After suffering their first regulation loss since December 4th 2021, the Michigan Tech Huskies (18-9-2, 17-4-2 (1-5) Pairwise) find themselves returning to a normal schedule and on the road in Big Rapids to face off against the Ferris State Bulldogs (10-20-0, 7-19-0 (3-1) Pairwise). The Bulldogs find themselves trying to recover from a sweep by Lake Superior State Lakers (14-15-1, 12-14-1 (2-1) Pairwise).
Since their last time meeting, the Bulldogs have seen more success going 6-8 with some impressive performances. Most notably, the Bulldogs took the 13 hour drive into Bemidji and managed to sweep the Beavers. However, there have been a few lows along the way, getting swept by the Lakers and Mankato and dropping a game to the Tommies for their second win of the season.
There is more than meets the eye with this Ferris team however. As reported in THG’s Chasing MacNaughton podcast, FSU’s play by play announcer Harrison Watt gave us a bit of insight to the current Bulldog mindset and what happened against LSSU. In short, Ferris suffered a flu through the locker room (Non-Covid related) during their bye week which resulted in the Bulldogs playing at less than full strength. Additionally, netminder Logan Stein was unable to play all weekend due to this flu. Instead, newcomer Noah Giesbrecht has filled in very nicely, becoming a high impact player in a short period of time.
While Giesbrecht had a rough opening to his young CCHA career, he had flashes of brilliance in the sweep against BSU, giving up only two goals on the weekend. Giesbrecht and Stein are two very bright spots on this bulldog team as they are in my top five goaltenders in the “up and coming” category in the CCHA. Only time will tell if the Bulldogs can build around them in the coming years to give them a fighting chance to consistently record wins.
Additionally, they have seen a bit of an increase in production in scoring:
The team is still led by seniors Justin Michaelain and Liam MacDougall with some of the other classes getting a bit of representation. More impressively is the sheer amount of goalies that have seen games this season. Compared to most teams that will typically only see 1-2 different netminders.
However, like we covered in the last Ferris preview they still lack depth scoring and production after their top five. This is similar to Tech, but the Huskies depth scoring is managing a higher point total than the Tulik, Pokorny, and Marek trio. The InStat data from FSU’s past weekend is as follows:
If they can keep shots to the slot like in game one where they potted three goals then there is a real chance that they can keep things interesting. Like Harrison said in the interview these Bulldogs go into this weekend as spoiler and only time will tell if they can get the job done.
Meanwhile, our Huskies ended their iron man streak on a bit of a low note due to fatigue finally getting a foothold. They looked very solid in game one where they shut out the Falcons 4-0 with the shot chart being:
The Huskies managed to get shots deflected and in the slot while keeping the Falcons to the parameter the entire night. Most of the Tech goals were made with speed and a lot of effort in moving the puck around the zone to cause confusion. Game two was a different story:
The Huskies were more tired going into this game while also giving up more quality chances close to the net. Additionally, the puck luck (and officials) were not doing Tech any favors either. The Falcons managed to capitalize on a tired Huskies team and as a result they only managed to put up 3 shots in the 3rd period.
Keys to the Game
- Win factor. These games mean way more to the Huskies than the Bulldogs. FSU’s playoff and NCAA tourney path are already set in stone. They need to win the CCHA tournament all on the road. The Huskies on the other hand need to win these games to keep their at-large bid alive.
- Game Management. The coaching staff has done a good job keeping the Huskies conditioned and up to snuff. They will need to keep this trend going as the Huskies will hopefully have depth in the CCHA and National play off run.
- Set the Pace. Pacing will be important in these series. Game one saw what happens when the Huskies can do when they dictate the pace and game two showed what happens when they can’t.
I think this is the Huskies series to lose. I also think game two against the Falcons left a bad taste in the team’s mouth. I would say to look for a big comeback this weekend, try to make a statement that they are in the running for an at-large bid and they are here to stay. MTU wins 3-1, MTU wins 4-1.
Cover photo courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics.
InStat plots created by Zach Aufdemberge
How to Watch
Tuesday’s games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Friday’s game is at 7:07 EST with Saturday’s game being 6:07 EST
*Flohockey.tv is also the source of all games played in CCHA 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.