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Potulny named head coach at Northern Michigan

One by one, people marched to the podium Tuesday morning in Marquette, Mich., to speak. The big production was understandable--it was a rare event for Northern Michigan University. The Wildcats, who have had just two head coaches in the past 41 y...

One by one, people marched to the podium Tuesday morning in Marquette, Mich., to speak.

The big production was understandable-it was a rare event for Northern Michigan University.

The Wildcats, who have had just two head coaches in the past 41 years, named Grand Forks native Grant Potulny its third head coach of all time.

It is the first head coaching job for Potulny, who spent the past eight years as an assistant coach at the University of Minnesota.

Potulny, of Grand Forks Red River, replaces Walt Kyle, who was ousted this spring after 15 years at the helm.

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Prior to Kyle, Rick Comley served as head coach for 26 years, bringing the 1991 NCAA national championship to Marquette.

"I understand the rich history of the two coaches who have coached here before me and all the success they have had," Potulny said. "We will build on that."

Potulny said he plans to recruit with the same philosophy he had at Minnesota-getting speedy players who excel on the big, Olympic ice sheet.

Northern Michigan's home, the Berry Events Center, features a 200-by-100 foot rink, just like Mariucci Arena in Minneapolis.

NHL sheets, like Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks, is 200-by-85.

Northern Michigan went 13-22-4 last season-its fifth straight season with a sub-.500 record.

The Wildcats, members of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, have made the NCAA tournament just once since 1999 (in 2010).

Potulny helped the Gophers win six consecutive regular-season conference titles at Minnesota.

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"I can't wait to get started," Potulny said.

Johnson makes USA Today team

Grand Forks Central senior Grant Johnson was named to USA Today's All-Boys Hockey second team Tuesday.

USA Today wrote: "Johnson recorded 29 goals and 56 assists for North Dakota's unbeaten state champions. The MVP of the state tournament, Johnson had a goal and assist in the Knights' 7-2 win over Bismarck High in the state title game. In his 79-game varsity career, Johnson tallied 76 goals and 126 assists."

Johnson, who played for the Bismarck Bobcats at the end of the high school season, has not yet committed to an NCAA team.

UND commit Gavin Hain, a junior at Grand Rapids (Minn.) High School, was named to USA Today's All-Boys Hockey first team.

Hain led Grand Rapids to a Minnesota state title.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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