MARQUETTE, Mich. -- The start of a new era in collegiate hockey begins in 2021-22 as the Northern Michigan University hockey team joins the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The Wildcats, having previously been members of the storied league, join the newly reformed conference with an exciting home matchup to launch the 2021-22 season, hosting the University of St. Thomas, Oct. 8-9.
In total, the Wildcats will host 22 contests on home ice next season, including one exhibition game, while playing 12 games on the road.
The Wildcats host the Tommies, who are the NCAA Division I hockey's newest addition, in the CCHA's first conference series. The puck is set to drop on the first-ever meeting between the two teams at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8.
NMU then hosts the United States National Team Development Program in an exhibition contest inside the Berry Events Center on Friday, Oct. 15, before returning to NCAA action two days later when the University of Notre Dame travels to Marquette, Oct. 17.
The Wildcats return to conference play the following weekend when they take on Bemidji State University, Oct. 22-23, inside the Berry Events Center. Last season, the Wildcats swept the Beavers on the road with freshman netminder Rico DiMatteo earning all-WCHA rookie of the week honors for his performance in the crease, tallying 47 saves on 50 shots.
The team's first road series of the season comes with a trip to Minnesota State University, Oct. 29-30. The two teams last met in Mankato, Minn., for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association semifinals where the Wildcats advanced to the WCHA championship game following a 5-1 victory over the then No. 3 nationally ranked Mavericks.
The Wildcats return home to host Boston University in a 30th anniversary celebration of the 1991 Championship team, Nov. 5-6. Members of that Wildcat championship team will be in attendance and a brief ceremony honoring their accomplishments will take place prior to puck drop.
The team meets Michigan Technological University, Nov. 12-13, with a home-and-home series. First, the Wildcats travel to the western Upper Peninsula on Friday, Nov. 12, to meet the Huskies, before a return trip to Marquette the next day as the two teams will face off in the Berry Events Center.
Northern continues the month of November with a trip to Ferris State, Nov. 19-20, before spending the Thanksgiving holiday at home against Bowling Green State University, Nov. 26-27.
NMU goes out of conference to open December as it hosts the University of Minnesota Duluth, Dec. 3-4.
The Wildcats conclude the first half of the season with a trip to Lake Superior State University, Dec. 10-11. Last year, the Wildcats and Lakers met five times, including in the WCHA championship game.
NMU opens the new calendar year at home against Colgate University, Jan. 7-8, before hosting MSU - Mankato, Jan. 14-15.
The Wildcats kick off a two-week stand against U.P. foes with the final home-and-home series against MTU, Jan. 21-22. NMU hosts game one of the two-game series before a trip to Houghton the following evening. They then wrap up January with a home series against LSSU Jan. 28-29.
The team then travels to Bemidji, Minn., Feb. 4-5, before its bye week, Feb. 11-12.
The Wildcats return to action with a trip to BGSU, Feb. 18-19, before concluding their season at home against the FSU Bulldogs, Feb. 25-26.
A link to the full schedule can be found here.
After narrowly missing a bid to the NCAA Ice Hockey Tournament last season, the Wildcats look to return 20 skaters and their two leading netminders in Nolan Kent and Rico DiMatteo while adding a strong incoming class to the mix.