Dame, and they hung right in there.

“I’m not going to look past them and we can’t afford to look past anybody. They are capable of beating anyone.”

NMU forwards Darren Nowick and Dominik Shine agreed with their coach, both of them emphasizing the importance of not getting cocky after last weekend’s big sweep.

“We’re comfortable and confident right now, but these are four big points this weekend,” Nowick said. “They are a strong team and we know that they are going to come out strong. They play at a fast pace, so we are going to have to have to keep up with them.”

“They are always a tough team and they have a lot of players that I’m familiar with growing up in the Michigan area,” Shine said. “I think it’s important not to let last weekend get to our heads. It’s a big win, but it’s still only two games. We haven’t done much yet, so hopefully we can stay humble and get some more wins.”

The puck drops at 7:37 p.m. Friday and 7:07 p.m. Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 246. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.