Season 2 Episode 19 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “Derailments.” This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath, and Matt Cavender were joined by Todd Milewski, who covers the Wisconsin Badgers (and Forward Madison) for the Wisconsin State Journal and the Editor Emeritus for USCHO. This week we discussed:

  • Our history with Todd (4:48)
  • Wisconsin Badgers (7:26)
  • Robbie Beydoun (9:25)
  • Big Ten Hockey (16:59)
  • USCHO Poll (25:44)
  • CCHA/Realignment (34:01)
  • Joe Shawhan Hour (49:12)
  • BSU Series (66:39)
  • WCHA Playoff Predictions (73:31)

Our History with Todd

Tim and Todd go all the way back to Tim’s shirtless days. They briefly recalled Wisconsin’s Crease Creatures taking their shirts off in retaliation to Tim. While Tim’s never been kicked out of the Kohl center, he has been “talked to” on many occasions.

This led to a discussion on how many times Tech fans get kicked out or “spoken to” by arena staff and the reasons for those kinds of encounters. In short, Dustin’s got a short fuse for dumb rules.

Wisconsin Badgers

How the Badgers have been doing really speaks for themselves. They’ve enjoyed a very successful season, formally winning the Big Ten. However, in the COVID year, it wasn’t without its share of controversy as well, given how the Big Ten did standings this year.

At the start of November, the member institutions said they were going to determine their conference winner based on regular points, but if there was an uneven number of games they resorted to winning percentage. Essentially, this weighed overtime wins differently. Had the Big Ten decided to stick with points, Minnesota would’ve won the conference, but because they decided to go with winning percentage, Wisconsin won out by fractions of a percentage. Name a more iconic duo than Minnesota and missing out on something by fractions of a percent, I’ll wait.

Robbie Beydoun

When it comes to the Badgers, what our listeners are probably most interested in is how former Husky Robbie Beydoun has been doing between the pipes for the Badgers this season.

To understand where Todd is coming from in analyzing the former Husky, ever the past half decade or so, the Badgers have struggled to get any kind of consistency in net. They’ve been the only team in the Big Ten to have under a .900 save percentage in that timeframe, which illustrates the frustrations the Badgers have had on the back end.

However, Robbie came in understanding the goaltending situation and that he would be splitting time with a high-promise level prospect in Cam Rose and has overall risen to the occasion. He got a shutout in his first game, has progressed throughout the season and being in a situation where he only has to be responsible for one game has offered him a lot more focus.

Most Tech fans remember Robbie for going on streaks where he was absolutely unbeatable, followed by a game or two where he seemed completely off. With Michigan Tech’s situation in a defense-heavy league, this could lead to many problems. However, being an above average backstop has led to Robbie having a great deal of success down in Madison.

Big Ten Hockey

The NCAA tournament and how the smoke-filled room is going to play out has been a big topic of discussion for the Chasing MacNaughton team for the entire season. This week, we wanted to hear from Todd to see how he thinks the Big Ten stacks up against the nation and how many teams from the conference does he realistically think are going to be headed to the dance.

Right now, Minnesota and Wisconsin are probably going to be battling for the final #1 seed, and that’s pending conference tournament results. Our friends in Ann Arbor aren’t very far behind them, either. Reliably, we can expect the Big Ten to be three-bid league, but if somebody other than Wisconsin, Minnesota, or Michigan runs the table in the tournament, despite all of the heartache it would cause WCHA fans there’s a good chance that they turn into a four-bid league.

As far as how Todd views the chances for WCHA teams, he believes Mankato to be a foregone conclusion to make the tournament, and I’m not sure anybody can disagree with that assessment given their dominance this season. After that, it’s kind of a toss between the next grouping of Lake State, Bowing Green, Bemidji, and Tech. We’re a league that likes to beat up on each other and how our landscape looks really depends on a weekend’s results. We can likely expect the WCHA to be a two to three bid league based on current projections and expecting nothing other-worldly to happen in the chase for (probably the final) Sauer Trophy.

USCHO Poll

Much like Matt Wellens last week, Todd Milewski is also a national poll voter. This year, many poll voters seem to be taking the position more seriously as it’s less an indication of who’s doing well coupled with who they like, the final selections may be made based upon what the pollsters choose.

Last week Matt made the joke that once you get somebody to vote in the poll, they usually don’t let them go because they’re hard to replace. Todd echoes this sentiment, and feels that in order to be a pollster, you have to do your homework, prove what a team did last week, have a solid profile of teams and why they’re being placed the way they are, and so on.

We’re always interested in hearing what goes into poll voting, and Todd was able to offer some insights this week that are very interesting and well worth the listen.

CCHA/Realignment

We offer Todd a penny for his thoughts on the CCHA, which we’re aware is a big ask. We started with the name, and much like many of our fans he was unimpressed.

He did see the writing on the wall with the way economics are going. He got the logic of the 7 member institutions condensing their geographic footprint. But, it does take a bit away from being a more inclusive atmosphere in college hockey because after being the teams that were boxed out after realignment, we’re the ones doing the boxing out. None of us want to see the Alaska schools or Huntsville go by the wayside, but it was an act of self-preservation for the Midwest-centric conference. Because of the way everything is shaking out, it’s unlikely Anchorage will have a team next year despite their revitalization effort.

We also air some frustrations with the Big Ten staying a small league after realignment. We were hoping to see many more teams like Northwestern, Illinois, and Iowa pick up hockey instead of making a small conference and keeping it that way. We get that starting a program is no small feat, but we’re frustrated to see the Big Ten make a big deal about breaking away and not innovate and expand as much as many were hoping to see.

We go down several rabbit holes in this segment, including how many conference games we should have, how the NCAA tournament rules this year are burning some teams and helping others and more. Todd also wanted to plug the college sports page over at madison.com, so be sure to check out their content and support our guest.

Tune in to hear more!

Joe Shawhan Hour

Though many of us predicted different outcomes, the expectation this weekend is that we were going to get swept and look decent doing it. The members of the pod overall felt like we did that, we looked pretty good and just couldn’t finish some chances.

One of the questions that Joe got this week was “who on the team are the best trash talkers?” Tim’s favorite moment on the weekend was Saretsky pointing to the name on his back after drawing a penalty, then having Joe confirm that he was one of the best trash talkers on the team. Tim may have been the only one that caught it live, but it was nonetheless entertaining.

We also would like to praise Joe for the way he talked about officials this week. He thought we had a fair game called, and the members of the podcast agrees.

Furthermore, we take some time to discuss the language around embellishment penalties and why they’re always called along with another penalty. For the standalone penalty, we discuss the language of the diving call. Even as somebody that’s been following the game for years, this was useful information to me, so be sure to listen this week to get some more rules.

BSU Series

Speaking of coaches that have a reputation with officials, this weekend we’re up against a coach that walked across the ice to berate officials after a game. So, what’s to be expected from the Bemidji State series? We’re expecting the series to be called very evenly, whether it’s an “everything goes” or “nothing goes” situation. Due to the nature of this matchup being between the fourth and fifth seeds, we’re also expecting to see some of the higher-graded officials because the series is expected to be closer than month.

We’re also hoping that we can continue to play at or above the level of our opponents, as to opposed to what we might do against teams that are below us. We’re also hoping to finally crack Driscoll, head back to Mankato, and see if we can road-warrior our way back to a championship.

WCHA Playoff Predictions

Everybody on the podcast makes their predictions as to which teams will walk away with their respective playoff series. Everybody contributes their two cents, but I will say that I offered to take my shirt off for next week’s podcast if Ferris manages to get a single win against Mankato next week.

Cut For Time

This week’s cut content for patrons is approximately 20 minutes long. We have extensive discussions about women’s hockey and how badly we want to see a team at Tech, St. Thomas’s entry into DI hockey, how a stretched budget might affect opponents in the coming years, a soccer tangent, a train going literally off the rails that’s kept Tim up all night at work and more. Tune in to hear more!

Learn More

For additional information and more episode liner notes, check out our episode overview on Tech Hockey Guide. To make sure we can afford all our fancy equipment we purchased for the podcast and the THG website in general, please check out our patreon page and consider joining. Patrons at our Black Level or above receive an authentic MTU jersey patch and access to extra podcast content including extended versions of our other episodes. This week’s extended version is about 101 minutes.
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