Well here we are, it’s the second week of 2023 and our Michigan Tech Huskies (12-6-3, 11-5-3 (1-1) Pairwise) are currently 13th in pairwise. They face off this weekend against the St. Thomas Tommies (5-14-1, 4-12-1 (1-2) Pairwise). The Tommies continue their improvement this season as they are at 47th in the pairwise as opposed to their dead last finish last year.

Analysis

Since their last series against Tech, the Tommies found some relative success, going 3-3-1 sweeping Lake Superior State (3-17-2, 2-16-2 (1-1) Pairwise), splitting with Ferris State (9-9-2, 8-8-2 (1-1) Pairwise), and tying Bemidji State (9-6-5, 6-5-5 (3-1) Pairwise) in game two. They have been very competitive and are showing improvement week after week. Looking at their top players, we see: 

Everyone on this list is an underclassmen with everyone but Aaron Trotter being a freshmen. The Tommies as a team are starting to make real waves in Division I hockey keeping most games close against any opponent within recent weeks. Looking at their previous games against Ferris and an exhibition against UMD, we see: 

In both games, the Tommies kept everything very close despite losing both games. They are no longer an easy victory (though they have never been for our Huskies). I would expect nothing different from this weekend. 

Our Huskies have finally proven that they are the real deal after winning the Desert Hockey Classic with a decisive win against Arizona State and a very close and hard fought victory against Boston University. They are the sole reason that the CCHA might have a chance at getting more than one bid in this year’s NCAA tournament. As they sit right now, the future is well within their control as they continue to prove everyone wrong from our preseason expectations. 

Looking at our shot charts, we find:

Both nights, Tech was able to create some high danger chances while limiting ASU and BU’s. Be sure to check out Augie’s article recapping the previous weekend! 

If the Huskies are able to keep up this momentum and play Coach Shawhan’s blue collar hockey working hard despite their opponent’s record then they should make this weekend a Tech sweep.

Keys to the Game

  1. Work hard, play harder. This is Tech’s biggest weakness. If they go into this weekend thinking it’s going to be an easy two wins, then they are sure to fail. Our Huskies need to make sure they can keep up and play as hard as they did just a week ago.
  2. Special Teams. Tech’s power play is still a weak point going into the second half of their CCHA schedule. This should be a good chance for the Huskies to get some practice as the Tommies’ PK% is only 75.3%.
  3. Tempo. The Huskies need to do a better job at controlling the pace of the game. This we saw against BU where after the first period, the Huskies changed to only defending; which is fine, but they lost pacing. This allowed BU to make the game close and almost tie it at the end of the game.

My Prediction

This is Tech’s series to lose, they need to come home to play and take St. Thomas seriously. If they don’t, the only thing that will hurt is their pairwise and the conference as a whole. Hopefully our Huskies have shown they are done underestimating teams. MTU wins 3-1, MTU wins 4-2.

The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Tommies.

Cover photo courtesy Michigan Tech Athletics.

InStat plots created by Zach Aufdemberge.

How to Watch

Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 7:07 EST while game 2 will be Saturday at 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.

Leave a Reply