A disappointing series this past weekend resulted in the Michigan Tech Huskies (8-5-1) getting swept by the Bowling Greens Falcons (14-4-0). Many factors went into these results from spotty officiating to noticeable fatigue from an unplanned break due to Covid just a week prior. This week, the Huskies will being playing three games against two teams in the Ferris State Bulldogs (0-12-0) and the Alabama-Huntsville Charges (2-5-1). This preview will look to their Tuesday single game match up with the Bulldogs. The Chargers series getting its preview later this week, so stay tuned!
The Bulldogs have had a rough season so far. They have yet to claim a Division I win to their name yet with their only “W” coming against Division III team Trine University (2-4 DIII). The Bulldogs are currently undergoing the NCAA version a rebuild with only nine players being upperclassmen. This has led to significant growing pains this season which has resulted in their 0-12 record so far. That’s not to say all is wrong with the Bulldogs however, the young players they have are beginning to look very good. The biggest name in on this roster is by far and away freshman netminder Logan Stein (0-4-0, 3.74GAA, .884 SV%). He was the 3rd string goaltender for Team USA in this year’s world juniors tournament and had a 12-6-0, 2.33 GAA, .911SV% with the Waterloo Black Hawks just a season ago, which is all the more impressive considering how high-scoring that league tends to be. He is going to do great things in net for the Bulldogs, all he needs is a little help in front of him.
One might think that the help he needs would be from the forward core, but they would be wrong. Aside from four games this season, the Bulldogs have had two or more goals a game. No, scoring isn’t the main issue, it’s the defense. This can be seen in the other two netminders’ stats in Roni Salmenkangas (0-6-0, 4.61 GAA, .859SV%) and Carter McPhail (0-2-0, 5.75 GAA, .839 SV%). The fact that Stein is averaging a full 1 goal against lower just goes to show how little help this trio is getting from their blue line. This starts to become fairly obvious when you look at the Bulldog roster and notice that their entire defense is made up of all underclassmen. If one remembers just a few years ago to the 2018-2019 season, the Huskies were in a very similar situation with a huge number of underclassmen making up a majority of the roster and as a result our goals records weren’t positive with former Husky Matt Jurusik only posting a 9-11-2 record. Though it should be noted he had a 2.50 GAA and .909 SV%, this is due to the fact that the Huskies still had senior present in both the blue line and offensive zone.
I expect this Ferris team to get better in the coming seasons and I look forward to them returning to 2015 form which saw their last NCAA tournament appearance.
Focusing on Tech now, we saw a difficult series take place in the state of Ohio. The Huskies weren’t up to snuff with the Falcons and the officiating didn’t make it any easier with some of their calls. Whether or not you are on the side of the Huskies just got beat, or the officials caused them to lose (especially in game two) one thing is clear, the refs were too noticeable for a hockey game. Regardless, the Huskies leave Bowling Green with two losses and a three-game road trip this week. Hopefully their losses awaken something and they are able to get back to game form, because even though their schedule may have easier opponents, the shear number of games are going to begin to pile up. The month of February has ten games scheduled; it took up until the first week of January to reach that same number.
Luckily, they find themselves playing the bottom end of the WCHA with the exception of Bemidji State. I would expect Tech to be able to run up their record much like the Falcons did at the beginning of their season but only time will tell.
Keys to the Game
- Flex your offensive muscles. The Bulldogs’ defense just isn’t there this season. The only way they are going to win is if their netminder stands on his head. I wouldn’t say its out of the realm of possibility, just very unlikely.
- Regain your confidence. This one-off game is going to give the Huskies a chance to have a quick comeback. Their offense, defense and goaltending will get to have a good chance at showing us what they are truly made of and how the series against the Falcons was just a one off.
- Start your starters. This isn’t the time to try to give players a chance to redeem themselves, this month is a literal sprint and Tech needs to get their legs back. Not to mention this one-off game is happening in conference while the UAH series is “non-conference”.
Nothing but a win is acceptable here. They need to decisively win and win by a lot; their month isn’t going to get any easier. If they manage to give Ferris their first win of the season, I don’t think Huskies will get that far with the other nine games this month. MTU wins 5-2.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. This game will be Tuesday at 7:07 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. Cover image courtesy Ryan Johnson.