Season opener: Wildcats host Bowling Green State on Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2;
Game times TBA
MARQUETTE – Spring is here, so what does that mean in the world of sports?
Just time to announce the schedule for that most winter of sports, hockey, at Northern Michigan University.
Actually, it’s good to know the Wildcats ’slate well ahead of its season faceoff on the first day of October, when Northern will be at home on Oct. 1 and 2 to host CCHA rival Bowling Green State. This will mark the first games of the season for the entire league.
Game times haven’t been established yet.
Those games are unusual for two reasons – firstly, it will be a Saturday-Sunday series, while all other series except one other are Friday-Saturday; and secondly, it will be NMU’s only league series for more than a month as the Wildcats follow up opening weekend with three straight nonconference series.
The nonconference foes, which are the only ones on the schedule released by the university on Thursday, are Colgate, Notre Dame, Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks.
The first two are NMU teams played last season when it finished with a 20-16-1 record, including a 12-13-1 mark in the CCHA.
Last season in early January, Northern swept Colgate in Marquette 4-2 and 6-3. This season, the Wildcats travel to Hamilton, New York, to play the Raiders on Oct. 7-8.
That sweep was remarkable in that now-graduated NMU senior Trevor Cosgrove earned CCHA Defenseman of the Week after a four-point weekend against the team he had played at for four years prior to last season.
Notre Dame is on the Northern schedule again on Oct. 14 and 16, a Friday and Sunday, hosting the Wildcats in South Bend, Indiana. Last season, the Fighting Irish played a single game at the Berry Events Center in mid-October, with NMU falling 5-2 when freshman goalie Charlie Glockner made his Wildcats’ official debut at midgame and didn’t allow a goal.
Glockner had also tended the net the previous night in an exhibition home game against the U.S. National Team Development Program Under-18 team and won that game 5-3, earning him the CCHA Goaltender of the Week award.
The next two nonconference series against Alaska-Anchorage and Alaska-Fairbanks are against familiar foes that didn’t play in the WCHA’s final season of 2019-20 and didn’t join NMU and seven other schools in re-forming the CCHA last season.
Now they’re back playing hockey, but as independents. The Seawolves of Anchorage come to Marquette on Oct. 21-22 and the Nanbanks of Fairbanks are in town the following weekend, Oct. 28-29.
After that is a solid two dozen games worth of CCHA action for the Wildcats. They have several off weekends around the holidays, not playing on Thanksgiving weekend of Nov. 25-26 nor around Christmas and New Year’s on Dec. 16-17, Dec. 23-24 and Dec. 30-31. They also have an off weekend on Jan. 13-14.
A road series in Sault Ste. Marie against Lake Superior State
on Nov. 4-5 opens NMU’s league slate, followed by a home series vs. Bemidji State and road series at Minnesota State-Mankato.
After Thanksgiving, Northern has its first home-and-home series against nearby Michigan Tech on Dec. 2-3, with the Friday game in Marquette.
Then follows a road series at Ferris State on Dec. 9-10 with the three-weekend holiday break.
The Wildcats pick up play again on Jan. 6-7 with a home series vs. Mankato, followed by their last weekend off.
Then it’s a sprint to the finish with six straight CCHA series before the regular season ends Feb. 24-25 against the NMU team begins the season with, Bowling Green State, in Bowling Green, Ohio.
The half-dozen series in a row to finish the campaign opens at Bemidji State in Bemidji, Minnesota, on Jan. 20-21. It’s followed by a home-and-home vs. MTU (Saturday in Marquette), home vs. LSSU, on the road at St. Thomas and home vs. Ferris before the final BGSU set.
The Wildcats would seem to be at a slight disadvantage as they only play St. Thomas twice while facing every other league team four times. It’s a disadvantage as St. Thomas, in its inaugural season in the NCAA Division I, had a paltry 3-32-1 overall record and a 3-22-1 CCHA mark last year.
Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is email@example.com.