After a long-fought series against the Northern Michigan Wildcats (2-2-0), the Michigan Tech Huskies (4-3-1) found themselves off for the week of Christmas and are now back on the ice this weekend for the first week of conference play against the Alabama-Huntsville Charges (0-3-1).
After a particularly rough off season which saw the Chargers lose their program, a rally from hockey fans across the US and Canada donating money successfully saved the Chargers in the span of a few weeks. Now in the aftermath, UAH finds itself as the lone team out in this final season of WCHA play, being the only team not part of the upcoming CCHA. In addition, the chargers have gone through the gamut of both roster and personnel changes with a head coach in his first season at the helm. The Chargers have also lost 12 players to graduation or transfers. To get everyone up to speed I have created a table listing the players:
They lost a total of 85 points for ~ 54% of their total offensive production from last season. Needless to say, if the there exists a team in the process of a rebuild in college hockey, the Chargers definitely find themselves in that position currently. Not all aspects of this team are bleak, several players have stepped up to the plate with forwards Tyrone Bronte (Fr.), Tyr Thompson (Jr.), Bauer Neudecker (Jr.), and Quinn Green (Fr.) averaging .75 to 1 point per game so far this season. Finally, Sophomore David Fessenden (0-0-1, 1.14 GAA, .957 SV%) as appeared to be a diamond in the rough when it comes to in net. He has the best performance by far and looks to be the defacto starter. lol
Looking to the Home team, the Huskies look to open up conference play building off of their sweep of NMU, hopefully with less controversial calls from WCHA officials and comments from MTU coaching staff. Regardless of which side you take on this issue one thing is clear: the refs need to better communicate with both fans and benches what is going on and reasoning behind calls. That mess aside, the Huskies looked strong both nights taking leads early and not giving much up in the way of chances to NMU. Blake Pietila continued to show he is up the task of being the regular starter while the incoming class has started to settle in with Carson Bantle and Arvid Caderoth making their way on to the score sheet with a Goal and Assist respectively. In addition, Tech’s top line of Bliss-Misiak-Parrottino showed they are ready for any team with those three tallying nine points over the weekend. On the blue line Eric Gotz and Colin Swoyer are continuing to cruise with Lipe and Thorne continuing to improve with every game. In addition, the Huskies cleaned up their play taking no major penalties.
Keys to the Game
- Intensity. The Chargers are going to be playing with a chip on their shoulder after everything that has happened. Tech will need to keep up the pace and not find themselves in a lull later into each game.
- Offensive Depth. The top two lines for the Huskies are very solid. The bottom six are still improving, if the Huskies get a several goal lead, I would expect more ice time to go to these lines to allow them to grow.
- Keep calm. The refs have been a point of frustration lately both the players and coaching staff need to keep calm so that they don’t cause any unnecessary ejections or penalties.
The only thing that kept the Chargers competitive against Tech was the presence of Mark Sinclair in net. He is now with the Huskies and given UAH’s hardships it should result in a Tech sweep. They just need to make sure they keep the effort up throughout the entire series so they don’t get out played. MTU wins 4-2, MTU wins 3-0.
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 Saturday at 4:07 Est and game 2 will be Sunday at 2:07 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.