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CCHA Championship Game Preview : College Hockey News

Not Enough : College Hockey News

March 16, 2023

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by Ryan Sikes/CHN Reporter (@ryan_sikes10)

The CCHA Mason Cup Finals is shaping up to be a real “David versus Goliath” matchup. 

On one side, we have Northern Michigan

One of the hottest teams in the country right now, the Wildcats have won seven consecutive games and nine out of their last 10 going into Saturday’s showdown with Minnesota State. In that seven-game span, NMU has scored 38 goals.

In the semifinals, Grant Potulny’s squad shut out Michigan Tech 4-0 on the road, a venue the Wildcats were outscored 6-1 in two regular-season games. Behind a huge night from freshman netminder Beni Halasz, who matched a career-best 44 saves, Northern Michigan prevailed.

“He’s not giving up a lot of rebounds right now, so there’s not a lot of second-chance opportunities,” Potulny said of Halasz. “He gives the guys confidence that if something does happen, we have somebody there that’s got it covered.”

The team has been led by senior forward Andre Ghantous, who collected two points (one goal, one assist) in the semifinal game against Tech and has 13 points during the team’s seven-game heater.

Saturday’s game marks the third time Northern Michigan has appeared in the Mason Cup Final in the last six years. But it’s still looking for their first win.

Northern Michigan now shifts its attention to Minnesota State, a team it dropped three of four against in the regular season. Its only win came in November, 3-2 in overtime, with senior forward AJ Vanderbeck scoring the final two goals for Northern.

The Wildcats’ penalty kill has killed off at 85.5 percent, good for fifth-best in the country. Conversely, the Mavericks have the nation’s best power-play unit (28.9%), converting on 10 of their last 17 chances.

Potulny knows they’ll have their hands full.

“We gotta stay out of the box; that’s the number one thing. You can’t go into a game, take a bunch of penalties, and expect to win,” he said. “We gotta have great discipline, and if we do (take a penalty), we have to be dialed into what we do.”

“We’ll have a plan. Obviously, there’s things that happen in your plan that you gotta adjust on the fly. Going into it, you think you want to try to deny some of these things, but then other things open up. So, we’re going to have to adjust on the fly.”

Minnesota State goes into this game…

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