Season 5 Episodes 1 and 2 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; Mankato East-Helsinki West. This week Tim Braun, Dustin Lindstrom, and Rob Gilreath were joined by Tim Rappleye who covers the Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) for College Hockey News and Flo Sports. In this episode they previewed the upcoming hockey season from both a CCHA and Michigan Tech perspective.
CCHA Season Preview
Braun started off the episode by asking Rappleye for his thoughts on the CCHA as a whole leading into the season. Rappleye talked about looking at the players who left the league and tied that list back to how good the current CCHA rosters are. Rappleye talked about Michigan Tech having the deepest roster in the league, especially on the defensive side of the puck.
The guys then dove into the individual teams within the CCHA and shared their thoughts. Rappleye was not high on Ferris State and thought they would struggle to be a .500 team. He also did not have high hopes for Bemidji State due to the number of players that they lost in the offseason. Braun thought that St. Thomas would be in the bottom half of the league despite the number of people who think highly of them. Rappleye was quick to point out that he was one of those people who were on the St. Thomas bandwagon. All of the guys thought that the carcass of Minnesota State would end the season with home ice, but only barely. Rappleye also talked about not repeating his mistake from last year with picking Lake Superior State to win the league and thought that they would be in the bottom half of the league as well.
The guys took some time to discuss Minnesota State and the effects of the mass departures from their program on the CCHA. Rappleye thought that the Mayo Clinic Health System Event Center would no longer be a House of Horrors and would make the league as a whole more healthy. Braun thought that it will be good for the league to get away from the “Minnesota State and everyone else” label. Braun also talked about the worst possible outcome for the CCHA, which he thought was becoming a one-bid league into the NCAA Tournament. Rob was interested to see what Minnesota State can do this season and didn’t think they’d be able to keep up the success of past seasons.
Bowling Green was next up on the discussion block. Rappleye thought that they would be a little lost this season but would be fighting for home ice. Overall, he was not impressed with their roster outside of forward Austen Swankler. Northern Michigan was the second to last team the guys previewed. Rappleye thought that Northern Michigan would be solid this year and questioned how they’ll do on the newly narrowed ice at the Litter Box (wait….sorry….The Berry Events Center). Rappleye thought that Northern Michigan would be nipping at the heels of Tech at the top of the league. Rob commented that he doesn’t mind if Northern Michigan is solid, so long as they stay behind Tech.
The guys briefly touched on Augustana University and their upcoming season. Rappleye discussed some of the connections the school has to former NHL players and Braun looked up the dates when their new arena is expected to be completed. Rappleye thought that they would become a serious hockey program in a short time.
In the end, Braun shared his league picture which had Ferris State, Bemidji State and Lake Superior State at the bottom, St. Thomas and Minnesota State in the four/five range and Bowling Green, Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech at the top. He thought that St. Thomas would be the biggest wild card depending on how well their roster gels together.
Michigan Tech season preview
After wrapping up the discussion on the CCHA as a whole, the guys shifted their focus and talked about the upcoming season for Michigan Tech. The conversation started with discussing the Joe Shawhan Hour (JSH) going away. Rappleye shared a couple quotes from Joe that he got during a recent interview related to the JSH no longer being aired. Braun brought up an old wound and talked about Minnesota State game from last year and how that was the nail in the coffin to get the show removed.
The guys spent a good amount of time focused on Michigan Tech’s goaltending situation for the upcoming season. Rappleye posed several questions to the group about Max Vayrynen and whether he’ll get enough minutes to keep him happy this season. Dustin thought that Max should get more starts this year compared to last year. Braun talked about the possibility of Max leaving via the transfer portal if he doesn’t get more playing time this year and posed his ideal scenario for Blake Pietila and Max splitting time. Rappleye pointed out that Tech has fizzled towards the end of the last couple of seasons and posited that it might be due to riding Blake too hard.
The guys also discussed the possible influence that goaltending coach Jamie Phillips has on Joe Shawhan picking which goaltender plays each week. This lead into a deeper discussion on Michigan Tech’s lack of hiring a 3rd paid assistant hockey coach. The guys debated where the line between a coach and a recruiter is.
Towards the end of the show the guys discussed some of the upcoming events revolving around Michigan Tech hockey and THG. There is a pre-game social happening in Duluth, Minn. prior to the US Hockey Hall of Fame Game. Braun talked about some of the games he’ll be at and some of the interviews he was hoping to record during his visits to Houghton.
This week’s cut time for Patrons is approximately 12 minutes long. There was extended insight and discussion from Rappleye about his conversation with Joe Shawhan and some players Joe picked up out of the transfer portal. Braun shared his thoughts on the players Tech picked up from the transfer portal. Braun talked about some of his plans and goals for the podcast in light of the Joe Shawhan Hour ending as well as some of the guests he’s planning on having this pre-season. Dustin told a story about the time he thought he saw new CCHA Director of Officiating Marco Hunt at a gas station. Patron questions were asked.
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Follow us on twitter at ChasingMacPod. Join our Discord server for discussions covering Michigan Tech hockey and more. You can submit questions through our email address, ChasingMac@techhockeyguide.com. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. Please rate and review to help us reach more people, and tell your friends. Please check out Jonathan Zamaites’ series previews every Friday, Mike Anleitner’s Old Dog in Texas column every Wednesday, Zach Aufdemberge’s Analytics With Augie and Nathaniel Brose’s nationwide hockey columns. Also, keep an eye out for new recruiting articles that Tim Braun writes occasionally. As always, special thanks to our patron saint Doc McResin for his generous donation to get this thing running, we hope you enjoy. Also, thanks to The Thank You Notes for all the bumpers in today’s episode. If you like what you hear, check them out at thethankyounotes.bandcamp.com.