2014-15 Overall Record: 14-18-6
2014-15 WCHA Record: 11-13-4 (7th of 10)
Head Coach: Walt Kyle – 14th Season (237-225-57)

Three years removed from their last winning season, Northern Michigan seemed to be headed in the right direction at the start of the the 2014-15 season, going 7-1-1 in their first nine games. The momentum grinded to a halt soon after, largely coinciding with a pair of injuries to starting goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom. Dahlstrom went out for the first time last season before a series against Bemidji State. In the four games without their primary goaltender, the Wildcats – whose record had fallen to 8-4-2 before his injury – went 0-2-2. When he returned, NMU fared little better as they went 1-3-2. Finally, Dahlstom went out for good in January and the team completely collapsed, winning just four more games. With a healthy Dahlstrom returning this season and with a fairly decent freshman backup in Atte Tolvanen, the Wildcats may be able to push to the top five of the WCHA.

Key Returning:

Mathias Dahlstrom, G, Junior
Northern Michigan’s fortunes quickly shifted last season when Matthias Dahlstrom went down with a lower body injury against Alaska-Anchorage. The Wildcats were just 4-11-2 when Dahlstrom was not in the lineup, as opposed to 10-7-4 when he was. Coming off a freshman year in which he finished in the bottom ten in goals allowed (92) and losses (19), Dahlstrom seemed to be growing. His 2.18 GAA and .924 save percentage were not only significant improvements over the prior season – 2.64 and .912 respectively – but he was also backing a team that seemed to be winning. Playing in merely half a season, Dahlstrom managed to pull off four shutouts. However, without Dahlstrom, the wheels fell off the proverbial bus.

Brock Maschmeyer, D, Junior
The first Northern Michigan player honored by the WCHA since the school’s return to the conference in 2013, Maschmeyer was named the All-WCHA Third Team last season on the back of a 19 point season (9 – 10) in which he led the Wildcats in goal-scoring while tying for the WCHA lead among defensemen and finishing fifth in the NCAA among defensemen. In his freshman year, Maschmeyer was also a comparatively prolific goalscorer from the blue line, finishing tied for third among both WCHA defenders and NCAA freshman defenders with 6 goals. Five of those 6 goals came on the power play to lead all WCHA defenders and sixth most among NCAA defenders. In two seasons, Maschmeyer has 34 points (15 – 19), making him one of the most deadly threats in the NCAA from the blue line.

Newcomers:

Ryan Black, D, Stillwater, Minnesota
The Wildcats already have a scoring touch on blueline with Maschmeyer, and have brought in a defenseman in Ryan Black who has a similar pedigree. Black played two seasons in the AJHL with the Bonnyville Pontiacs, being named to the All-Rookie team in 2014 and the All Star team in 2015. In two AJHL seasons, he scored 69 points (15 – 54) in 128 games from the back end. He was the leading scoring defenseman on his team in both seasons while finishing second among AJHL in defenseman in assists.

Connor Frantti, D, Spring Grove, Illinois
Frantti captained the Lincoln Stars during his second of two seasons in the USHL, most of which were spent with the Lincoln Stars. Frantti is the prototypical “big physical defenseman” – he’s a monstrous 6’6” and picked up 274 penalty minutes in just 106 USHL games. He is the cousin of current Wildcat Zach Diamontini.

Mathias Israelsson, G, Kungälv, Sweden
Israelsson has actually already played in Sweden’s Elitserien (now the SHL) and spent time with a professional league in Denmark. Because of this, he is actually ineligible to play in the Wildcats’ first 15 games of the season. A little on the small side at 5’10”, Israelsson made his way up through Frolunda’s junior system – the same that Henrik Lundqvist once played in – culminating with a brief stint with the big club in 2013 where he played 2:21 of “major league” hockey. He was also loaned to the Odense Bulldogs of the Danish Metal Ligaen where he played seven games in Denmark’s top league, finishing with a .922 save percentage, a 2.27 GAA and a shutout. For the 2013-14 season, Israelsson came to North America where he played two seasons in the USHL, splitting time between the Waterloo Black Hawks and the Fargo Force. His USHL record, however, was a less than spectacular – 32-32-5 with a 3.03 GAA and a .909 save percentage. With five goaltenders on the roster, he will likely see very little action over the next couple of seasons.

Brendan Jacques, F, Calumet, Michigan
Jacques committed to the Wildcats three years ago after his high school career at Calumet High, where he scored 49 points (23 – 26) in 26 games as a senior and 50 points (17 – 33) in 20 games as a junior. Obviously, NMU recruited the 5’10” forward with the hopes that he would provide the team with some firepower. However, Jacques spent the last two seasons developing with the Springfield Jr. Blues of the NAHL and the results were less than stunning – 24 points (10 – 14) in 99 games. Kyle certainly will hope that his staff can find a useful role for a player who looked very promising when he was recruited.

Jesse Junttila, D, Marquette, Michigan
At 5’9”, Junttila is practically tiny for a defenseman. He played three seasons in the NAHL, each with a different team – in 2012-13 with the Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings, in 2013-14 with the Janesville Jets, and in 2014-15 with the Odessa Jackalopes. Not a scoring defenseman, Junttila only picked up 15 points (3 – 12) in 110 NAHL games. Definitely a depth recruit, Junttila has four seasons ahead of him to work his way into a solid role.

Troy Loggins, F, Huntington Beach, California
Prior to joining the Wildcats this coming season, Loggins played a season in the NAHL with the Wenatchee Wild before moving up last season to the USHL with the Sioux Falls Stampede. In his one NAHL season, Loggins scored 57 points (25 – 32) in 70 games while earning Second Team All-Rookie honors. Last season, Loggins helped the Stampede to the USHL title, scoring 35 points (14 – 21) in the regular season before picking it up in the playoffs scoring 16 points (10 – 6) in 12 games to lead the league in playoff goals and points. Due to this, Loggins was selected the USHL playoff MVP and comes to NMU off of that remarkable performance with a career that so far shows an ability to improve at each level. Kyle plans to give Loggins action almost immediately so he could become one of the WCHA’s top freshmen.

Anthony Paskaruk, C, Airdrie, Alberta
Originally committed to Clarkson, Paskaruk spent an enormous amount of time – 367 games – with the Brooks Bandits of the AJHL. It was enough in 2014 to earn him the AJHL’s Most Dedicated Player award. In his five seasons with the Bandits, Paskaruk scored 236 points (84 – 152), leading his team to the RBC Cup title in 2013. With a reputation as a hard-working player, Paskaruk should fit in well in the WCHA.

Denver Pierce, C, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan
Pierce has never strayed too far from home, playing his junior hockey with the NAHL’s Soo Eagles in Sault Ste. Marie. In 159 NAHL games, Pierce managed 65 points (25 – 40). Described as “gritty”, Pierce racked up 99 penalty minutes in his last season with the Eagles and should eventually be a third or fourth line center with with the Wildcats.

Atte Tolvanen, G, Vihti, Finland
After a highly successful junior career with Ässät in Finland, Tolvanen was actually called up to the Liiga in 2013 but never saw any action. Expected to back up Dahlstrom this season, Tolvanen developed into one of the best goaltenders in the NAHL over the past two seasons. With the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL in 2013-14, Tolvanen had a less than stellar 2.78 GAA, but did faced the fifth most shots and finished the year with a .919 save percentage. Last season, with the Minot Minotauros, Tolvanen finished third in the NAHL with a 1.94 GAA while playing the second most minutes of any goaltender and finishing with a 26-13-5 record with 6 shutouts. He should eventually compete with Dahlstrom for starts.

James Vermeulen, D, Spruce Grove, Alberta
A Leap Day baby, Vermeulen will be celebrating his 5th birthday next season. While he lacks offensive prowess, Vermuelen is apparently a very strong defenseman. In 119 AJHL games with the Whitecourt Wolverines and Spruce Grove Saints, he scored 16 points (2 – 14), but also had 189 penalty minutes. Last season, Vermeulen – along with fellow recruit Ryan Black – was a finalist for the AJHL’s best defenseman.

Schedule

Tuesday, December 29Michigan (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)

Date Opponent
Friday, October 9 @ Wisconsin
Saturday, October 10 @ Wisconsin
Friday, October 16 Lake Superior State
Saturday, October 17 Lake Superior State
Friday, October 23 Michigan Tech *
Saturday, October 24 @ Michigan Tech*
Friday, October 30 Bemidji State*
Saturday, October 31 Bemidji State*
Friday, November 6 @ Alaska*
Saturday, November 7 @ Alaska*
Friday, November 20 Minnesota State*
Saturday, November 21 Minnesota State*
Friday, November 27 @ Bowling Green*
Saturday, November 28 @ Bowling Green*
Friday, December 4 @ Alabama-Huntsville*
Saturday, December 5 @ Alabama-Huntsville*
Friday, December 11 Ferris State*
Saturday, December 12 Ferris State*
Wednesday, December 30 Michigan State/Michigan Tech (Great Lakes Invitational, Detroit)
Friday, January 8 @ Minnesota State*
Saturday, January 9 @ Minnesota State*
Friday, January 15 Alaska*
Saturday, January 16 Alaska*
Friday, January 29 Minnesota-Duluth
Saturday, January 30 Minnesota-Duluth
Friday, February 5 Alaska-Anchorage*
Saturday, February 6 Alaska-Anchorage*
Friday, February 12 @ Ferris State*
Saturday, February 13 @ Ferris State*
Friday, February 19 Alabama-Huntsville*
Saturday, February 20 Alabama-Huntsville*
Friday, February 26 @ Lake Superior State*
Saturday February 27 @ Lake Superior State*
Friday, March 4 @ Michigan Tech*
Saturday, March 5 Michigan Tech*

*WCHA Conference Game