Northern captains clockwise from top left: Contois, Bateman, Waugh, Oystrick (C)
2005-2006 Northern Michigan Season Preview
by Brandon Craig
Hockey is back. With the NHL now in full swing again, it's time to get back to college hockey--Wildcat style. Coach Walt Kyle's Northern Michigan University Wildcats will open the season with a pair of exhibition games this weekend in Marquette to kick off the 2005-06 season.
Northern will return to the college hockey scene a strong nucleus of players, both returners and newcomers and will be force to reckon with in the CCHA as well as other leagues. NMU has been picked to finish 3rd in both the CCHA pre-season media poll and the pre-season coaches poll, even garnering a 1st place vote in the former. NMU even has been picked 12th overall in the USCHO national pre-season poll.
The Wildcats return stand out forwards Darin Olver, Andrew Contois, Pat Bateman, Mike Santorelli and Dirk Southern and defensively Nathan Oystrick, Geoff Waugh and Zach Tarkir to name a few. Coach Kyle has named D Nathan Oystrick team captain for the second straight year. Geoff Waugh, Pat Bateman and Andrew Contois will be co-captains.
The biggest question mark remains in net. With the departure of Finnish sensation Tuomas Tarkki, a finalist for last year's Hobey Baker award, the time will most likely be split between top starter Bill Zaniboni (now in his second year) and newcomer Derek Janzen, said to be one of the top 5 incoming freshmen icers in the nation.
At this year's CCHA pre-season media day in Detroit, coach Kyle had good things to say about this years Wildcat Hockey squad.
“We’re real excited in Marquette for the season to begin,” said Kyle. “I think that we feel that we had a good run the last half of last year, and really made some strides in becoming the type of team that we want to become.”
A new face behind the bench this year will be John Olver, recently named assistant coach of the Wildcats after the departure of Dave Schyiak, who left Marquette to take the head coaching reigns at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Olver is the father of NMU center Darin Olver and will work with forwards. Olver comes from the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL where he not only was bench boss but also team vice president. In 2004, the Steelheads took the Kelly Cup championship for that league under his leadership.
This season will prove to be an exciting one in Marquette as well as on the road to Joe Louis Arena next March.
The Wildcats start their season with the US National Under 18 team coming to town on October 7 followed by York University (Toronto , Ont.) on October 8. NMU will start the regular season October 14-15 in Marquette playing host to St. Cloud State. Northern will open league play October 28-29 with a home and home series against U.P. league rival Lake Superior State.
G Tuomas Tarkki
F Kevin Gardner
F Alan Swanson
G Derek Jansen
D Derek May
F Nathan Sigmund
D Spencer Dillon
F Nick Sirota