The Lumberjacks started off the year very hopeful with a lot of new blood pumped into the Hockey program. With so many new players came many new opportunity’s, but also a lot of new challenges. The biggest challenge is finding the right mix of guys to play each game based on your opponents strengths. You also need players to stay consistent and rely on your top players to perform night in and night out. Although the season did not start out as the Lumberjacks planned, there is still a lot of season left, and the Jacks are still battling every game trying to make playoffs.
The season started out with a very entertaining intra-squad game on October 24th. This game provided the coaches an opportunity to see which player work well together and gave them a little insight to how the players would perform this season.
The weekend following Northland faced off against the University of Wisconsin-Superior on Friday and University Of Wisconsin- River Falls on Saturday. The Jacks fought hard on Friday night against Superior but wound up losing a hard fought battle to the Yellow Jackets 3-1. On Saturday Northland had another fast paced hard hitting game against River Falls but were unable to pull out a win losing 5-1.
The Weekend of November 6th and 7th Northland faced off against the 3rd Raked school in the country Adrian College. Northland made the 13 hour trip to Adrian but were unable to pull off the upset against Adrian and dropped both games to the Bulldogs.
The Lumberjacks next traveled to Milwaukee to face off against Milwaukee School of Engineering. Northland dropped the first game to the Raiders 2-0 but the story of the game was freshman goalie AJ Smith (Fr. Southlake, Texas) who recorded 36 saves. On Saturday Northland pulled off their first win of the season with an Overtime game winner netted by Oscar Larsson (Fr. Stromsbro, Sweden), again Smith stood on his head and made an astonishing 47 saves. The weekend earned AJ Smith NCHA Defensive Player of the Week recording 83 saves in 2 games. AJ becomes only the second Lumberjack to earn this NCHA award for Northland College.
The Lumberjacks have a very promising season ahead of them and look forward to facing off against several other top ranked schools this season. With the majority of the lineup still healthy, Northland has a great opportunity to capture their first playoff birth in 3 seasons.