#17 Wildcats Face Tough Road Series At #1 Cornell

Sports
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January 15, 2020

MARQUETTE, Mich. — The Wildcats of Northern Michigan face another tough challenge on the road as they head east to Ithaca, New York for a weekend battle with top-ranked Cornell. The 17th-ranked Wildcats are coming off their second consecutive sweep following a pair of victories over the Alaska Anchorage Seawolves last weekend. This will be their third ranked opponent in the last four series, with the Wildcats owning a 3-1-0 record in those games.

All-time, the Wildcats trail the Big Red 3-5-0 with NMU looking to get back in the win column against Cornell, having dropped their last three meetings in close battles. Last season, Cornell left Marquette with a sweep when the Wildcats dropped two close decisions, 3-1 and 3-2.

In their last meeting, all five goals scored (L, 3-2) came with the man-advantage. Philip Beaulieu and Caleb Schroer both picked up assists in the game while Mitchel Slattery posted the lone Wildcat goal on Friday night.

Darien Craighead has also found success against the Big Red, recording a power play goal in their 2016 meeting at the Florida Classic.

The first ever meeting between the two squads came in 1980 with the Wildcats advancing to the NCAA Championship game following a 5-4 victory over Cornell in the Frozen Four. Three of their seven all-time meetings have come in post season play with the Wildcats owning a 2-1 record in such games.

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Northern Michigan is currently riding a five-game winning-streak following their second consecutive sweep and remain undefeated in 2020, with a 4-0-0 record since the new year.

The Wildcats are coming off a weekend sweep of Alaska Anchorage where they outscored the Seawolves 10-4, including a hat trick performance from Vincent de Mey on Saturday night. Fourteen Wildcats highlighted the box score over the weekend with two individuals leading the way with four points each (de Mey, 3-1-4; Darien Craighead, 1-3-4).

Tallying the first goal of the night Saturday, AJ Vanderbeck‘s power play goal was the first of his career to help boost his team to a 6-3 victory.

The Wildcats remain undefeated against the Seawolves since 2017 (10-0-0) and have won their last 11 straight over the Alaskan foe.

The Wildcats held a 9-7-2 record heading into the holiday break. After a hot start to the season which saw the team hold a 6-1-2 record, including an eight-game undefeated stretch, the Wildcats faltered slightly towards the end of November. Getting back in the win column with a 3-1 victory over Alabama Huntsville, the team went on to post a weekend split with then top-ranked Minnesota State to round out the first half of the season.

Once a question of the offensive power this year’s team would bring, all doubts seem to be washed aside as the team’s top two scorers hail from the sophomore class in Griffin Loughran (21 pts.; 13-8-21) and Vincent de Mey (16 pts.; 9-7-16). The Wildcats’ third-highest goal scorer is Andre Ghantous, a rookie forward out of Glendale, California, who boasts eight goals and ranks tied for sixth on the team in total points (11). Over half of the team’s goal total comes off the tape of Loughran, de Mey and Ghantous who have combined for 30 goals this season or 51.7 percent of the team’s total. At the holiday break, Loughran’s 13 goals ranks atop the nation while he is currently second in the country in goals per game, averaging 0.72.

In total, the Wildcats won eight WCHA weekly awards in the first half of the season, while de Mey was named Forward of the Month by the league for his stellar play through the first month of competition. De Mey has been named WCHA Forward of the Week on three occasions and Loughran has earned the honor once this season. Andre Ghantous (rookie) and Nolan Kent (goaltender) also earned a weekly conference recognition during the first half of the season. To close out 2019, Ben Newhouse (defenseman) and Michael Van Unen (rookie) earned their first conference honors following the team’s weekend split with Minnesota State.

After three consecutive wins over ranked opponents, the Wildcats broke back into the national polls with a No. 19 ranking in the first USCHO poll of 2020. The team has continued up the ranks, reaching No. 17 at the latest poll.

  • Griffin Loughran‘s team-leading 17 goals leads the nation and is second in goals per game (0.77), just six-one hundredth’s shy of the nation’s best. With 1.27 points per game, Loughran is 12th nationally in the category.
  • Loughran’s two power play tallies at Bowling Green boost him to five on the season, tied for ninth in the nation with teammate Vincent de Mey.
  • Posting two game-winners at Ferris State, Loughran ranks eighth in the nation in game-winning goals with three.
  • Philip Beaulieu‘s 97 points in 22 games (3-16-19) ranks 10th in the nation among all defensemen in points per game (0.86).
  • With a season record of 9-2-0, sophomore netminder Nolan Kent owns a 0.818 win percentage for fourth overall.
  • Averaging 3.50 goals per game, the Wildcat offense ranks eighth in the nation in scoring and are 14th overall on the man-advantage, finding the back of the net on 21 of 94 chances for a 22.3 percent success rate.
  • Riding a five-game undefeated stretch, the Wildcats own the third-longest unbeaten stretch with a 5-0-0 record.

Nolan Kent and Vincent de Mey are the most recent WCHA Wildcat honorees, having been named Players of the Week following their efforts in NMU’s sweep of UAA. De Mey helped to spur the Wildcats’ four-goal third period on Saturday night, posting three goals over a 6:51 span in the final frame to earn his first career hat trick. Kent backstopped the Wildcats to their second straight sweep and five-game win-streak with a league-high 56 saves on the weekend for a .938 save percentage. He now ranks fourth nationally among active goaltenders with a win percentage of .818 and a 9-2-0 record. Since the Wildcats’ win over Minnesota State to end 2019, Kent is the only league netminder to start more than two games and post an undefeated record (5-0-0) while he is tied for first nationally over that stretch.

Kent was also named Goaltender of the Week the week prior following his performance in net as NMU swept then-No. 11 Bowling Green. Making 77 saves over the two-game period, Kent stopped a career-high-tying 39 shots on Saturday to lead the team to a 4-3 overtime victory.

After a weekend split with Minnesota State, junior defenseman Ben Newhouse and freshman Michael Van Unen earned WCHA Player of the Week honors. Newhouse, named Defenseman of the Week, scored his first-ever game-winning goal as the Wildcats defeated the top-ranked Mavericks, 4-1, at home. He also led the league in blocks over the weekend, jumping in front of eight shots to keep Friday’s game close before helping clinch the victory on Saturday by stepping in the way of the puck three times. Van Unen opened the scoring in Saturday’s contest, breaking the 0-0 tie in the second period when he tallied his first goal in a Wildcat sweater. He went on to post an assist on Newhouse’s goal for the first multi-point night of his career. Stepping in at forward, the offensive-minded defenseman jumped in front of four shots to preserve the lead and help the team to a weekend split with the Mavericks.

De Mey was named WCHA Forward of the Month for October. As the month came to a close, de Mey had found the back of the net in five different games while his three goals on the power play ranked second in the nation and his six goals and eight total points ranked tied for first among all Wildcats. Through the first four games of the season, de Mey had matched his rookie total of five goals, which includes recording his first career multi-goal game (two) in a 4-3 victory at then-No. 20/RV Boston University. 

Averaging 1.00 goals per game through the first month of competition, de Mey ranked third nationally and sat second in the league in overall point-scoring with 1.50 points per game. He led the WCHA in total goals (six) and recorded the most points on the power play of any WCHA member with three goals and an assist for four total points. His streak helped carry the Northern Michigan Wildcats to their first four-win opening month since 2017-18 (4-2-0) and strongest start by win percentage since the 2014-15 season (4-0-1).

Previous Wildcat honors include Vincent de Mey who was named WCHA Forward of the Week following his three-point weekend against Michigan State. He earned the honor for the second consecutive week after his three-goal weekend at Boston University. Griffin Loughran and Kent also earned WCHA recognition following the Wildcats’ first weekend sweep of the season at Ferris State.

Seventeen members of the 2018-19 squad will lace their skates up again for the Wildcats this season. Nolan Kent looks strong in net as the last line of defense, taking over for all-time Wildcat program leader Atte Tolvanen who was named WCHA Goaltender of the Year in 2018-19. On the blueline, the Wildcats return three members of last season’s team, including reigning WCHA Defenseman of the Year in senior captain Philip Beaulieu. He is joined by fellow senior Rylan Yaremko and junior Adam Roeder. Eleven Wildcats are back at the front, in two seniors, three juniors and six sophomores. The offense talent amassed 114 of the Wildcats’ total 282 points last season.

The Wildcats add nine newcomers to the team in 2019-20 as well as junior defenseman, Ben Newhouse, who sat out the 2018-19 season due to transfer requirements. The team also added three goaltenders in the offseason, two of which look to split time between the pipes with sophomore netminder, Nolan Kent

In the off-season, Northern Michigan lost 46% of their point-scoring to graduation but the 2019-20 squad seems poised to fill those shoes. Two rising seniors made up part of the team’s top-five scorers last year in Philip Beaulieu (6-29-35) and Darien Craighead (10-10-20). The veteran duo now looks to lead the young team to even more time in the offensive zone.

The Wildcats were pegged to finish fourth in the WCHA this season as voted on by the league’s coaches in the 2019-20 Mankato Free Press WCHA Preseason Coaches’ Poll. The media picked Northern Michigan to finish third through the regular season, behind only unanimous favorite Minnesota State and Bowling Green.

Having served as an alternate captain in 2018-19, senior defenseman Philip Beaulieu (Duluth, Minn.) was named captain of the 2019-20 squad prior to the season.

The third head coach in NMU Hockey history enters his third season behind the bench in 2019-20. In two seasons with the team, Potulny has led the Wildcats to two 20+ win seasons and boasts a career head coaching record of 46-31-5. Last season the team went 21-16-2, which included a berth in the WCHA semifinals where they faced Bowling Green. In his first season at the helm of the Wildcats, Potulny’s team recorded a 25-15-3 season, it’s first 25-win season since 2001-02 and advanced to the WCHA Championship game.

Throughout the 2019-20 season, the Wildcats will celebrate the history of Women’s Sports at Northern Michigan. Fans are encouraged to contribute with their favorite and most memorable moments and athletes of NMU women’s sports. Please go to THIS LINK to contribute your favorite or most memorable moment and athletes. More information on this year’s celebration can be found HERE.

The Wildcats will continue their long road trip with a trek to the last frontier following their weekend in New York. Earlier this year the two teams split their series in Marquette.

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