Northern Michigan University Men’s Ice Hockey (25-14-3, 19-7-2-2 WCHA) earned a pair of postseason awards Tuesday afternoon from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Junior goaltender Atte Tolvanen (Vihti, Finland) was named the WCHA Goaltender of the Year, while head coach Grant Potulny was unanimously named league Coach of the Year for the 2017-18 season.
Tolvanen is the second student-athlete in program history to earn Goaltender of the Year honors with the first being Tuomas Tarkki in 2005 when the Wildcats were in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association. The junior earned the awards after earning a 19-7-1 mark during the regular season despite missing six games due to injury.
Now sitting at 23-9-1 for the season, he is currently tied for the fifth-most wins for a single campaign in program history. His 2.25 goals against average this year is also the fifth best in Wildcats history. Both stats helped Tolvanen earn First-Team All-WCHA a week ago for the first time in his career.
In his first season at the helm of the Wildcats, Potulny guided the team to a 21-12-3 mark during the regular season with a 19-7-2-2 record in WCHA action. It is the fifth time in Wildcat hockey history that the head coach has earned league coach of the year honors as Rick Comley did so four times, twice in the WCHA and twice in the CCHA.
Potulny came to Marquette, Michigan after eight seasons as an assistant at his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. In his first season, the Wildcats earned 20 wins for the first time since the 2009-10. Including postseason play, the Wildcats have won 25 games for the first time since the 2001-02 season. NMU was predicted to finish seventh in both the Mankato Free Press Coaches’ Poll and the UAHHockey.com Preseason Coaches’ Poll, but earned the second seed in the WCHA Playoffs.
NMU will continue their season this weekend in the Berry Events Center against Michigan Technological University. Saturday’s WCHA Championships will be a 7 p.m. puck drop in the Berry Events Center. It will be a one game championship with the winner earning an automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. The contest will also mark the first post season game between the two programs since the 1994 WCHA quarterfinals in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which the Wildcats lost, 5-1.