College Hockey Series of the Week: Northern Michigan vs. Minnesota State
It's February, and the WCHA currently has two teams within the top 20 of the USCHO poll. No. 15 Northern Michigan (16-8-4) and No. 3 Minnesota State (24-4-2) will faceoff at the Mankato Civic Center in Mankato, Minnesota for a pair of matchups on Friday and Saturday night.
Northern Michigan is coming off a dominant series sweep of Ferris State last weekend. With 5-2 wins in both games at Berry Events Center.
Scoring a combined 10 goals vs Ferris State, coach Grant Potulny’s team is tied for the seventh-best offense in the nation with Nate Leaman’s Providence team, averaging 3.50 goals per game.
Griffin Loughran, Vincent de Mey, Joseph Nardi and Darien Craighead lead the Wildcat offense. Loughran leads all skaters in goals and points with 20 and 34. Along with five power-play goals. Mey and Craighead are tied in points with 24 each. While Nardi leads the forwards in assists (16) and plus-minus rating (21).
On the blueline, senior Philip Beaulieu anchors the defensive unit. In 28 games played, Beaulieu has a plus-minus rating of plus-15, along with 17 assists, four goals and 21 points. Ben Newhouse isn’t afraid of putting his body on the line, as he leads the team with 46 blocks.
Between the pipes is sophomore Nolan Kent. In 20 games, Kent has a save percentage of .911, a goal against average of 2.58 and has given up 43 goals.
As for Minnesota State, the Mavericks have continued their dominance, winning 19 of their last 23 games. Last weekend, Minnesota State recorded a 7-1 win and a 2-2 tie against Alaska-Anchorage.
Offensively, the Mavericks are led by senior forward Marc Michaelis. Michaelis leads all skaters with 16 goals, five being game-winning goals and seven coming on the powerplay. Freshman Lucas Sowder leads the team in assists with 19, along with a plus-minus rating of plus-12. Right behind the two is Jared Spooner. The junior has the highest plus-minus rating of all forwards with a plus-18, along with six goals, 10 assists and 16 points.
The back end is comprised of skilled defensemen, such as Connor Mackey, Ian Scheid and Jack McNeely. Mackey, who was recently named WCHA Defenseman of the Week for the second straight week, leads all skaters in plus-minus rating with a plus-20. Mackey also has four goals, 16 assists and 20 points this season. Scheid and McNeely are more passing defensemen with 15 and eight assists respectively.
Hobey Baker Award nominee Dryden McKay has established himself as one of the best goaltenders in the country. McKay has a record of 23-3-2 in 38 games played, with a save percentage of .940, a goals-against-average of 1.36 and seven shutouts.
Minnesota State leads the WCHA with 56 points and Northern Michigan is in third place with 44 points. A huge series for both teams with Bemidji State sitting in second place with 51 points. Minnesota State looks to create some space between themselves and Bemidji State, while Northern Michigan hopes to gain ground. Minnesota State leads the series this season, 3-1. It’s sure to be an intense series at the Mankato Civic Center.
Prediction: Minnesota State Sweeps 2-0
Game 1: Minnesota State 5, Northern Michigan 1
Game 2: Minnesota State 4, Northern Michigan 2
Jordan Hession is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com
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Junior / Broadcast Journalism