February 21, 2018 was just another day for most, but for Michigan Tech, it ended up being a pretty big day. Tech Hockey Guide almost missed it because when someone commits our twitter bot trackers notify us a lot about new commitments and it’s not always easy to realize that they aren’t talking about the same person. Thankfully we caught the fact that MTU received two pretty significant commitments. First was Parker Saretsky, an 18 year old forward lighting up the AJHL for the Spruce Grove Saints. Just a couple hours later, Tyrell Buckley, a defenseman for Merritt (BCHL). These two players both appear to have pretty high upside and in the case of Buckley, he’ll be coming in next year, replacing the much discussed Jake Harrison decommitment (via the Joe Shawhan Hour).
Buckley should provide solid coverage for the loss of Dane Birks and Mitch Reinke, both signing NHL contracts despite having college eligibility remaining. The 6′-1″ blueliner finished the regular season top 10 in points and top 4 in goals. To top that off, he tied for the league lead in even strength goals, a pretty good indicator of scoring talent in the BCHL. Removing points on the power play, Buckley ranks eighth scoring 0.42 PPG. Buckley a prototypical late bloomer, being 25 months older than Harrison, he’ll enter MTU as a 21-year-old freshman and until this season, he had not scored more than 19 points in a season. As one of the older players for the Merritt Centennials, the Penticton native continues the trend of Shawhan and company targeting captains. Next year’s freshman class alone will include 2 captains and 3 more alternates (five other committed players wore letters last year or this season). Buckley will likely be expected to jump right into a top-four defenseman role at least until Keegan Ford returns from surgery. Depending on how things go at the beginning, he seems to be slightly behind fellow rookie Colin Swoyer. Along with breakout freshmen Seamus Donohue and Mitch Meek, those four will be expected to play big minutes off the bat. Brother Cooper and Carver Watson will also be in the mix to start regularly at the start of next season with Todd Kiilunen and Tyler Rockwell adding depth.
Parker Saretsky comes from the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). Michigan Tech has not had the best recent luck recruiting in this league with the last two players to commit out of the AJHL (Erik Pederson and Chris Gerrie) leaving the program midseason and many would consider the AJHL a step down from the BCHL but plenty of quality college players have come out of the AJHL, including four freshmen topping at least 17 points last year: Joe Nardi (20 – NMU), Josh McKeshney (17 – Colgate), Oliver Chau (24 – UMass) and Cale Makar (21 – UMass). Many teams have a player or two from the league including many familiar names in the NCHC and WCHA. Saretsky has good numbers (top 20 in scoring) but when you remove all the 20+-year-old players, the 6’0″ forward jumps to second in scoring behind rookie Brock Bremer. The biggest concern for Saretsky from afar is just how much of his scoring is because of his linemates. Chris Van Os-Shaw (51G-46A-97P) and Chase Olsen (28G-33A-61P) are both older and committed to college with Van Os-Shaw headed to UAA and Olsen headed to Merrimack. Van Os-Shaw has almost 20 more points than second place in the league while Olsen also had more goals than Saretsky. With both of his linemates headed to college next year, the 2018-19 season with Spruce Grove will be a huge indicator of just what kind of player the Huskies are getting. Scoring a goal nearly every other game is never easy, and the coaching staff must have seen something in Saretsky that makes them think he has plenty of skill in his own right to offer him a spot on the team. The Saints GM called out the Wainwright, Alberta native for his attention to detail and leadership qualities. After visiting Michigan Tech, Saretsky had nothing but good things to say about MTU:
After going on my fly down to visit the campus in Houghton, Michigan, I quickly realized it was the right fit for both my academic and hockey aspirations. It’s a smaller campus where you get a great deal of one on one attention from your professors which was a huge positive for my family and I. The hockey facility, coaches, support staff and players are all first class. Everything about their program is treated professionally. I am extremely excited to put on the Husky jersey and represent Michigan Tech.
Michigan Tech has done well in recruiting from less common leagues over the last few years, including a pair of players from two other leagues: Greyson Reitmeier, Alex Smith (SJHL) and Tommy Beretta, Mike Neville (OJHL). Only time will tell if they will get a hit on Saretsky in returning to the AJHL where players like Steven Seigo, Malcolm Gwilliam, and Colin Murphy were previously recruited. Beyond that, it will take years to decide just how big a day February 21, 2018 was for the future of MTU hockey. These new players will have big shoes to fill as each class finds a way to improve the program in some way. This year’s seniors became only the third class ever (joining the 1976 and 1977 seniors) to play in three NCAA tournaments. All seven of the defensemen that played even one game for the Huskies as recently as 2016-17 are now gone including three early departures, this is new territory for MTU. The last two seasons, MTU has led the nation in blueline scoring. Buckley will be expected to help the Huskies continue the great tradition that has recently emerged along the blueline and here is hoping Saretsky can come in and be as impactful as Greyson Rietmeier and Justin Misiak, neither of which were expected by many to do anything more than role players, except the MTU coaching staff.
Featured Image courtesy of Dave Ross