After their journey to the 49th State, our Michigan Tech Huskies (2-1-0, 2-1-0 (0-0) Pairwise), return to the lower forty-eight with a sweep and some momentum into this week’s homestand against the Bemidji State Beavers (1-1-0, 0-1-0 (1-0) Pairwise). The Beavers find themselves well rested after an early season bye-week after splitting with the Arizona State Sun Devils (2-4-0, 2-2-0 (0-2) Pairwise) two weeks ago at home.

Analysis

The Beavers enter into the season in a similar situation as our Huskies. Gone are all the big names Tech fans are all too familiar with in the Sillinger brothers, Somoza, and Kirkup. Instead, the once top heavy Beavers are now trying to find their new upper end talent. This can be seen with their current top scorers so far this season:

With the exception of Rosen, the top point getters are composed of lesser known players to fans outside of Bemidji. Additionally, these numbers should be taken with a grain of salt as it was their first series of the season and they played against a very hit or miss ASU team.

Here in the InStat shot graphs we find: 

Game 1
Game 2

All but one empty net goal in game two came from within the hash marks, this series consisted of a high transition game and driving the net to score. Other than power plays where a few goals were scored with good side-to-side movement, driving the net and creating close high danger chances are what yielded the results. This again goes to show that what we saw from the Huskies against Ferris and the USNTDP; when they would take shots from the point, it results in little to no high danger chances. 

The Huskies appeared to learn from their mistakes, as seen from this past weekend’s InStat plots: 

Game 1
Game 2

Tech made a massive improvement in the quality of shots generated this past weekend. They had a larger focus in getting close to the net and/or taking shots from the hash marks or closer. This resulted in a 2-0 shutout in Game 1, with two goals coming from net-driving players taking advantage of the chaos it caused. Game 2 was a different story entirely, with the Huskies scoring five goals in their first ten shots for an insane 50% shooting percentage. As coach Shawhan said in his post game interview, playing like that isn’t the norm and is unsustainable. Though this is true, I along with many Tech fans were glad to be able to enjoy such play. 

Another sight for sore eyes was the diversity in scoring, with six different players finding the back of the net on the weekend. The biggest surprise of the season so far has been both Parker Saretsky and Nick Nardella, who are both leading the team in points. They have been off to a great start, which has been much needed given the down year they had last season. Additionally both Ryland Mosley and Logan Pietila have been having good starts to the season as well on the Tech top line. Kyle Kukkonen is off to a bit of a slower start compared to what we saw during the two first exhibition games, but that is to be expected as teams are probably over coving for his presence on the ice. 

The main story line from last weekend was far and away Tech’s ability to score by committee. Last year, most of the production came from the top two lines. This year, the Huskies appear to be able to roll four lines. The openings this year are causing a wider range of ice time among players in addition to favorable matchups against opponents D pairings as they, just like our Huskies, are still learning how our team plays.

Keys to the Game

  1. Get ahead and Stay there. Beavers head coach Tom Serratore is notoriously hard to play against when the Beavers are ahead in a game. Under his system, they are content to dump the puck and just kill as much time as humanly possible. Tech fans will remember this from last season in the CCHA playoffs. 
  2. The Element of Surprise. The Beavers currently don’t know what to expect going into this weekend. Tech will need to use this advantage to get ahead. Whether it be through better face off match ups or offensive/defensive matchups Tech should use every aspect to their advantage.
  3. Group Effort. As seen in Alaska, this team requires everyone on the team to put in their part. If it’s up to one or two lines like in years past the Beavers will use their more experienced D core to shut down any and all offense.

My Prediction

Both Bemidji and Tech are two sides of the same coin in a way. There has been a lot of turnover between both teams. I would expect the first period of game one to be more of a feeler period to understand how to handle each other. Given the extended rest for Bemidji I suspect the Huskies will have the advantage in game one with the Beaver nullifying it in game two. MTU wins 3-1, BSU wins 4-2. 

The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Tommies. Season Four Episode Five’s liner notes can be found here.

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.