Our Huskies (16-7-4, 15-6-4 (1-1) Pairwise) find themselves back in the UP this weekend for its last UP match up of the regular season against the Northern Michigan Wildcats (12-12-0, 9-12-0 (3-0) Pairwise). NMU is coming off a split with Bemidji (10-9-5, 7-8-5 (3-1) Pairwise) on the road.
Since their last time playing our Huskies, Northern ended up going 2-4 splitting with the Beavers and Bulldogs while being swept by the Mavericks. Their key weakness still appears to be their lack of defense while goalie Beni Halasz has done his best with what he has in front of him. Looking at their stats we see:
If there is one thing that this NMU team is good at is scoring and scoring by committee. With six players being above 15 points while if we lower the bar to 10 points that number jumps to 9 players. Comparing this to Tech’s 4 players above 15 points and 9 players above 10 points we see that both teams can score from multiple lines, but NMU is on top when it comes to high end talent.
Looking at their goaltending arsenal, we see a similar story to when Tech last played them with Halasz dominating most of the playing time. He has proven to be a competent netminder but suffers from NMU’s play style and lack of defense where they don’t care how many goals they give up as long as it’s one less than they scored.
Last weekend’s set of games for NMU are:
As seen above, the key to keeping the Wildcats at bay is keeping to the outside of the zone resulting in more shots, but of lesser quality. If the Huskies can manage this same strategy, Blake will be able to handle the rest on the defensive side of things.
Speaking of our Huskies, they ran into another semi-disappointing weekend with a win and a tie against a good Ferries team. The main reason for the disappointment is due to the fact that the Huskies had the lead going late into the 3rd period, then gave up an extra attacker goal. This marks the 4th time the Huskies gave up a late 3rd period goal this season. This trend has resulted in three pairwise ties, and one over time loss. The ties all ended in a shootout loss. Though the results aren’t what fans want, it does show how well built this team is for a tournament setting and 5 on 5 overtime.
Looking at the shot charts we find:
Game one was a total domination by the Huskies controlling all aspects of play. Though the score was only 1-0 their expected goals were much higher, if you want to see the full set of stats for the series go check out THG’s Analytics with Augie article! Game two was much closer with Tech giving up more high danger chances while also letting Ferries repeatedly whack at the puck while it was in the crease, finally giving way to a goal almost every time. This will have to change for this series against NMU since the Wildcats are a much more offensive team.
Keys to the Game
- Cats vs Dogs. This NMU team is very unpredictable about what team you are going to face. Our Huskies are the same way, as fans won’t know who will make it to the score sheet. Tech will need more offense than they generated against Ferris last weekend to have any chance of taking both wins.
- Special teams. The Wildcats have a 23.8 PP% while Tech has a measly 14.9%. This weekend is sure to have its fair share of penalties, and hopefully our Huskies will be able try to turn things around. On the PK side of things our Huskies are good for 4th in the country with an 87.9 PK% compared to NMU’s 27th ranked 80.9%.
- Cool heads prevail. Like every rivalry game between these two teams, tempers and emotions will be on full display. Tech needs to keep it cool and not do anything stupid in terms of possible penalties. Northern will be poking the sleeping pack, but little do the cats know that our pack of Huskies has one Jack Works poking back.
I think Tech should be able to get two wins out of this series if they can hold a lead (assuming they get one). However, they need to prove yet again that they can win while ahead otherwise fans should be prepared for a late game upset. Nevertheless, this series boils down to systems and I still feel Tech’s defense first is the better of the two. MTU wins 2-1, MTU wins 4-1.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Wildcats.
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), via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video, and broadcasted on TV6 featuring Mark Evans & Dave Ellis. Game 1 at Tech will be Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 in Marquette 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.
Jonathan graduated from Michigan Tech in the spring of 2018 with a degree in Physics and Social Science in addition to a minor in Social and Behavioral Studies. He spent his college career watching hockey with the Misfits where he became the treasurer in his last year. When not traveling to away games he resides in Hancock working for a local engineering company and keeping up with all things Tech Hockey.