After the Huskies were able to surprise fans with a split against Bowling Green (15-5-3), they now find themselves in northern Minnesota for series two against the Bemidji State Beavers (10-11-3). The Beavers have been struggling as of late, only able to manage splits with four of their past five opponents—the exception being at Air Force (11-8-3), where they lost and tied.

Analysis

The Beavers have been having a rough time since their series with Tech. They have lost games to three out of the four bottom teams: Alabama-Huntsville (4-19-1), Alaska Anchorage (2-19-1) and Alaska Fairbanks (5-15-2). Goaltenders Zach Driscoll (5-5-1, 2.19 GAA, .912 SV%) and Henry Johnson  (5-5-2, 2.05 GAA, .914 SV%) have been playing above-average hockey, but have failed to gain any offensive help. The Beavers have 2.46 goals per game (up from 2.33 when Tech last saw them) with a PP% of 15.1% (49th) and a PK% of 83.9 (18th)—up from 15.0% and 79.5% respectively. An interesting pattern that has also arisen is that the Beavers will take game one, but then drop game two (again, with the only exception being the series against Air Force). If one thing can be said for sure, it is that this Beavers team is struggling and Tech needs to take advantage of this.

The Huskies split with Bowling Green, where goaltender Robbie Beydoun recorded his and the team’s first shutout of the season. Tech looked to be up to par throughout the weekend, almost tying game two if not for a late power play goal by the Falcons. The Huskies defense has seemingly turned the corner from their penalty kill woes only allowing one goal on seven tries. However, the Huskies’ offense hasn’t been able to sustain the offensive production they saw earlier in the season averaging two goals a game over their last ten games while allowing an average of 2.7 goals per game.

Keys to the Game

  1. Bundle up. Game one will be an outdoor game on Lake Bemidji. The Huskies, and anyone attending the game, should dress appropriately for a forecast high of -22 F (-30 C). (Frostbite can happen between 5-30 mins depending on the wind speed at this temp.)
  2. Play hard.  Hockey Day Minnesota is very popular throughout the state, and draws a lot of media attention. The Beavers are most likely going to be treating this like a playoff series with even more at stake. Tech will have to be up to the task.
  3. Play Smart. These past couples of series have seen the Huskies take bad penalties. If they want a chance to pull out a win or even a sweep, then they will have to be more disciplined.

My Prediction

The Beavers are going to be hungry to win on such an important day for all living in the state of Minnesota. Looking at their last few series they are the favorites on game one of the series. That being said, the Huskies’ last outdoor game was in December 2013 during the GLI at Comerica Park, so no players have outdoor experience. This makes everything level when it comes to hockey on the lake. The Beavers will take game one in front of dedicated Minnesota and Tech hockey fans, while the Huskies take game two back indoors. BSU wins 3-1, MTU wins 4-2.

How to Watch

Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv (paywall) and Fox Sports North (Game one only) for video.  

Cover image courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics.