Last Saturday night in Houghton, Michigan Tech celebrated a belated 100 years of NCAA hockey with an alumni game at the J-Mac. The celebration was delayed two years due to the pandemic, but it was a fun evening—the contest between the Cream and Black teams ended up tied (naturally), although the tying goal may, just may, have been scored by the Cream team with seconds remaining with too many men on the ice. In fact, there wasn’t anyone on the bench at all for Cream team when they poked the puck home to end the game in a 10-10 draw.
The game, entertaining though it was, wasn’t the whole show, and, at least for the Old Dog, it was just one part of a whirlwind week. Not only was it the celebration of 100 years of hockey at Tech, but it was also the 50th “birthday” of Blizzard T. Husky—and it was also alumni reunion week and the Old Dog and Mrs. Dog’s 50th year since our graduation.
Best of all, the whole week was a grand social affair, topped off by meeting and greeting dozens of old friends at the hockey game on Saturday night. And, oh, yeah, there were a few trips to the Ambassador and the Downtowner (also known as the athletic event called the “parallel bars routine.”)
Darcy Way is Retiring
Darcy Way, who most recently served MTU as the Director of Advancement, was honored with a Husky jersey after the game for his long service to the University and to commemorate his retirement. Way, who came to Houghton in the fall of 1978 from Alberta and played for the Huskies through the 1981-82 season, was also an assistant coach from 1994 to 2000 and has served Tech in one way or another ever since. In the alumni game, Way started in net and made quite a few nice saves. The Old Dog wishes him well in his post-Tech life.
While Tech had been known as the Huskies for many years, the creation of a costumed mascot didn’t occur until 1972. Bill Wassberg, who was a student then, approached John MacInnes to suggest that the Huskies needed a live mascot.
MacInnes subsequently dragged out a ratty old costume that looked more like a mutant bear with a few dog-like features and, after laying down a few ground rules, told Wassberg to have at it. Unfortunately, the costume smelled like an old hockey bag (which is pretty bad if you don’t know). Bill’s wife Kathleen insisted the uniform be thoroughly aired out before any use, and she then proceeded to start working on a better costume.
From that point forward, the evolution of Blizzard The (or T.) Husky continued and has led us to the mascot Tech fans love today. Athletic Director Suzanne Sanregret presented Bill and Kathleen with an award to honor their contributions to Michigan Tech traditions.
The Old Dog and Mrs. Dog Get Their Golden M Awards
For those who are not aware, Tech awards all alumni who come to the reunion and have reached the 50 year mark since graduation with a special award—membership in the Golden M Society. This is marked with the presentation of a special pin. This year, 2022, marks the 50th year since we graduated, which was the year that both Blizzard T. Husky and the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena began their history as well.
Catching Up With Other Friends And Fans
There were plenty of old friends and THG fans at the game and at alumni events during the week.
I met up with two of the Old Dog’s faithful readers and frequent comment posters, Harold Kennedy and Bob Carnahan. Bob was also a superstar in the Golden M sessions and was the oldest alumni at the reunion, having graduated in 1953. I can probably say that Bob is one of the Oldest Dogs, and certainly the Oldest Dog I keep running into at hockey games.
When I was speaking with Darcy Way after the Blizzard celebration, I had a chance to meet Jamie Ram, who made some outstanding saves during the alumni game. John Rockwell also stopped by and said hi—and I found myself amidst three of Tech’s notable goalies.
In addition, after chasing for two days in Las Vegas at the inaugural Ice Vegas tournament (now the Fortress Invitational) in 2018 and coming up empty, I managed to meet Bill Steele for the first time. Steele was a freshman when I was a senior and he immediately became my favorite player for his manic energy and incredible penalty killing.
Out in Vegas, many members of the 1975 Husky NCAA Championship Team, including Steele, were at the arena. I managed to speak with all of them except Steele at that time. When I asked about him, I was told, “Oh, he’s over in the XYZ bar.” Since there are many bars in the Vegas arena, I’d head over there and ask around. And the answer again was, “Oh, he’s over in the ZYX bar.” I never did find him! One of my Old Dog Awards is named for him—The Billy Steele Penalty Killer Extraordinaire Award.
I met yet another Even Older Dog at the game. Paul Kerttu, known to some as “This Historian” regaled us all with his many tales of Husky Hockey dating back to 1960. Paul has scrapbooks with Husky memories from way back when, and it was a treat hearing many of his stories.
I also met a new friend at the Golden M gatherings—Chang Park, class of 1973. Chang, who was this year’s winner of the distinguished alumni award, was a contemporary of mine and Mrs. Dog, starting at Tech in September 1968. It took Park an additional year to complete his degree, but he spent that year getting an Engineering Administration degree to go with his Electrical Engineering diploma.
Park went on to get an MBA at Wharton, work in the banking industry, and then founded Universal Remote Control, now known as URC. If you own a remote, chances are URC made it. Park’s achievements, generosity, and his amazing life story are summarized on the Tech Alumni website.
Finally, Coach Joe Shawhan was holding court down in the end zone, and we had a chance to talk about several subjects. The only topic I’m going to mention here is that Shawhan expects the Huskies to be picked low in the upcoming season projections. Why? As Shawhan notes, most coaches and voters in these polls look at how many goal scorers are returning in the coming season. Since Tech lost the heart of their offense to graduation and a chunk of their defense to graduate transfers, it only makes sense that Them Dogs aren’t likely to be picked for the top half of the CCHA this coming year.
Oh, Yeah, the Hockey Game
There were quite a few alumni of note who played in the game, including Tanner Kero, Jamie Ram, Brent Peterson, Bill Terry, assistant coach Tyler Shelast and all-time Husky scoring leader Mike Zuke. And you should know that the game was played at a high level for most of the two 25 minute running-clock periods.
You could clearly see that none of these guys wanted to be embarrassed by their play. You can read details about the hockey game here. The best part of this is the final line of the scoring summary: Cream 10: Not sure. 10 guys in Cream around the net.
The great turnout of old stars could have been a bit more interesting, too. In fact, according to Darcy Way, Mel Pearson had committed to play in the game and even had a hotel reservation. However, events in Ann Arbor, which culminated in Pearson’s termination as head coach for the Wolverines, intervened and made it impossible for him to be there.
Of course, this is a hot topic in college hockey and the Old Dog plans to say more about this in a future column after the dust settles.
Meeting The THG Gang
Many of you may not realize that the Tech Hockey Guide is a virtual affair. We work in many different places and rarely get a chance to see each other in person. The Old Dog got to meet in the flesh with several of the other THG team for the first time. That included Tim Braun, Bob Gilreath, and Ryan Johnson.
Ryan, the mastermind behind Johnson’s Jerseys and an avid collector of all things related to college hockey, brought a fantastic collection of Tech jerseys dating back to the years before Piano Dog was introduced. The jerseys were hung in the arena, taking up the entire width of the end zone above the bar area. You can see the details of all of these great sweaters on a Michigan Tech Hockey Tweet.
And believe it or not, after almost six years, Tim Braun, one of the founders of both THG and Mitch’s Misfits, and I came face to face. We met with Tim’s friend Bethlyn Cummings, Tim’s daughter Joey, and Mrs. Dog on the deck at the DT after the game.
It was a perfect way to end the evening and the week.
All photos by Michael Anleitner unless noted otherwise.