After a long trip to Fairbanks Alaska where the Nanooks (9-9-0) and Huskies (8-7-0) split we find Tech playing their final Alaskan series with a homestand against the University of Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (2-9-3). The Seawolves are coming off of a loss and shootout win against the Ferris State Bulldogs (5-9-1).
The Seawolves have found themselves in the same situation as the Nanooks when it comes to the longevity of their program. However, unlike the Nanooks, the Seawolves find themselves in a sour spot so far this season. They have not found nearly as much success as there northern counterparts. This isn’t to say that they haven’t been playing well, they are performing well in certain areas like power play percentage where a 14.3% (T-45th) is on par with the Huskies 15.9% (T-40th). Sadly, this is where the good news ends and the bad news begins.
The Seawolves are in a hard spot when it comes to offensive production, Nick Wicks (Fr.) is leading the team with 11 points and Tomi Hiekkavirta (Sr.) coming in second with nine points. Unfortunately, the point production drops down from there with Brayden Camrud (Fr.) and Taylor Lantz (Fr.) tied with six points. Tanner Schachle (So.), Jared Nash (So.) and Rylee St. Onge (Fr.) all have five points on the year.
Their blue line is seeing some hard times as well allowing 448 shots on net (19th). Also they have a penalty kill percentage of 76.5% (52nd). This has led to netminders Kris Carlson (Jr. 0-4-2, 2.64 GAA, .914 SV%) and Kristian Stead (So. 2-5-1, 3.95 GAA, .879 SV%) to have their work cut out for them this season. Either could start this coming Friday with Carlson being more likely due to his more favorable numbers.
The Huskies had tough series against the Nanooks, they gave up the lead in the 3rd period in game one while managing to hold a one goal lead in game two. Though not the ideal result Tech did show some potential with regards to scoring with five different players notching a goal on the weekend. Trenton Bliss, Chris Lipe, Keegan Ford, Eric Gotz, and Raymond Brice all scored. Greyson Reitmeier, Parker Saretsky, Colin Swoyer, Tommy Parrottino, Trenton Bliss, Seamus Donohue, and Brian Halonen all managed to pick up assists on the weekend too.
This is a sight for sore eyes after the beginning of the season seemed to show that Tech’s depth scoring was going to be an issue all season long. Now the Huskies look to finally be shaking off their offensive woes while also looking like everything is fitting together. Lastly, we move to the crease and saw Matt Jurusik continue his success in net giving up five goals on 40 shots over the weekend.
With the Seawolves coming to town, I wouldn’t be surprised if Coach Shawhan takes this chance to rest him for the following weekend against #5 ranked Clarkson (10-3-1). In previous press conferences Shawhan has said that he is trying to give Freshman Blake Pietila chances to start in non-stressful environments to give him a chance to adjust to the new level of skill and speed. This weekend looks to be a good opportunity to do just that.
The Huskies currently have a 15.9 PP% (T-40th) and an 86.0 PK% (14th).
Unlike their counterparts in Fairbanks, the Seawolves haven’t been able to put it together this season. Tech should sweep and anything less than a sweep will hurt them in both the WCHA standings, but more importantly the NCAA Pairwise where they are currently 10th in the nation. If they are able to maintain this, they are looking at very good odds at making the National Tournament regardless of how they do in the WCHA playoffs. MTU wins 4-2, MTU wins 3-1.
Keys to the Game
- Desperation. Okay yes the Seawolves are 2-9-3, but that doesn’t excuse the Huskies to go easy. They need to play them like they are 9-2-3, because these Seawolves aren’t gonna just give in and Tech needs all six points this weekend and anything less is unacceptable.
- Special Teams. Tech should have a good chance of scoring on the power play if they are given the chance. That being said they need to make sure the penalty kill doesn’t allow the Seawolves the same result.
- Consistency. The Huskies will need to keep a high quality of play throughout the entire 60 minutes. UAA doesn’t show any pattern of scoring early or late in a game. As a result, Tech’s defense will have to be on their toes all weekend
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions this weekend for this coming series against Alaska-Anchorage and other match ups in the WCHA. Episode Three’s liner notes can be found here.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 will be Saturday at 6:07 Est
*Flohockey.tv is also the source of all games played in WCHA buildings this season so don’t be afraid to sign up for a month or the year for flohockey. Flo Sports now has apps for IOS, Android (with chromecast support), Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.