Fresh from a sweep of Northern Michigan—always a joy to the world—the Huskies are heading into the holiday break on a three game winning streak. In addition, they’ve shown they can play very well against top teams, like Minnesota State, but also can play not-so-very-well as they have a couple of times.
But now the abbreviated non-league portion of this pandemic season is all but over, and the all-important WCHA conference games begin. (There will be two non-conference games—tilts against Ferris State and Alabama-Huntsville after break—that will fill in the schedule for the games against the Alaska schools that have been cancelled.)
With no Great Lakes Invitational tournament this year, and perhaps never again, Tech will have 14 games in the final year of the men’s WCHA, ending a very long association with one of the premier conference names in NCAA history. Every game, and every point will matter.
Makin’ a List
Since the Huskies have been mostly-good, here’s a list of things the Old Dog wishes Santa will bring the Huskies this year.
First, I hope Santa will bring Them Dogs some of the latest and greatest shin guards. When looking at the WCHA statistics page, here are some amazing numbers for shot blocking in the conference.
No. 1: Eric Gotz, 16 blocks in 8 games.
No. 2: Brett Thorne, 14 blocks in 8 games.
No. 3: Colin Swoyer, 13 blocks in 8 games.
No 4: Tyrell Buckley (tied), 10 blocks in 7 games
No. 7: Chris Lipe (tied), 8 blocks in 7 games
No. 7: Trenton Bliss (tied), 8 blocks in 8 games.
In fact, Buckley blocked five shots in the second game against Northern this past weekend, and Gotz had three as well. Swoyer had six in the series. That’s a measure of smart positioning, extreme determination and courage. Make sure the Husky defenders have the latest and greatest pads, Santa. They need them.
Second on my list to Santa is for continued success on the penalty kill. Tech is first in the WCHA with a 95% kill rate (only one power play goal allowed in 20 chances, including two major penalty kills). By the way, that’s good for 3rd in the country, too, with only Minnesota (a perfect 17 for 17 kills) and Colgate ahead of the Huskies. But Colgate’s only played one game and killed 2 penalties.
Speaking of continued success, MTU is ninth in the country in team defense, with a goals against per game of 2.12. We want more of that, too Santa. And really, just requesting your help to keep doing what we’ve been doing isn’t much to ask.
How About More Biscuits in the Basket, Santa?
So, what we really need is for the Huskies to get some nice gifts on offense. Them Dogs are averaging just 2.12 goals per game, exactly the same that they’ve yielded on defense. We need a few more players to get their scoring touch in gear, so maybe you could gently pry the monkey off the back of some of our forwards. Logan Pietila and Grayson Reitmeier each have just one assist in eight games, and Parker Saretsky doesn’t have a point yet.
In fact, Tech has just one player (Bliss) in the list of the top fifty players in the country in scoring, and he’s tied for 50th with a 0.875 point per game rate. Of course, when you’re busy blocking shots and backchecking, that might explain some of the lack of scoring.
We know these guys have talent and can score, so maybe you could offer that monkey one or two of the many cookies you find under Christmas trees around the world and he’ll leave. And if you do that, maybe the powerplay will improve from the current 3 of 22 rate, which is 34th in D1.
Besides, it’s too cold in Houghton for a monkey to hang around anyway.
A Few Really Important Wishes
I am also asking you to give coach Joe Shawhan continued good health. After his cardiac episode, which was followed by his ref rant after Friday’s game, we surely hope he doesn’t have any more ticker trouble. And, by the way, if you look at the video of that game and the calls he was mad about, I really don’t think you can put his post-game outburst on the naughty list. Those really were crazy calls by almost any standard.
Speaking of health, I hope you can guard over the Huskies as they go home for the holiday break. With COVID-19 running loose, that’s truly important. Them Dogs saw what influenza can do to a team last year, when the flu bug got loose on the team in early January and it was 4 or 5 weeks before they recovered.
Last but not least, Santa, please give the gift of holiday happiness to the Huskies’ Canadian and Swedish players. Buckley, Logan Ganie, Saretsky, Reitmeier, Arvid Caderoth, Brett Thorne and Mark Sinclair won’t be able to visit their families due to international travel restrictions. With the near magic of the internet, the degree of separation isn’t what it used to be. But it’s still hard for young men to be away from their families for a long spell, and fans like the Old Dog want them to know how much we support them at this time of year.
Oh, what’s that Santa? What does the Old Dog want? Well, I really want an NCAA Championship for the Huskies. But I know that’s too much to ask for; it has to be earned. So, instead, I’ll ask for something simpler but even bigger.
Bring everyone in Husky Nation, and even all of our opponents, even the Wildcats in Marquette, a most Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous 2021.
Mike Anleitner is a 1972 Michigan Tech grad, and he was in the first class of what has become the Scientific & Technical Communications program. He also has an engineering degree from Wayne State and an MBA from Michigan-Ross. He spent forty seven years in various manufacturing and engineering positions, and is currently a semi-retired freelance engineer. He lives during the fall and winter with his wife of 49 years Carol–also a ’72 Tech grad–in Addison, TX, a Dallas suburb with more restaurants per capita than any other municipality in the US. During the summer, Mike and Carol reside in Elmira, MI and avoid the Texas heat.