Welcome back to Tech Hockey Guide’s season preview, in the last edition we covered Forwards today we will be looking at the blue line to see what’s changed and what’s to look forward too.
This year looks to be an exciting endeavor for these Huskies blueliners as all have returned. Last year the Huskies defense was less than ideal, they lacked the experience and stamina to keep up with their opponents. This could be seen through out the season where they would be up to the task one night and then the next night the cracks would start to show and then eventually give way to the offensive flood aimed at Huskies netminders.
Even with its downsides, fans did get to see the Huskies defense grow and adapt to its hardships. Junior Seamus Donohue (pictured left) grew to become a key figure on the Huskies blueline in addition to quarterbacking Tech’s first powerplay unit. Senior Keegan Ford (13 pts) is returning after getting an additional year of eligibility due to a previously redshirted year due to injury. Rounding out the defensive core are Juniors: Tyler Rockwell (9 pts), Cooper Watson (1 pt) and Mitch Meek; in addition to Sophomores: Colin Swoyer (11 pts), Todd Killunen (2 pts), and Tyrell Buckley. Keep an eye out for all these blueliners as they are going to have to fight for a spot in the lineup.
With the new incoming players and returning players there a total of 11 defensemen on the roster. There are a total of two incoming blueliners that follow a noticeable trend: size. We’ll first look at Chris Lipe, he comes in at 6’1’’ and totaled 16 points in 62 games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He is also a former teammate with fellow incoming Husky Logan Pietila and current Husky Brian Halonen. Expect Lipe to fill a more defensive role on the ice similar to Cooper Watson.
Up next is Brenden Datema. He comes in at 6’5’’ and tallied 60 points in 58 games for the Amarillo Bulls (NAHL). Prior to joining the Huskies, he was the 2018-19 NAHL Defenseman of the year leading all other league defensemen in points while leading the Bulls to semifinals of the Robertson Cup. Both players are primed to make a run for one of the spots on the Huskies’ opening weekend lineup adding much-needed size to the blueline.
As for who the top-4 is at the beginning of this season I would anticipate it being Donohue, Ford, Rockwell, and Swoyer. Leaving the biggest question with the final two spots of the line up with six players gunning for a shot to earn it then and then keep it. Look to Meek and Killunen to try and have bounce-back seasons after an underwhelming 2018-2019 campaign. Their biggest competition is surely to be Datema who might take a top-4 role within the first couple of games this season.
Coach Joe Shawhan’s big defense methodology is starting to take shape as the blueliners should have the much-needed experience with a full NCAA season under their belt. It will become apparent quickly whether or not this move away from the high octane offense methodology of former coach Mel Pearson will pay off for the Huskies. One thing is certain though this season is going to show a whole new side to the Tech blueline, whether it is good or bad remains to be seen.
Featured Image courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics
Jonathan graduated from Michigan Tech in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Physics and Social Science in addition to a minor in Social and Behavioral Studies. He spent his college career watching hockey with the Misfits where he became the treasurer in his last year. When not traveling to away games he resides in Hancock working for a local engineering company and keeping up with all things Tech Hockey.