Season 2 Episode 20 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; “Felina.” This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, Rob Gilreath, and Matt Cavender were joined by Nate Wells, who covers college hockey as a freelance writer. This week we discussed Bracketology, the Joe Shawhan Hour, the future for Joe Shawhan and MTU Hockey and the WCHA playoffs.
Nate’s been across the board in his journalism career. He’s done some writing for NCAA.com, The Athletic and much more. His coverage throughout his career has been mainly Minnesota Golden Gophers centric, with his handle being @gopherstate on twitter.
Looking to the tournament, Tim came up with a list of 10 teams that he believes are in no matter what, as well as a list of 8 teams who were alive at the time of recording on Monday night that needed to win their respective tournaments to get to the dance. Tim wanted to double check them with Nate to get an expert opinion in his findings. There were a few teams Tim had in the “lock” category that Nate has in “bubble” territory, but overall he agrees with the assessment.
We also take a lot of time to discuss tournament positioning, the East/West divide, how on Earth the committee is going to come up with an excuse to admit half of the ECAC into the tournament this season, and why Bemidji State and Lake State haven’t been given much credit for being better than Bowling Green, the lone WCHA school to play out of conference games (including games against #10 Quinnipiac) and doing fairly well. There’s several levels of politics here, including conferences making their bids for more teams, the continued conflict between the East and West, plus much more, The smoke-filled room is certainly going to be interesting to watch, and it’s going to be worth the watch of the selection show on Sunday.
Denver made a case all week that despite having a losing record and having a record worse than that of Nebraska-Omaha, they should be considered for a National Tournament spot. We take some time in this segment to dissect the legitimacy of this claim, and whether or not they can get in without winning the NCHC tournament. Now that Denver has been brushed aside by North Dakota, our staff feels more or less as though they should be brushed aside. But, we shall see what the committee decides.
Where the WCHA Fits (22:44)
Now that most championships have been decided, there’s only 1 spot left that a lot of teams from a lot of different conferences are going to start fighting for. In terms of the WCHA, we can likely pencil in 2 teams. We pretty much know Mankato is in, but you can make a good argument for whoever wins the Bemidji State/Lake State game. Aside from that, we’ve beaten up on each other too much in our league to make the justification for a third team. We’ll likely hear some arguments for why, but it’ll be tough to see another team in without taking away an NCHC or Big 10 team.
However, it stuck me as pretty sad and pathetic that Bowling Green decided to take to twitter to tweet out their “NCAA Tournament Resume.” Even though I’d argue Tech has much more of a national tournament tournament than Denver, I appreciate out media team’s decision to stay silent on the matter to avoid easy pot shots like these:
Mitch’s Misfits IM Team Tournament Resume— Mitch’s Misfits (@mitchsmisfits) March 18, 2021
UNDEFEATED in unscored scrimmages
1ST!!! in GAA
1 win this season
9 goals all season
Several players tripping over the blue line
Can we get in too please? https://t.co/qqb7hSTE7b
???? ?????????? ?????? pic.twitter.com/FVD8VTWioR— Johnny Mask (@FIGHT_THE_PANTS) March 19, 2021
Bowling Green’s series of “NCAA Tournament Resume” tweets have just come across as downright odd. Especially this first one, in which they list career accomplishments for some of their players as if that should matter for a single tournament. If you’re looking for a cheap laugh, go check out the replies.
However, it is nice that this season we have two regionals that are truly western sites this year in Fargo, ND and Loveland, CO. We don’t have to worry about making jokes about Allentown being our favorite part of the Midwest, at least not this year. For the first round, they are trying to avoid inter-conference matchups, which means somebody will likely have to get sent the wrong direction.
We take more time to dive in to how we think the bracket will shake out, be sure to listen in to hear what we have to say!
WCHA playoffs (39:26)
We all knew we had to get here. None of us on the show had the Huskies getting swept, we all had us winning the series or at least pushing 3. However, the biggest surprise on the weekend was Northern Michigan scooping up their series against Bowling Green. I think I can safely speak for most people when I say that series result truly felt like it was out of nowhere. While it’s hard to congratulate the Wildcats for anything, credit is certainly due to them. In just three games, they may have very well eliminated any footing the Falcons had in bargaining for an NCAA tournament birth and that in and of itself is pretty impressive.
It was also kind of impressive how dominant Lake State was their whole series. Everybody on the podcast had the Lakers moving on, but we didn’t anticipate them outscoring the Chargers 10-2 on the weekend. We also took some time to air our frustrations about the Tech series, namely that it simply didn’t sit with us right that the goals scored against us felt very flukey and we seemed to control the pace of both games, especially Saturday night’s contest.
?????? ???! A feisty start to the series against the Chargers! Five guys found the back of the net tonight in the victory!— Lake State Hockey (@HockeyLSSU) March 13, 2021
Goals: Veillette (x2), Puricelli, Kaelble, Ambrosio, Mucha
SOG: LSSU 27, UAH 14
Recap: https://t.co/kgoKCkcvyN pic.twitter.com/25rJ8HMzuU
It always sucks to lose out of the playoffs, but the way the Huskies managed to do was extremely frustrating to watch. If you need help processing your pain, join the Tech Hockey Guide Discord server to chat with the writers, podcast hosts, patrons, and followers of Tech Hockey Guide.
Joe Shawhan Hour (43:24)
A lot of the focus on this week’s Joe show was talking about offensive chances created versus how often that resulted in goals. This past weekend, a lot of offense was generated but not many shots hit the back of the net. In a lot of ways, you make your own luck. But at the same time, Tech generated a lot of offensive chances this year and simply didn’t score as often as we were expecting. Given the number of chances to number of goals scored, Tech was essentially a goal a game below the average that we were hoping to see. That’s the kind of stat that tends to make or break a season, and this year, it seems to have broken ours. We generated chances, but we also had insanely bad luck.
Joe also spent a lot of time talking about non-conference schedules. Next season we have Wisconsin in Madison, a single game hosting Notre Dame with the Development Program coming the other day, and we have an extra non-conference games against Northern. We’re also scheduled to go to Clarkson and the GLI is still scheduled to happen. There’s even more non-conference games coming up to keep an eye on, be sure to listen in to hear more! Most of us on the pod are hoping to go to as many away games as possible next season assuming the world returns to some sense of normal by then, so be sure to say hello if you see us!
The Elephant in the Room (58:35)
With Joe Shawhan’s contract coming to the end at the conclusion of this season and with currently no extension to talk about, everybody on the podcast lays their chips on the table as to whether or not Joe should get an extension or if Tech should start to move in a different coaching direction. We split this segment in half, beginning with what all of us were comfortable saying on the public podcast, then transitioning to a patreon only segment covering the same topic in more depth without stepping on too many toes.
Rob and Tim both sit on the fence as to what the right move here is. Rob’s biggest concern is defining where the goalposts should be for Tech as a program. He believes that home ice pretty much every year should be a given, we should be competing for conference dominance and we should be in the conversation for an NCAA berth approximately once every other season. He struggles a little bit with getting fully on the contract extension bandwagon, but on the same note, he feels as though the COVID season is too strange a year to stop with from a program stability perspective.
Tim believes that Joe should’ve been given a one-year extension at the completion of last season knowing it was a lost year, but we’re all well aware that during that point in time hockey was at the bottom of the priority list.
Dustin’s been an advocate for moving on from a coaching perspective all season. He believes as though Joe has hit his ceiling as a coach and if Tech wants to start building up instead of stagnating, they need to move on to a coach that perhaps has a more attractive resume to potentially bring in some more exciting players and implement systems that put pucks in the net. Overall, he believes that we have to raise our expectations and doesn’t feel as though the Shawhan era has been good enough.
I stood alone as the only member of the podcast advocating for the Huskies to stay the course with Joe and wasn’t on the fence about it. My argument was that in the 100 year history of the Michigan Tech Huskies, only 5 coaches have had winning records and Joe Shawhan is among them. I think that just because Tech fell short of expectations doesn’t mean we can just start gunning for the coach, I think that’s a lazy way to deal with what I believe to be Tech’s biggest problem: immaturity. That’s a problem that just gets fixed with time. The Mel recruiting mess becomes a moot point in Joe’s reign as soon as the puck drops on next season, but as it stands, he had to deal with it this year. Next year will be the first season of all-Joe recruits, and I think he’s earned the right to see what that kind of season will bring. Bottom line, if you were to tell me 10 years ago that I would be on a podcast discussing the job security of a Huskies coach with a winning record, I’d look at you like a moron.
Shoutout to Richard Hall who became a patron while we were having this conversation and will get to hear more on this topic! This was one of the more heated conversations we’ve ever had on the podcast, so be sure to tune in this week.
What Will Happen? (73:17)
Everyone here agrees that Joe will most likely be back behind the bench of the Huskies next season, to varying levels of enthusiasm. One thing that can definitely be said for Joe though is that our winning streak against Northern Michigan is so gloriously high that we can’t even keep count anymore, which is a fact that will play quite nicely in contract negotiation talks. We’ll be keeping a close eye on our coaching staff situation and updating our readers and listeners as soon as we know more.
WCHA Championship Game Predictions (81:17)
Who plays who? Any upsets? The guys deliver some steaming hot takes as to how the WCHA season will end. Tune in to hear more!
Three games to crown a champion starting Friday.— WCHA Men’s Hockey (@WCHA_MHockey) March 15, 2021
ℹ️ Tournament Central: https://t.co/Lif0nuMVF0
? Tournament Game Program: https://t.co/kC1ilVDHiB#WeAreWCHA | #ChampionshipSeason pic.twitter.com/00vfGHoVLo
Cut for Time
This week’s cut content for Patreon subscribers is about 55 minutes in length. As aforementioned in The Elephant in the Room, this includes a lot of conversation about Joe’s future with the program. We also talk about the way Clarkson’s season ended, Tech’s faceoff woes this season, and more. Subscribe today to hear the discussion!
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 141 minutes.
Follow us on twitter at ChasingMacPod and you can submit questions through our email address, ChasingMac@techhockeyguide.com. Don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and review which will help us reach more people, and tell your friends. Please check out Jonathan Zamaites series previews every Friday and Mike Anleitner’s Old Dog in Texas column every Wednesday (you should definitely read this week’s column). Also, keep an eye out for new recruiting articles on Tuesdays. As always, special thanks to our patron saint Doc McResin for his generous donation to get this thing running, we hope you enjoy. Also, thanks to The Thank You Notes for all the bumpers in today’s episode. If you like what you hear, check them out at thethankyounotes.bandcamp.com
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