Season 2 Episode 10 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “Cats and Dogs” This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindtrom and Rob Gilreath were joined by Shane “Puckato” Frederick of Puckato.blogspot.com with Minnesota State on the horizon. We took the time to discuss (times are approximate):
UAH Series (4:32)
Mankato’s season (14:48)
Joe Shawhan Hour (26:41)
St. Thomas Hockey (41:59)
FloHockey Positivity (48:32)
MTU Jerseys (52:40)
MSU Series (59:34)
BSU vs BGSU (67:33)
UAH vs MTU Friday, January 2, 2021
UAH vs MTU Saturday, January 3, 2021
The Huskies pretty much took care of business the way we knew they would. Friday’s game was about as low-stress a hockey game as Michigan Tech has had in years, and the goals were fun to watch. Tech improved their power play percentage and beefed up their incredible PK numbers. On Saturday, all of the scoring was done in the first, and the Huskies never seemed to put on the pressure they showed that they could on Friday. The Chargers ultimately didn’t have the offensive answers to take down the Huskies, but the second two periods seemed so passive that we almost completely missed the debut of new Husky Tristan Ashbrook.
This was the type of weekend where we hope that Tech learned to put teams away rather than let them hang around the whole game and cause unnecessary anxiety for the players, coaching staff and fans. The fact that this game didn’t get turned into a loss is definitely a positive, as Tech fans have grown used to dropping a game like this.
Many Tech fans were concerned about the chance to give the net to Mark Sinclair in the second game. This isn’t to dog on Sinclair, who has has proven over his collegiate career that he’s a more than competent goaltender. On the other hand, however, Pietila is clearly the hotter goaltender, he’s the one that keeps getting showered with weekly and monthly honors, and the team seems to be playing better in front of him for whatever reason. The explanation Shawhan offered is that it’s important to keep both goaltenders warm. Especially in a season where nothing is guaranteed, especially not whether or not a player will be able to play from one weekend to the next, it seemed opportune to give Sinclair a shot to play against his former team. With all due respect to Huntsville, we more or less knew that we were going to come away with a win, so we may as well rest the hot goaltender and give Sinclair the minutes to stay warm to have another goaltender that is proven to be capable and dependable.
Minnesota State is currently 5-1-1 with their only loss up to this point coming against Michigan Tech. They come into this weekend off of a dominant weekend against our friends the Wildcats of Northern Michigan, outscoring them 9-0 in the series. They’ve had a very respectable start to the season to say the least. Guest Shane Fredrick offers his expertise on the opponent during this segment. Fredrick was anticipating this season to have a few more bumps in transition at this point in the season, but thus far the Mavericks have risen to the occasion. To call Dryden McKay a steady force in net would be severe understatement as he enters his third year of play for the Mavericks of Minnesota State. He isn’t at all shocked that they’re a decent team, but he is a little surprised to see them rolling to this extent, especially with covid shuffling so many rosters.
FINAL | Dryden McKay had 21 saves for 18th career shutout (t-7th in NCAA history) and FR D Akito Hirose w/G & A as #5 Minnesota State prevails by a 4-0 margin in a road @WCHA_MHockey game at Northern Michigan Sunday pic.twitter.com/kNoh4gcStg— Minnesota State Hockey (@MavHockey) January 3, 2021
Akito Hirose, brother of former Michigan State Spartan Taro Hirose, has proven to be a big time force as well. He’s been fitting into the squad very well, playing some big minutes when it matters, and is currently posting a 35% shooting percentage. That’s a “video game number” to say the LEAST.
January 4, 2021
For as many seniors as Mankato lost, they’re still a more veteran-forward team that has proven they can put the puck in the net. They always seem to find the right guys to get it done, which is the sign of a great program. They never rebuild, they always reload. The Mavericks remain the king of this conference until somebody truly rises up, pushes them down, and says otherwise. Time will tell if this will happen in the transition to the CCHA, but it doesn’t appear to be on the horizon any time soon.
Shane also takes some time to share in our heartbreak that last year’s playoffs got cut short. The Huskies series against the Mavericks was slated to be one of the best matchups of the playoffs, as it always seems to be.
Joe Shawhan Hour
This week saw the return of our favorite Joe Shawhan analogy, the “Cats and Dogs” analogy. For those that have never heard it, basically, defense is like the team’s dog. It’s always there for you, it’s your best friend, it’ll always come when it’s called, etc. Your offense, however, is your cat. It only shows up when it feels like it. This week, he says that the good teams try to turn their cats into dogs.
Joe also offered some interesting information about the transfer portal, especially as it pertains to this season and Tech’s acquisition of Ashbrook. This season is unique in the fact that teams that are still playing basically have their pick of kids that are already playing for other schools, which is something that ordinarily doesn’t happen. The NCAA is essentially completely house-developed talent so this season essentially creating a free-agency market has been interesting to watch unfold.
There has been some talk about how some students enter the portal being all but committed to another school. This shouldn’t be happening, as per NCAA rules, you shouldn’t be able to talk to another school until you’re in the portal. Basically, coaches are hoping they never see a season like this ever again. It may create an environment where kids play for a school for one year, then immediately transfer to one of the top programs, tanking smaller schools that have invested in that student, as well as college hockey more broadly parity irreparably.
Overall, we agree with the rule changes for eligibility for this year, but don’t want to see a “college free agency” system like this ever again.
Because of this weird year, paired with the fact that this year doesn’t count against eligibility for any players, St. Thomas may just be entering DI college hockey at just the right time. Out of the gate, they should have a very solid chance to load up their roster with some respectable recruits and transfers to build up a veteran program from day one. The only knock against them is the fact that they don’t have an official rink right away, but that should be sorted out right away. Shane is a St. Thomas grad, so he’s excited to have his alma mater picking up a hockey program. Aside from that, he has no real inside information.
It will also be interesting to see what they do in the way of getting a head coach. The position should be rather appealing, being right in the middle of the Twin Cities with a program committed to growth and development at the Division I level. Whoever they get will probably be a highly qualified individual.
This weekend, St Thomas’s club team won a game where they had 82 penalty minutes. This is not the NCAA DIII team that is getting promoted to DI; this is essentially St. Thomas’s version of the Wolfpack. But, it’s a fun stat nonetheless.
We finally have a positive thing to say about Flo Hockey! Flo has finally added pausing, rewinding, and fast forwarding on their service. It’s a small step in the right direction, but we’re not afraid to give credit where credit is due.
There are still some stop-start issues depending on the platform you’re watching on. Hopefully this can be worked out soon.
We finally got to see the 100th season jerseys! It seemed to make sense to use them for the first name of the new calendar year. The reasoning is that hockey during that time wasn’t ordinarily played until January, but had this been an ordinary year, we have no doubt that they would’ve been busted out for the originally scheduled home opener against Michigan. Because they were finally used and people asked even more questions about where to buy them, we here at Tech Hockey Guide have gotten even more interest in the jersey order. There are over 270 people looking to buy that jersey. We are hoping to have all of the kinks in the jersey order ironed out by the end of January. A blank jersey is currently slated to go for about $180, with an additional $75 for customization. Bear in mind, these prices are not final and may or may not include taxes. If you haven’t signed up yet and still want one, you can still sign up here **INSERT LINK**. We’re definitely doing the 100th season order, and we are also very close on an order of gold jerseys.
First game of 2021 and we’re pulling out the 100 year jerseys #mtuhky @Buccigross @TeamECH pic.twitter.com/urDfJgoAnW— MTU Hockey Equipment (@MTUEquip) January 2, 2021
Our question this week pertained to when we will know the NCAA tournament format. Currently the best answer we have is that we hope that it’s ironed out by the time conference tournaments finish up. With how weird this season has been, coupled with the unorthodox ways other sports have been handing their championships, there just seems to be too much in the air to give a definitive answer.
The usual suspects, with guest Shane, offer their predictions for the weekend. With two of the league’s top dogs going at it, anything can happen. We also have Minnesota State’s #1 power play and Michigan Tech’s #2 penalty kill going at it this week. Be sure to tune in this week to hear what the guys predict for this weekend’s results!
BSU vs. BGSU
The final topic of discussion this week is the coming weekend’s series between the Beavers and the Falcons. BSU and BGSU should be the other teams that are thorns in the sides of both the Huskies and the Mavericks for the league’s top spots. This will be a great series to watch as well, and a great one to keep your eye on.
GAMEDAY!— Bowling Green Hockey (@BGFalconHockey) January 7, 2021
?Bowling Green, Ohio (@SlaterIceArena)
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Matt Cavender graduated from Tech in 2018 and is a former President of Mitch's Misfits, serving two terms. Matt serves on the Tech Hockey Guide staff as Editor in Chief. He currently works as a Digital Marketing Specialist in Grand Rapids, MI