Our Huskies (3-2) now begin their journey into the CCHA after four weeks of non-conference play and a bye week. They find themselves facing off with the Lake Superior State Lakers (6-3-1) who are coming off of a tie and a win against St. Lawrence (1-2-2).
So far this season, the Lakers have managed to put up a 6-3-1 record while tied for first in the NCAA in goals. This on its surface is a very impressive feat, until you begin to dig a little deeper into the weeds. First, we’ll focus on the Lakers, who are currently 3rd in the NCAA in goals against, 30th in PK% and 35th in SV%. At first, one might think that this is fine since they are clearly winning games. Though that line of thinking may be valid to some degree, it starts to break down when we look at who they’ve played so far this season.
Against schools that are above .500, LSSU finds themselves at a 1-3-0 record. This current LSSU team record is a result of beating up on the NCAA basement while having one win against an impressive Omaha team. Just under ~39% of their goals have come on the power play with 10 of the 15 PP goals being against a team in the bottom half of the NCAA in PK%.
LSSU has had a relatively easy season up until this point with the exception of Michigan and Omaha. Both these teams were able to pull out a win against the Lakers both with a lesser offense than our Huskies have.
As for the LSSU personnel, here are the current point leaders in addition to goaltending stats:
The offense has been semi-top heavy around the first line and PP unit, though there is a healthy point distribution all the way down the Laker roster. I would look for these top numbers to not be sustainable as the season progresses and the Lakers face tougher opponents. Turning our attention to netminders, it appears to be an even 50/50 split regardless of the outcome of game one. I would expect this to continue for this series and couldn’t give a good prediction as to who will be in net game one.
Transitioning to our Huskies, game one saw an absolute beauty of a game with Tech controlling all facets of the game. Game two, however, saw very good play be spoiled from roughly 5 mins of unfortunate play. Though Tech was able to apply pressure, they were unable to tie the Golden Knights, resulting in the predicted loss of game two by a correct score of 2-1. Though this series ended in a split, it gave some very important insight into our Huskies and how they compete against a non-defensive team, such as what we saw against Notre Dame (4-3-0).
One concern that again makes an appearance this season is a lack of scoring. The depth on this team is there with the ability of any line to be on the top of the score sheet, but again we only saw one player muscling the Huskies across the finish line. This week’s play was none other than Brian Halonen with a three goal weekend. His line was the sole offense with the exception of a Ryland Mosley empty net goal. Hopefully, Tech can stretch their legs against a one-dimensional Lakers team averaging 3.20 goals against per game.
Keys to the Game
- Keep it locked down. The Huskies still boast one of the strongest defenses in all of college hockey. The Lakers have not seen anyone that has come close to Tech since their first meeting against Omaha. Though I don’t think Tech is the better offensive team as of right now, defensively they are leagues ahead.
- Hold the lead. The Lakers have been known to stall our Huskies once they gain a lead. It is imperative that the Huskies don’t let Damon Whitten stall our offense out. Whitten is a talented coach and has a $2000 incentive to sweep the Huskies in the season series.
- Start strong. The biggest advantage off the ice the Lakers have is the lack of travel. The Huskies had a tough trip to and from Potsdam under a week ago. The Lakers on the other had just had a home series and are all rested up for this coming weekend. Hopefully the Huskies can avoid any travel woes and be at full strength.
All and all this should be a very exciting series to watch. The Lakers have a very impressive offense that can hang with the best in college hockey so far this year. However, their numbers are heavily inflated right now with their only real competition being Michigan and Omaha. I think Tech should be able to sweep this series if they continue to play their game. Let the battle of an unstoppable force vs an immovable object begin! MTU wins 3-2, MTU wins 4-2.
Cover photo courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics.
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 Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 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.