MARQUETTE - Looking at Northern Michigan University's statistics leading up to final series of the fall semester, Wildcats head coach Walt Kyle found two surprises.
The first is forwards Matt Thurber, Stephan Vigier and Reed Seckel do not lead NMU in goals after 17 games.
The second is that sophomore forward Ryan Daugherty does lead team in goals.
Northern Michigan University sophomore forward Ryan Daugherty, right, races through the neutral zone past Michigan Tech’s Daniel Holmberg (11) Dec. 4 at the Berry Events Center in Marquette. (Journal photo by Matt Keiser)
It's a good surprise and at the same time, a concerning one.
"To think that (Daugherty) was going to lead us in goal scoring is surprising," Kyle said. "I thought we'd have some other guys. Certainly we thought Thurber and Vigier and Seckel, those guys, would be ahead of him. I give him a lot of credit. He's done a good job."
Daugherty's six goals ranks first among his Wildcat teammates and is tied for eighth in the CCHA heading into this weekend's series against Lake Superior State in Sault Ste. Marie.
OVERALL RECORDS: Alaska 6-8-4, Bowling Green 3-9-4, Ferris State 7-6-3, Lake Superior State 8-10-0, Miami (Ohio) 10-3-3, Michigan 5-8-2, Michigan State 4-10-2, Northern Michigan 6-8-3, Notre Dame 13-4-0, Ohio State 7-5-4, Western Michigan 10-3-1.
The Wildcats and Lakers face off at 7:35 p.m. on Friday and 7:05 p.m. on Saturday at Taffy Abel Arena before embarking on a holiday break and returning to the ice after New Year's Day.
LSSU (8-10-0 overall, 5-7-0 in CCHA, 15 points) with leading scorer Dominic Monardo - six goals and seven assists for 13 points - sits seventh in the CCHA, just two points ahead of eighth-place Michigan and a point back of sixth-place Alaska.
NMU (6-8-3 overall, 2-7-3 in CCHA, 10 points) is in a three-way tie with Bowling Green State and Michigan State in the basement of the league. It's a spot Kyle and his team are not happy to be in.
"To get out of there you have to get points," Kyle said. "We have a saying around here, 'You are your record.' Well where we are, we earned it. Now we have to earn something else."
To earn that something else, the Wildcats need more than Daugherty to start scoring goals.
While the five goals by freshman forward Cohen Adair is a welcome surprise for Kyle like Daugherty's six, the five by Seckel, three by Vigier and one by Thurber are not enough.
More than two goals was also expected out of junior forward Erik Higby heading into 2012-13.
"We have some guys who haven't done what we thought they would offensively to this point." Kyle said. "It doesn't mean they won't. We certainly have some guys we expected more out of the first half of the year."
Kyle said he'd like to see Daugherty double his first-half production, which is quite possible after the Sachse, Texas native proved to be a second-half player last season.
Daugherty only recorded a single point - an assist - in his first 23 collegiate games, but capped his freshman year with three goals and two assists in his final seven games.
In the first seven games of this season, Daugherty tallied four goals now playing on the Wildcats' top line with Vigier.
The sophomore has also found himself on the power play and penalty kill.
"It's nice playing with (Vigier)," Daugherty said. "In the defensive zone, he's always in his spot. he's always moving the puck and we're out. It's pretty easy to score goals when you're in the other team's end and not trying to save them in front of your own net."
Vigier may not be scoring the goals he was expected to at the beginning of the season, but he's tied Thurber as the Wildcats' leading scorer playing with Daugherty via the nine assists he's been credited with.
When approached during the offseason by Kyle as to who the junior center wanted to play with, Vigier said he tabbed Daugherty for his speed and ability to crash the net.
Those attributes are why Vigier isn't as surprised as others with the team-high six goals scored by Daugherty heading into the holidays.
"We think the same way out there," Vigier said about his linemate. "He's pretty creative and he good at finding holes and stuff. I'm happy with finding him because he's scoring goals right now."