As we approach the one-third mark in the 2022-23 season for Michigan Tech, we are also entering Thanksgiving Week. With all of the other things going on in the world, it might be a good time to give thanks for all of the things that Husky Nation should reflect on and accept with heartfelt thanks.
Thanks for the Sweep
This past weekend, the Huskies played a couple of almost insane games in the Twin Cities and came away with two wins against St. Thomas. In their second year in DI hockey, the Tommies are a much better team than they were last year, but just can’t seem to win even though they are close in almost every game. They’ve lost 8 games by one or two goals and have either been ahead or tied in the third period in nearly every close game.
However, despite many injuries, some crazy refereeing, several unnecessary penalties and being on the road, Tech popped in four third period goals on Friday to win 6-2 and then, after losing a 3-0 early lead, scored late on Saturday for a 4-3 win and the sweep. You have to be thankful when things work out like that.
Thanks for Our Fans
While there will always be debates about which team has the best fans, it’s really impossible to have a discussion about that in college hockey without Husky Nation being at or near the top in almost any list of great fan bases. The games at St. Thomas are Exhibit A. Despite being in “The State of Hockey,” as Minnesota bills itself, on Friday about half of the total attendance was cheering for MTU, and on Saturday Husky fans were in the clear majority.
Thanks for the New CCHA
In the last decade, men’s DI hockey in the west has been through several realignment spasms. First, the Big Ten finally got organized, leading to the demise of the “Old” Western Collegiate Hockey Association, the formation of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, and the “New” WCHA which was an unwieldy collection of the leftover programs from the previous setup. That version of the WCHA left a lot to be desired — travel from Fairbanks, Alaska to Huntsville, Alabama and a league office that didn’t seem to think their job was much more than making sure there were schedules and referees for every game.
Finally, it was just too much and seven of the WCHA’s ten teams formed a new and revamped Central Collegiate Hockey Association (which had disappeared in the initial realignment — if you can follow all of that), and, at least for Tech and the other CCHA teams, it’s been a huge boon. Under the leadership of one of the all-time great college coaches, Don Lucia, the CCHA is building a strong, first-rate profile for the future.
They immediately added St. Thomas — a move that not only gave the CCHA a major media presence (in Minneapolis-St. Paul) — and then developed a promotional and social media program that was sorely missing in the WCHA. The CCHA has now developed and, as fast as possible, is implementing first-rate telecast rules (cameras, broadcast crews, TV timeout schedules, etc.) that are light years ahead of the WCHA’s amateurish, homemade approach.
In 2023, the CCHA will add Augustana in South Dakota — and the Vikings are well on their way to completing a state-of-the-art 3,000 seat arena in Sioux Falls, the largest city (by far) in the Mt. Rushmore State.
St. Thomas is in the final stages of planning a new arena as well, and most of the CCHA teams are upgrading their arenas, their locker rooms, and training facilities.
There’s still a way to go, but the CCHA is now, at least in terms of non-conference record, on a par with the East Coast Athletic Conference (ECAC) and is climbing up toward the NCHC and Big Ten (see Nathaniel Brose’s latest summary on this topic).
All Husky fans should be thankful for the way the CCHA is developing.
Thanks for the Fading COVID Pandemic
The COVID pandemic that broke out in 2019 has been — and continues to be — a huge tragedy. Millions have died, and many thousands of lives have been ripped apart by the long-term effects of this disease. And it’s not completely gone and may never be. We certainly shouldn’t minimize this larger picture, but it’s great that (at least for now) the impact of COVID-19 on college hockey has faded into the rear-view mirror. No longer are games canceled, rescheduled on short notice, and entire seasons blotted out due to the pandemic. Nor are we banned from games, forced to substitute cardboard facsimiles ourselves to show our support.
Thanks for the Carleton Place Canadians
During the pandemic, the Huskies added two players from the Carleton Place Canadians in the Central Canada Hockey League, a Junior “A” team — Brett Thorne and Ryland Mosley. Thorne had 5 assists in the recent series at St. Thomas and is one of Tech’s captains. Mosley leads the nation with 3 short-handed goals, including the game winner Saturday night against the Tommies, and is currently second in the CCHA with 15 points in 13 games. He’s also an assistant captain.
Where would the Huskies be without these Carleton Place alumni? If you want to really understand how much it takes to get to NCAA Division I hockey, check out this video about the Canadians’ program. It’s a real eye opener and it shows how well prepared Thorne and Mosley were for college hockey.
Thanks for the Huskies’ Leadership
Finally, all Tech fans should step back and think how fortunate Michigan Tech is to have the leadership that resides in Houghton. First and foremost — for the hockey team at least — Joe Shawhan is a true gem. He’s a man of principle, a coach who is passionate about his team and his players, much in the way that John MacInnes set the bar for Husky coaches. He’s also a bit of a character, a true Yooper whose flaws are on public display, a man you can share a beer with and who’ll talk with anyone about his passions. Finding a coach who’s committed to MTU and Houghton isn’t easy, and Husky fans need to give thanks for Shawhan.
We also need to be thankful for Suzanne Sanregret, now in her 17th year as Athletic Director. She’s been instrumental in helping the Huskies climb from the dark age that followed MacInnes, and she’s also revitalized the entire interscholastic sports scene in Houghton.
Glenn Mroz, university president from 2004 to 2018, was the other piece of the Husky Hockey Renaissance. From his years as a student, professor, administrator, and 2020 Distinguished Alumni recipient, the current shape of Tech’s hockey program was forged with his backing and enthusiasm.
All of these people deserve the thanks of Tech hockey fans.
Finally, Find Thanks in Your Life
The Old Dog hopes everyone who reads this will step back and search for the gratitude they owe for the best things in their own lives. For me, it’s a fairy-tale existence with a 50 year marriage to Mrs. Dog, two children (Red Dog and Bright Dog) who are happy, successful adults, as well as our son-in-law ArtDog and our grandson, Da Puppo. We’ve got our health, I’m still able to work professionally at a pace that satisfies me personally, and we’re truly blessed with the ability to live in Northern Michigan in the summer and Dallas-Fort Worth in the winter.
Here’s to a Thanksgiving filled with gratitude for everyone in Husky Nation.
Mike Anleitner is a 1972 Michigan Tech grad, and he was in the first class of what has become the Scientific & Technical Communications program. He also has an engineering degree from Wayne State and an MBA from Michigan-Ross. He spent forty seven years in various manufacturing and engineering positions, and is currently a semi-retired freelance engineer. He lives during the fall and winter with his wife of 49 years Carol–also a ’72 Tech grad–in Addison, TX, a Dallas suburb with more restaurants per capita than any other municipality in the US. During the summer, Mike and Carol reside in Elmira, MI and avoid the Texas heat.