What happened last weekend?
On Friday night, the now-No. 5 Michigan Tech Huskies outshot the visiting Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, 46-19. In doing so, the Huskies managed to find the back of the net twice on goals from sophomore Tyler Heinonen and junior Malcolm Gould. Junior Jamie Phillips made 19 saves to earn his second shutout of the season. On Saturday, the Huskies struck just 3:08 in. The Seawolves played better, but the Huskies came away with a 3-1 victory and the sweep.
The Bemidji State Beavers traveled to face the No. 13 Minnesota State Mavericks last weekend. On Friday, they found themselves down 2-0 just 9:16 in. Matt Prapavessis scored a goal and an assist as the visitors jumped ahead 3-2. However, they would eventually lose, 6-3. On Saturday, the Beavers trailed 3-0 before scoring twice to cut the lead to one. The Mavericks would again pull ahead by three before Nate Arentz cut the lead to two with 10 seconds left. The game would end 5-3 in favor of the hosts.
What made the Anchorage games different?
After two weekends of playing up tempo hockey against the likes of Ferris State and Michigan, the Huskies found themselves in a bit of a tough spot against the Seawolves. On Friday, the Huskies outshot the visitors 18-4 after just 20 minutes and 35-11 after 40. Needless to say, the Seawolves tried to change the momentum through physical play.
On Saturday, their efforts were rewarded as they earned two five-minute major power plays against the Huskies, and they managed to make thing more difficult for the home squad.
“For whatever reason, we started to do some things that we typically don’t,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “We tried to make too many plays in the danger zones, whether it is clearing the puck out or getting it behind them.”
After “schooling” the Wolverines as their head coach Red Berenson put it, the Huskies’ power play was mostly powerless against the physical Seawolves, who clogged lanes and cleared sight lines for their goaltenders.
“Our power play, we continue to need to work on that,” said Pearson. “We were just okay this weekend.”
The emergence of Tyler Heinonen
With a pair of goals over the weekend, Heinonen now has three goals and four points in just four games this season. Last season, he scored just three points in 14 games.
When Heinonen first arrived on campus, he was a puck hawk who loved to get the puck and play with it. What Pearson and his staff have tried to impress upon the sophomore is that same desire to play without it. It has taken awhile for the results to show, but right now, they speak for themselves.
“He’s learned how to play hard and compete hard and play on the right side of the puck and play well defensively,” said Pearson. “Then you are going to get your chances offensively.”
Pearson really likes what Heinonen does when has the puck.
“He can score,” said Pearson. “He can shoot the puck…I am glad to see him playing well. He’s sat out a couple of games and he’s come back and made a difference, regardless of scoring goals.”
How deep are the Huskies?
Eighteen Huskies have scored at least one point. Only two skaters, junior C.J. Eick and freshman Matt Roy, have competed in all eight games have zero points.
Senior Blake Hietala notched two assists against the Wolverines on Saturday night and found himself watching from the stands on Friday against Seawolves. Sophomore Brent Baltus played in both games against the Wolverines and picked up a goal. He did not dress against the Seawolves.
Gould has three goals and seven points over seven games this season, and even he sat out the Saturday game against the Wolverines.
This may be the deepest Huskies’ team in several seasons. The competition in practice has gotten heated as players attempt to do what it takes to crack the lineup.
Scouting the Beavers
At first glance, it is easy to write off the Beavers. They are 3-5-0 overall and just 2-2-0 in WCHA play to this point. However, they have yet to play against a team that is not ranked. This weekend will mark the third time the Beavers have faced a Top-5 squad.
Arentz, a sophomore, leads the team in goals (4) and is tied for the team lead in points (7) with junior Markus Gerbrandt (7).
In a situation rarely seen, the Beavers feature a set of triplets in Myles, Gerry, and Leo Fitzgerald. Myles has four points to lead the trio in points.
A pair of senior rearguards, Prapavessis and Sam Rendle, are well-equipped to push the pace of play. Prapavessis has three goals and six points. Rendle has one goal and five points.
Senior Andrew Walsh, 1-3-0 overall, 3.27 goals against average, 89.7% save percentage, and freshman Michael Blitzer, 2-2-0 overall, 3.02 goals against average, 89.7% save percentage have split time in goal so far.
Game times this weekend are 8:30 p.m. Friday night and 8:00 p.m. Saturday from the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minn.