Our Huskies (15-7-3, 14-6-3 (1-1) Pairwise) are on the road this week in Big Rapids to face off against the Ferris State Bulldogs (10-10-2, 9-9-2 (1-1) Pairwise). The Bulldogs are coming off a road split with the Lake Superior State Lakers (4-18-2, 3-17-2 (1-1) Pairwise). Our Huskies look to bounce back after a split with St. Thomas (7-15-1, 6-13-1 (1-2) Pairwise).
Looking back to the beginning of this season, Tech played the Bulldogs in a one game non-conference match and lost 2-1 in a close game. Ferris has been a bit of an enigma this year, not knowing what you are going to get week to week. For example, they swept Minnesota State on the road while also splitting with St. Thomas and Lake State in every matchup so far this year. Additionally they are able to be a team like Michigan State at the GLI while splitting with a 6-12-2 Canisius team at home. It’s not to say the Bulldogs are a bad team, but as they sit right now they really do look to be the definition of a .500 team so far this season.
Now looking at their top point getters we see a slight similarity to our Huskies:
If you were to remove Ryland Mosley from Tech’s point totals it would be nearly identical to Ferris in terms of point distribution. Sure Tech has more players in the double digit point values, but they also have four more games played. Ferris and Tech both score by committee most nights, with fans not knowing who is going to make it on the score sheet. The main difference for our Huskies are players like Mosley and Blake Pietila who lead the team. Ferris is starting to look like they might have their own version of Pietila in Noah Giesbrecht who has really turned things on this season after a mild freshman campaign. He has been the difference maker so far this season, giving Logan Stein getting a run for his money for the starting spot. Coach Daniels still chooses to go with goaltending by committee, but I would have to assume that is going to change by the time CCHA playoffs roll around.
Looking to their last series against Lake State we see:
Both nights saw goalies stand on their heads. The only difference is that the teams switched off whose turn it was. As Tech fans are familiar with, LSSU’s Ethan Langenegger can will a close game into existence. Saturday’s game exemplified this, with Langenegger having FSU’s number throughout the night. Ferris’ loss appears to be no more than a hot goalie while Giesbrecht showing he is still human.
Moving to our Huskies, we saw a disappointing result to the weekend in a split. St. Thomas is a much improved team this season and they play a style of hockey that Tech couldn’t keep up with. Instead of playing their game it looked like Tech acquiesced to play the Tommies game instead of sticking to their own style. If you want an in depth look at the series head on over to Analytics with Augie.
Otherwise here is the non-gif version of the week’s shot chart:
Game one was closer than game two despite the score. Game two just saw the perfect chances by the Tommies on two faceoff plays that our Huskies weren’t able to deal with. On the bright side is that fans are seeing the evolution of a few players on the Tech squad. Players like Evan Orr, Levi Stauber, and Jack Works have shown the growth this week with the addition of the Rasmussen-Saretsky-Ashbrook line showing the most offensive dynamic potential on the weekend. These six players have been picking up the slack from Tech’s top line of Mosley-L. Pietila-K. Kukkonen, which has been a bit streaky these past few weeks. Additionally, Orr has been catching my eye ever since I had the chance to speak with him for two periods in the press box back in game one against Minnesota State back in November. After that game fans would see some players leave due to injury, giving Orr the chance to play, and he hasn’t looked back since. In game two against St. Thomas, he led the team in TOI and I fully expect him to play up to the caliber of a Brett Thorne as his college career progresses.
Keys to the Game
- Play your game. This is the single most important thing for our Huskies this weekend. Ferris plays a similar game to St. Thomas and if Tech plays down to the Bulldogs fans are going to be disappointed. It’s called Huskies hockey for a reason, don’t underestimate your opponent.
- Tumble Dry. The Huskies have been treating Blake Pietila like a blanket on a clothesline lately given the amount of times they left him out to dry. Blake is a Richter and Hobey candidate this season for good reason, but even he is human. Given a team enough chances on breakaways they are going to pot one eventually.
- Special Teams. The Huskies powerplay is terrible to put it in the best possible terms. At 15.2% Tech is good for 47th in the NCAA and last in the CCHA. At this point I would guess the issues are more mental than actual performance. Our Huskies are still 12th in the pairwise going into this weekend with an abysmal powerplay. It’s time to just accept it and stop worrying about it. Yes practice it and try to improve, but don’t let it affect the rest of the game. This applies to fans too, just calm down.
This is still the Huskies series to loss and hopefully the loss on Saturday lit a fire under their buts to end the season strong. Tech can still get an at-large bid, but they need to play their style of hockey, this weekend will be a good test to see if they can bounce back. MTU wins 3-2, MTU wins 4-2.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Bulldogs.
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 featuring Harrison Watt. 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.