Season 3 Episode 24 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; Finishing #2. This week, Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom and Rob Gilreath were joined by Jack Hittinger from USCHO. In this episode they discussed Jack’s hockey background, the CCHA, listener questions, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State, CCHA playoff predictions, and the Joe Shawhan Hour.

Jack’s hockey background

Jack started covering college hockey in 2012 when he moved to Bemidji to cover the Bemidji State hockey team. Jack talked about the poor season that BSU had that year and also talked about BSU being a team that will play anyone, anywhere. The last four years for Jack has been covering college hockey in general while living in the Twin Cities. He started working for USCHO in his second year on the beat, and when the reorganization of college hockey conference happened he was asked to cover the WCHA/CCHA and has been doing so for the last eight or nine years.

Perception of changes between leagues

Tim asked Jack for his perception on how things have changed through the various league changes. Jack talked about the night and day difference in communication between the CCHA and the old leagues. He added that it is clear that Commissioner Don Lucia and Director of Strategic Communications Dominic Hennig are passionate about the schools in the league. Tim discussed the fact that Lucia has been on the podcast twice and Hennig and Kevin Langseth (Head of Officials) once. Tim also said that it is nice to have Langseth always available to answer questions about the officiating which was followed by the guys discussing the two and a ten minute penalty on Arvid Caderoth against Ferris State.

Listener questions

There were a couple of listener questions this week. THG’s own Old Dog asked Jack if it is good for college hockey to have a team like Minnesota State dominate a conference and if any school can challenge them. Jack said that he didn’t know that it was great for one school to be so dominant, but noted that the CCHA as a league has been showing signs of being healthier by getting multiple teams into the NCAA tournament lately. The guys then talked about the importance of winning non-conference games during the season.

The other listener question asked the guys what team they thought was a dark hourse to win the conference tournament, and what team hosting a series was most likely to lose. Jack thought that the middle teams in the league are all equal and any one of them can win the first round then go on to win two more games and win the tournament. Dustin was worried about Tech this weekend and commented that Ferris State is better than a seven seed normally is. Rob added that he hopes that the Tech guys have learned their lesson from playing Ferris State so recently.

Michigan Tech’s NCAA tournament outlook

The guys talked for a few minutes about the percentages and outlook for Michigan Tech to get into the NCAA tournament. Rob thought that it would be nice if Tech was able to be a three seed and Dustin talked about not having a problem being the highest four seed. The guys then discussed the possibility that Tech wins the CCHA playoffs and gets a two seed in the NCAA tournament. Tim said that he was happy with the 88% predicted chance to make the tournament, to which Dustin added that it was disappointing that Tech could have easily been a two seed if they had played better over the last three to four weeks.

Fantasy Challenge

Last week, Tim won the week with eight points, Dustin scored five, Matt scored three, Rob scored one and The Ghost was skunked. With the regular season wrapped up, Dustin decided that it was time to end Fantasy Challenge for the season too. And so, the final standings were Dustin at 61 points, Tim at 53 points, Rob at 43 points, Matt getting to final Jeopardy with 29 points, and The Ghost bringing up the rear with 24 points.

Playoff predictions

While the guys still had Jack on the line, they decided to do CCHA playoff predictions for the first round of games. The first series was Minnesota State against St. Thomas and the question was asked if anyone thought that three games would be needed. The next series picked was Tech versus Ferris State. Rob, Tim and Jack all picked Tech in two and Dustin picked Tech in three. The third series was Bemidji State versus Bowling Green. Tim, Jack and Rob all picked Bemidji State in three, but none were terribly confident in their pick. Dustin picked Bemidji State in two. The next series to pick was Lake Superior State versus Northern Michigan. Jack and Rob agreed that LSSU would sweep while Tim picked a NMU sweep and Dustin said NMU in three.

The Joe Show

Most of the guys conversation about the Joe show revolved around Joe’s Ferris State post-game interview and the Joe Show itself. Tim thought that Joe did a great job explaining what happened with the referee explanation during the game. Dustin said that it’s great to see Joe coming across in a more palatable way and added that coaches have to master the art of walking the line by giving answers while not giving away too much information. Tim thought that Joe is growing into what’s required of a modern coach and also added that he thought adding Jamie Phillips to the coaching staff helped to take some burden off of Joe’s shoulders. Tim closed his thoughts be giving kudos to Joe for accomplishing what he said he needed to do this year and finishing second in the league and being in contention for the MacNaughton Cup at the end of the season.

Cut for time

This weeks cut time for Patrons is approximately 18 minutes long. The guys talked more about the CCHA communication success. A couple of listener questions were answered. The guys discussed Minnesota Duluth’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament and the upcoming series between Minnesota Duluth and St. Cloud State. There was discussion about the eastern hockey teams knocking each other out of the NCAA tournament over the next couple of weeks and who Tech can jump in the Pairwise. Tim and Jack talked about the home opener for the Minnesota Loons this upcoming weekend. Rob made a mistake about an OT game between Bemidji State and Bowling Green and the guys discussed which CCHA teams got an extra home series this season. The guys talked about Tech being towards the bottom of the country in OT.

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 77 minutes.

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