With the coming of the month of February comes one of a beloved Michigan Tech tradition: Winter Carnival. This year’s carnival sees the Michigan Tech Huskies (15-13-3) face off against the Lake Superior State Lakers (8-19-3). The Huskies are coming off another disappointing weekend after splitting with the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (2-20-4), giving them just their second win of the season. Meanwhile, the Lakers played a one game series against the US Under-18 team which saw them tie by a score of 4-4.

Analysis

Since their last meeting in November, the Lakers have continued to see their fair share of troubles, going 4-9-4. During this 17 game period they have managed to score 27 goals while giving up 44. The biggest thing to note from these past games is that they have been shut out six times by five different teams, ranging from the likes of Minnesota State (24-4-2) to Alaska-Anchorage (4-16-6). 

The Lakers aren’t scoring much. They only averaged 1.6 goals per game over this stretch (the Huskies have averaged 2.45 goals since 11-16-19). As far as scoring goes, the same set of players covered in the last series are still atop the leaderboards with Max Humitz (Sr. F, 24 pts), Hampus Eriksson (Jr. F, 19 pts), Louis Boudon (Fr. F, 18 pts), Pierre-Luc Veillette (So. F, 17 pts) and Ashton Calder (So. F, 16 pts). This top five looks to be what keeps the Lakers competitive as point totals drop very quickly. 

The astute reader might have noticed there are no defensemen in that group of players. This is because the Lakers’ defensemen look to be poor to non-existent from an offensive perspective. The scoring is now led by Lukas Kaelble (Jr. D, 10 pts) and Jacob Nordqvist (So. D, 7 pts), with the notable exclusion being Collin Saccoman (Sr. D, 9 pts) due to him not playing a game since 11-27-19 for presumably accumulating 19 PIMs over the course of two games. 

Since we last looked at the Lakers’ goaltending not much has changed. Junior Mareks Mitens (8-17-3, 2.77 GAA, .901 SV%) had played all 17 games for the Lakers while improving his overall numbers despite what their record says. While the team in front of him might not be helping him much at all, Mitens looks like the next candidate for the Huskies to give the WCHA Goaltender of the Week award to. Look for him to either steal a game or come close. 

Over the last four weeks the Huskies have struggled big time trying to win games. What looked to be a sealed deal has been fleshed out to be a trap. The Huskies are not able to score and that is the reality that we as fans need to accept and we should lower our expectations accordingly. Sadly, even though we (the fans) may throw our complaints out, they fall on deaf ears as Coach Shawhan said he doesn’t sense any negativity while also not paying any attention to criticism whether it be from the fans or the media. Alas all we should expect from these Huskies is for a possible third-period comeback chance and that is about it. 

The Huskies dropped game two to the Chargers. This game saw 20 penalties called in addition to several missed opportunities by Tech allowing Mark Sinclair to have his best game of this season, allowing only 1 goal on 30 shots. The biggest blunder was a breakaway by Alex Smith during which he neither shot the puck nor passed it. Instead he appeared to have fumbled it while over-thinking what to do. This mentally continued throughout the game resulting in Tech breaking down and not being able to score. 

Matt Jurusik started both games. He played well, allowing 3 goals on 37 shots on the weekend. Getting points for the Huskies were Raymond Brice (1G), Parker Saretsky (1G), Brian Halonen (1G), Logan Pietila (1G), Tommy Parrottino (1G, 2A), Tyler Rockwell (2A), Justin Misiak (2A), Eric Gotz (2A), Trenton Bliss (1A) and Colin Swoyer (1A).

Keys to the Game

  1. Puck Control. This should be an easier defensive series. If Tech can manage to get a few goals it should be smooth sailing.
  2. Special Teams. It appears like either Tech isn’t practicing special teams or opponents just have them figured out. Either way, the Lakers should be a confidence builder as they only have a 9.6 PP% (57th) and a 78.9 PK% (44th).
  3. Avoid the Point. This previous weekend, Tech took too many shots into traffic from the point. This led to many attempts being blocked or sailing off net. The Huskies need to try to crash the net more, forcing Mitens to make some harder saves.

My Prediction

The Lakers look to be on an upswing when it comes to scoring goals, so lets hope that ends this weekend. Given that it is Winter Carnival weekend, I expect a little more energy from Tech which is what they desperately need right now. MTU wins 2-0, MTU wins 2-1.

The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against LSSU. Episode Eleven’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 8:07 Est and game 2 will be Saturday at 8:07 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. Flo Sports now has apps for iOS, Android (with Chromecast support), Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.