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Northern Michigan Wildcats men's ice hockey

The Northern Michigan Wildcats men's ice hockey team is a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I college ice hockey program that represents Northern Michigan University (NMU). The Wildcats are a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). NMU has won one national title and has made three Frozen Four appearances. They play at the Berry Events Center in Marquette, Michigan.[2]

Northern Michigan Wildcats
UniversityNorthern Michigan University
Head coachGrant Potulny
2nd season, 25–15–3 (.616)
Captain(s)Denver Pierce
Alternate captain(s)Adam Rockwood, Philip Beaulieu
ArenaBerry Events Center
Capacity: 3,902
Surface: 200' x 100'
LocationMarquette, Michigan
ColorsGreen and Gold[1]
NCAA Tournament championships
NCAA Tournament Frozen Four
1980, 1981, 1991
NCAA Tournament appearances
1980, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1999, 2010
Conference Tournament championships
1980, 1981, 1989, 1991, 1992
Conference regular season championships
1979–80, 1980–81, 1990–91
Current uniform



Early historyEdit

Under the Direction of NMU's President, John X. Jamrich, the initial ice hockey program was originally initiated by Seniors Gregory Hyde and Christopher Nolan in 1974. The NMU men's ice hockey program began in 1976, competing as an independent NCAA Division I team and probationary member of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) for the 1976–77 season. During that season NMU competed against CCHA teams but did not count for league standings. Northern Michigan became a full member of the CCHA the following season.[3]

In the first two season as a full member of the CCHA Northern Michigan finished with back-to-back 19 win seasons before a historic season in program history in 1979–80. During the 1979–80 season the team won its first CCHA regular season championship and CCHA Playoff Tournament championship.[2] The Wildcats advanced to their first ever NCAA Tournament appearance and won their first game 4–3 against Minnesota. NMU advanced to the National Championship game with a semifinal win over Cornell 5–4. Northern Michigan finished as the runner-up to North Dakota.[4] In addition to the tournament being the first tournament and National Championship appearance for Northern Michigan, it was also the highest NCAA Tournament finish for a CCHA team. NMU head coach Rick Comley became the first CCHA coach to receive the Spencer Penrose Award given to the NCAA Division I Men's Hockey Coach of the Year.[3]

The success of the 1979–80 season continued for the 1980–81 season. The Wildcats again won the CCHA regular season and playoff championships and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.[5] The Wildcats won the quarterfinal game against Cornell 10–7 but fell to Wisconsin 5–1.[5]

WCHA yearsEdit

On January 5, 1984, Northern Michigan announced the program was leaving the CCHA after seven seasons two league and playoff championships and two NCAA Tournament berths for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). The following day it was announced that rival Michigan Tech was also leaving the CCHA for WCHA.[3] The 1988–89 season marked the first time NMU qualified for the NCAA Tournament as a member of the WCHA.[2] Unlike previous NCAA appearances Northern Michigan fell in the first round to Providence 5–4.[6]

Northern Michigan qualified for the 1991 NCAA Tournament after winning the WCHA regular season championship. Northern Michigan won two games to none in the quarterfinal round against Alaska-Anchorage, 8–5 and 5–3.[7] NMU advanced and beat Maine 5–3 in the semifinal round. The Wildcats matched up in the National Championship game in St. Paul, Minnesota on April 1, 1991, against Boston University and won 8–7 in three overtime periods.[7] The 1990–91 season also set a program best record of 38–5–4 and a winning percentage of .851.[2] It also marked the program's first and only NCAA Championship. The Wildcats returned to the National Tournament in 1992 NCAA Division I Men's Ice Hockey Tournament as the 4th seed of the West Regional held in Detroit, Michigan. NMU picked up a first round win over Clarkson 8–4 before losing in the quarterfinal round 7–6 to Michigan.[8] The 1992–93 season marked the third straight NCAA Tournament appearance. NMU won a close game in the opening round of the 1993 Tournament in the East Regional in Worcester, Massachusetts, against Harvard. The Wildcats won a close game 3–2 in two overtime periods but fell 4–1 in the second round to Boston University in a rematch of the 1991 National Championship.[9]

During the following seasons NMU remained competitive in the WCHA but by the mid-1990s the program fell into the bottom half of the standings.[2] After six 20-plus win seasons from 1988–89 season through the 1993–94 season, the Wildcats failed to reach 15 wins in their last three seasons in the WCHA. The 1995–96 season marked a program low record of 7–30–2.[2] On August 19, 1996, the CCHA approved Northern Michigan's application to rejoin the league for the 1997–98 season after 13 years in the WCHA.[3] During the years in the WCHA the Wildcats accumulated a record of 263–243–30.[2]

Recent historyEdit

The Northern Michigan Wildcats at the 2015 Great Lakes Invitational

The return to the CCHA reinvigorated the program after several underachieving seasons and rebuilding years. In the 1996-97 season, the first back in the CCHA, the Wildcats finished with a record of 19–15–4. The season was the first winning record since the 1993–94 season.[2] And in the following season NMU reached the NCAA National Tournament for the seventh time in program history. Northern Michigan entered the tournament as the 5th seed in the West Regional. Northern Michigan's playoff run was ended early by Boston College in a low scoring game 1–2.[10]

On June 13, 2002, it was announced that Walt Kyle would take over as head coach for the Wildcats to become the second coach in program history. Rick Comley left to take over the head coaching position at Michigan State after 26 seasons behind the bench of the Wildcats.[11][12] Kyle won his first game as head coach of Northern Michigan on October 5, 2002, against Upper Michigan rival Michigan Tech, 4–1.[13][14] Kyle's first CCHA victory came on October 18, 2002, 10–4 against Rick Comley and his Michigan State team.[14][15] Kyle led the Wildcats to four straight 20+ win seasons from 2002–2006 and six of his first eight seasons behind the NMU bench.[2]

One of the most successful seasons in recent history came in the 2009–10 season. Northern Michigan finished the regular season ranked fourth in the CCHA and ranked 16th in the nation. The Wildcats received a first round bye in the CCHA tournament and matched up against Alaska Fairbanks, coming off first round sweep of Western Michigan. Northern Michigan swept the Nanooks two games to none with 4–3 and 5–1 victories,[16] advancing NMU to the semifinal round. Northern Michigan took on Ferris State looking to overcome the semifinal losses the previous two seasons.[2] The Wildcats came out on top of their seventh appearance in the CCHA Semifinals in the last eight seasons with an overtime goal by Greger Hanson to give Northern Michigan the 5–4 OT win.[17] The win was the first time Northern Michigan advanced to the CCHA Championship game since 1999, under Rick Comley.[17] The Wildcats run in the CCHA playoffs ended in the Championship game, when Northern Michigan fell short in a close game to Michigan.[18] The Wildcats' 2–1 loss to the Wolverines did not end their season as NMU received an at-large bid to the 2010 NCAA Men's Division I Ice Hockey Tournament, their first tournament appearance since 1999 and first under Walt Kyle.[2][16] Northern Michigan's first NCAA Tournament berth in 11 seasons took them to the West Regional at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, and first round match-up against St. Cloud State.[19] The Wildcats battled hard in front of a pro-SCSU crowd.[19] Northern Michigan found themselves down early 2–0 in the first period but picked up a late goal by sophomore forward Justin Florek.[20] St. Cloud answered in the second period on the power play but Northern Michigan kept within one goal when senior forward Ray Kaunisto scored late in the period.[20] St. Cloud was held scoreless in the third while Northern Michigan tied the game with an even strength goal under four minutes left in the third period by junior defenseman Erik Spady.[20] The Two team battled hard through the first overtime before St. Cloud State's Tony Mosey scored 23 seconds into the second overtime.[19] Senior goaltender Brian Stewart stopped 50 SCSU shots in the tough loss.[20]

In the summer of 2011, the Big Ten Conference announced intentions to begin sponsoring men's ice hockey in 2013,[21] followed by Miami (OH) announcing the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference for 2013 with and five other schools breaking from the WCHA.[22] The realignment continued on July 20, 2011, when Northern Michigan was approved for membership in the WCHA beginning with the 2013–14 season.[23]

Season-by-season resultsEdit

Note: GP = Games played, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties

Season GP W L T Finish Playoffs
2008–09 41 19 17 5 6th, CCHA Lost in CCHA Semifinals, 1–2 (Notre Dame)
2009–10 41 20 13 8 4th, CCHA Lost in NCAA Regional Semifinals, 3–4 2OT (St. Cloud State)
2010–11 39 15 19 5 6th, CCHA Lost in CCHA First Round, 1–2 (Bowling Green)
2011-12 37 17 14 6 6th, CCHA Lost in CCHA First Round, 1–2 (Bowling Green)
2012-13 38 15 19 4 10th, CCHA Lost in CCHA First Round, 0–2 (Michigan)
2013-14 38 15 21 2 7th, WCHA Lost in WCHA First Round, 0–2 (Minnesota State)
2014-15 38 14 18 6 6th, WCHA Lost in WCHA First Round, 0–2 (Bowling Green)
2015-16 38 15 16 7 5th, WCHA Lost in WCHA First Round, 0–2 (Ferris State)
2016-17 39 13 22 4 8th, WCHA Lost in WCHA First Round, 1–2 (Bemidji State)
2017-18 42 25 15 3 2nd, WCHA Lost in WCHA Championship, 0–2 (Michigan Tech)


The Wildcats are currently coached by Grant Potulny, who assumed coaching duties after Walt Kyle's contract was not renewed in March 2017.[24]

All-time coaching recordsEdit

Tenure Coach Years Record Pct.
2017–Present Grant Potulny 1 25–15–3 .616
2002–2017 Walt Kyle 15 265–243–68 .519
1976–2002 Rick Comley 26 542–435–69 .551
Totals 3 coaches 42 832–692–140 .542


Current rosterEdit

As of January 14, 2019.[25]

No. S/P/C Player Class Pos Height Weight DoB Hometown Previous team NHL rights
2   James Vermeulen Senior D 6' 2" (1.88 m) 198 lb (90 kg) 1996-02-29 Stony Plain, Alberta Whitecourt (AJHL)
3   Robert Fosdick Sophomore D 5' 11" (1.8 m) 175 lb (79 kg) 1996-08-23 Brookfield, Wisconsin Madison (USHL)
4   Connor Frantti Senior D 6' 5" (1.96 m) 225 lb (102 kg) 1994-04-11 Spring Grove, Illinois Lincoln (USHL)
5   Jarrett Lee Freshman F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 172 lb (78 kg) 1999-06-04 Hibbing, Minnesota Minnesota Magicians (NAHL)
6   Rylan Yaremko Junior D 6' 3" (1.91 m) 224 lb (102 kg) 1996-09-15 Spirit River, Alberta West Kelowna (BCHL)
7   Tony Bretzman Senior D 5' 11" (1.8 m) 171 lb (78 kg) 1994-11-10 Mendota Heights, Minnesota Notre Dame (Big Ten)
8   Denver Pierce (C) Senior F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 195 lb (88 kg) 1995-01-20 Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan Soo (NAHL)
9   Troy Loggins Senior F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 168 lb (76 kg) 1995-07-21 Huntington Beach, California Sioux Falls (USHL)
10   Ben Newhouse Junior D 5' 8" (1.73 m) 174 lb (79 kg) 1997-06-16 Edina, Minnesota Union (ECAC)
11   Adam Rockwood (A) Senior F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 182 lb (83 kg) 1995-09-22 Coquitlam, British Columbia Wisconsin (Big Ten)
12   Brett Heikkila Junior F 5' 7" (1.7 m) 170 lb (77 kg) 1995-02-11 Marquette, Michigan Minnesota Wilderness (NAHL)
13   Luke Voltin Junior F 6' 0" (1.83 m) 204 lb (93 kg) 1995-04-13 Blaine, Minnesota Penticton (BCHL)
14   Vincent de Mey Freshman F 6' 1" (1.85 m) 185 lb (84 kg) 1997-11-26 Los Angeles, California Muskegon (USHL)
15   Caleb Schroer Sophomore F 5' 9" (1.75 m) 168 lb (76 kg) 1996-05-07 Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin Coulee Region (NAHL)
16   Griffin Loughran Freshman F 5' 7" (1.7 m) 145 lb (66 kg) 1998-11-13 West Seneca, New York Fargo (USHL)
18   Joseph Nardi Sophomore F 5' 10" (1.78 m) 178 lb (81 kg) 1997-06-01 Edmonton, Alberta Whitecourt (AJHL)
20   Garrett Klee Freshman F 6' 1" (1.85 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1998-04-11 Morrison, Colorado Waterloo (USHL)
21   Matthew Acciaioli Freshman D 5' 9" (1.75 m) 163 lb (74 kg) 1997-04-20 Rochester Hills, Michigan Corpus Christi (NAHL)
23   Mitchel Slattery Sophomore F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 184 lb (83 kg) 1996-04-20 Lino Lakes, Minnesota Minnesota Magicians (NAHL)
25   Philip Beaulieu (A) Junior D 5' 11" (1.8 m) 187 lb (85 kg) 1995-09-02 Duluth, Minnesota Madison (USHL)
26   Ty Readman Freshman F 5' 6" (1.68 m) 160 lb (73 kg) 1998-01-05 Edmonton, Alberta Sherwood Park (AJHL)
27   Adam Roeder Sophomore D 5' 11" (1.8 m) 188 lb (85 kg) 1996-06-11 Ballwin, Missouri Janesville (NAHL)
29   Grant Loven Freshman F 5' 11" (1.8 m) 192 lb (87 kg) 1997-12-21 East Grand Forks, Minnesota Minot (NAHL)
34   Nolan Kent Freshman G 6' 0" (1.83 m) 196 lb (89 kg) 1998-08-12 Chestermere, Alberta Spruce Grove (AJHL)
37   Darien Craighead Junior F 6' 1" (1.85 m) 190 lb (86 kg) 1997-03-07 Surrey, British Columbia Chilliwack (BCHL)
41   Atte Tolvanen Senior G 6' 0" (1.83 m) 187 lb (85 kg) 1994-11-23 Vihti, Finland Minot (NAHL)
44   Ryan Black Senior D 5' 9" (1.75 m) 180 lb (82 kg) 1995-09-03 Stillwater, Minnesota Bonnyville (AJHL)

Notable alumniEdit

Over 170 NMU alumni have gone on to play professionally, including a number of current and former NHL players:[26]

Dual US/French citizen Eric LeMarque went on to play for Team France at the 1994 Winter Olympics, later losing his feet to frostbite in a mishap chronicled in autobiography and in the 2017 film 6 Below: Miracle on the Mountain.


The Wildcats play at the 3,902-seat Berry Events Center on the NMU campus in Marquette, Michigan.[27] The arena has been the home of the Wildcats since 1999, replacing Lakeview Arena which had been the home to NMU hockey since the program began in 1976. The Berry Events Center is one of four Olympic-regulation sized ice surfaces in the WCHA.[28]



The Puckheads are a group of fans of the Wildcats hockey team, made up of students as well as community residents. In the words of a Michigan Daily feature article, "The Puckheads have created an atmosphere that makes the Berry Events Center one of the most entertaining and frustrating road trips for other teams in the CCHA."[29]

The Puckheads were founded in November 1996 at Lakeview Arena. They travel and follow the team on many occasions, and have established rivalries with other teams' fan groups, notably the "Red Army" supporters of the Nebraska–Omaha Mavericks.[30][31]


  1. ^ Northern Michigan University Institutional Brand Standards Guide (PDF). Retrieved April 18, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Northern Michigan Men's Hockey Team History". U.S. College Hockey Online. 1996–2010. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  3. ^ a b c d "Moments In CCHA History". CCHA. 2009. Archived from the original on December 25, 2010. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
  4. ^ "1980 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  5. ^ a b "1981 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  6. ^ "1989 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  7. ^ a b "1991 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  8. ^ "1992 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  9. ^ "1993 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  10. ^ "1999 NCAA Tournament". Inside College Hockey. 2004. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  11. ^ "Walt Kyle: Head Coach, Men's Hockey". Northern Michigan University. 2008. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  12. ^ Weston, Paula C (1996–2010). "2002-03 Northern Michigan Season Preview". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  13. ^ Staff (October 5, 2002). "Northern Michigan Opens With Win Over Michigan Tech". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  14. ^ a b "2002-2003 Statistics Game-by-Game". College Hockey News. 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  15. ^ Jensen, Chris (October 18, 2002). "Scary Return to Marquette for Comley, Spartans". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  16. ^ a b "Northern Michigan Wildcats: 2009-2010 Men's Hockey Schedule/Results". U.S. College Hockey Online. 1996–2010. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  17. ^ a b Denny, John (March 19, 2010). "Hanson's OT Goal Delivers Northern Michigan Long-Sought Spot in CCHA Title Game". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  18. ^ Weston, Paula C (March 20, 2010). "Caporusso Scores 2, Michigan Earns Spot in NCAA with CCHA Final Victory". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  19. ^ a b c Buckentine, Tyler (March 26, 2010). "Mosey's OT Goal Ends St. Cloud State's NCAA Drought". U.S. College Hockey Online. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  20. ^ a b c d "St. Cloud State 4, Northern Michigan 3". U.S. College Hockey Online. March 26, 2010. Retrieved November 14, 2010.
  21. ^ "Big Ten Officially Announces Hockey Conference". College Hockey News. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  22. ^ "Collegiate Hockey Conference Joint Statement". North Dakota Fighting Sioux. Retrieved 2011-07-12.
  23. ^ "Northern Michigan granted full approval to join WCHA in 2013". U.S. College Hockey Online. July 20, 2011. Retrieved July 20, 2011.
  24. ^ "Grant Potulny Announced as Northern Michigan Head Hockey Coach". Northern Michigan Wildcats. 2017-04-17. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  25. ^ "2018–19 Men's Ice Hockey Roster". Northern Michigan University Wildcats. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  26. ^ "Alumni Report". Internet Hockey Database. 2008. Retrieved November 27, 2010.
  27. ^ "Berry Events Center". Retrieved March 24, 2011.
  28. ^ "U.S. Olympic Education Center at Northern Michigan University". United States Olympic Committee. 2009. Retrieved November 13, 2010.
  29. ^ "'Puckheads' add to Icers' challenge", Michigan Daily, November 14, 2005.
  30. ^ Curt Kemp, "Carp-eh Diem? UN-O, NMU rivalry’s special, The Mining Journal, November 20, 2009.
  31. ^ Chad Purcell, "Fish fight: Whopper of a brawl leads to a friendly rivalry", Omaha World-Herald, January 21, 2010.

External linksEdit