Its been over a month since the last time these two teams saw each other and this time it will finally be in conference play. The Wildcats (8-13-1) have managed to go 6-3-1 in that time, while the Huskies (15-8-1) have finally managed to get a win after a frustrating week for players, fans, and coaches.

Analysis

The biggest story line for this Wildcat teams since their last meeting with the Huskies has to be their roster. If you take the time to look, you’ll notice Grant Potulny’s team has a total of five goaltenders on it. This gives me a chance to once again break out the use of a table to show you all find players and how they have faired this season.

As you can see all but sophomore John Roberts have seen playing time, but only one has seen any real measure of success. Newcomer Rico Diamtteo joined the Wildcats in the beginning of January after playing 10 games for the Lone Star Brahmas of the NAHL, where he put up a 6-2-1 record with a 2.09 GAA and .916 SV%. Diamtteo didn’t get any net time until February 7th against LSSU (12-5-3) and hasn’t looked back, providing the Wildcats with goaltending stability they haven’t had all season. He has been able to seemingly right the ship, providing a reliable backstop that changes this team from being just a glass cannon to a more rounded and competitive foe. 

Additionally the Wildcats have also been able to fix their defensive woes only giving up an average of 2.75 goals a game in the month of February, versus 4 goals a game between the months of December and January. This has allowed the offense to not work as hard, as the Wildcats no longer have to just score more goals than their opponents to win games, they can play a more rounded style.  This leads to the impress play of late, being able to sweep the Beavers 5-1 in game one and then win game two in overtime by a score of 3-2. Though not all is bright, as they have been beaten as well, losing to Lake State 4-5, Alabama-Huntsville 1-3, and then tying and losing against Bowling Green 2-6. 

Meanwhile, the Huskies have finally turned their fortunes around, taking Tuesday’s game against the Lakers by a score of 4-1.  The Huskies did end up doing some roaster adjustments adding defenseman Brenden Datema to the mix as the extra skater. He has currently been swapping spots with Tyrell Buckley and so far the two have be managing to show just how flexible they can be. On the offense side, the Huskies forth line of Ashbrook-Nardella-Halonen exploded with a total of four points. Hopefully they can continue their streak through these last four games of the regular season. 

Keys to the Game

  1. Keep it Consistent. Last week fans and media alike have been wanting see changes due to the 0-3 outcome. With a team like NMU, the style that the Huskies implement will start to shine. Look for the coaches to look like geniuses (hopefully) this weekend. 
  2. Under Pressure. NMU’s record against teams with similar defensive depths (MnSU, LSSU, BSU) is 3-5 with, the Beavers being the only team not taking a win. Tech needs to show that they belong in this group of teams and smother the Wildcats offense. 
  3. End on a Strong Note. After the Wildcats, the Huskies will be going to Mankato to play Mavericks. It is critical that the Huskies keep the momentum and don’t hurt themselves, both physically and in the standings to give them a chance at home ice in the playoffs. 

My Prediction

Looking at their schedule, this Wildcats this is gonna be a drastically different team than what Tech faced in their first four games. These games are going to be closer than a fan of either side is gonna be comfortable with. I think the Huskies come into the weekend with the advantage, but don’t be surprised if their perfect record against the Wildcats goes away. MTU wins 4-3, MTU wins 3-1. 

The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast lso made predictions for this coming series against Northern Michigan. Season 2 Episode 17 liner notes can be found here.

How to Watch

Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video, and broadcasted on TV6 featuring Mark Evans & Dave Ellis. Game 1 at Tech will be Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 in Marquette will be Saturday at 6:07 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.