Cichy Enjoying New Opportunity
by Taylor Lewis/CHN Reporter
After 581 days, he could play again. Almost two weeks later, he scored his first goal since leaving North Dakota.
“Probably the most difficult was the game weekends, whenever the guys are playing, because you want to be out there,” said Western Michigan forward Mike Cichy, a Connecticut native who started his college career in Grand Forks. “You’ve gone to practice with them, you’ve battled all week, you’re ready to play and then you have to go and sit in the stands even though you’re ready.”
As required by NCAA rules, Cichy could not play during the 2011-12 season after deciding to transfer from North Dakota. And as a result, a long period of almost 600 days passed before Cichy returned to game action.
Nevertheless, considering Cichy’s role in Western Michigan’s success this season, the year off was worth it.
In his two years as a member of the Fighting Sioux, the red-shirt junior had only 11 points in 48 games. As a Bronco, Cichy has been a main contributor on the power play. Five of his eight points have come on the man advantage.
“Every practice was a game for him last year,” said head coach Andy Murray, who though communicating with Cichy daily, left it to the player to prove where he could fit in.
Murray had some expectations, but as Cichy himself knew, “Just because I transferred schools, I wasn’t just going to magically be a better player.”
Cichy got off to a fast start this season, averaging a point per game through October and notching three two-point games by early November. Though he is second on the team in assists, Cichy doesn’t think of himself as a set-up player, and that’s reflected in his team-leading 33 shots.
What the stats do not reflect is Cichy’s ongoing battle to overcome the uncertainty that comes with not playing for 581 days.
“I think a lot of it’s timing,” said Cichy, who admitted to feeling the collective team pressure to exceed last year’s success for Western Michigan. “Confidence is the other thing. You’ve got to always get that back, and there’s maybe a little doubt in your mind about if you still have it.
The junior’s production has slowed since October, with only two points in the last nine games. Despite that, or because of it, Cichy will continue to work for the spot for which he sacrificed a year of his playing career.
“I love it here,” said the one-time member of the U.S. Under-18 team. “It’s what I dreamed of, but I had to put in the work to get here. It wasn’t going to come easy.”