Season 5 Episodes 8 & 9 of the Chasing MacNaughton Podcast from Tech Hockey Guide; Wall of F with Todd Milewski. This week, Tim Braun, Rob Gilreath, and Dustin Lindstrom were without my (Matt Cavender) services due to Tech Hockey Guide’s editing backlog. This week’s guest was Todd Milewski of the Wisconsin State Journal. The guys discussed a variety of topics including the changing of the guard for Wisconsin’s coaching staff, what to expect from the Badger squad as they visit Houghton, and much more.
Editor Note: You may have noticed I’m writing liners instead of being on the podcast this week. Tech Hockey Guide is always looking for people that are willing to write or edit. Please feel free to reach out if you would like to help!
The guys began this week’s edition of the podcast by talking about how things look different in Mankato East (Madison). Todd was quick to say that there is quite a lot different this year, not the least of which is the coaching staff with our old friend Mike Hastings. It seems as though Wisconsin is still having attendance issues, but Todd is willing to chalk that up to this weekend being a football weekend and Wisconsin hockey still building up to what it used to be. He suggested perhaps the school do some student outreach to get kids in the building, like intermission shootouts, free pizza, or a team meet-and-greet to try to kickstart the flow of fans back into the Kohl Center. Todd is totally on team “let the students in for free” in order to kickstart the energy in the building, and as fans of a school that does precisely this, the results are hard to disagree with!
Todd’s impression of the turnover to the new coaching staff is that, in a value neutral sense, they’re asking something different than the previous regime. For some players that’s been great, and for others, particularly ones that have been at Wisconsin for awhile, it can be a considerable ask to change up their routine. However, there is a lot of talent on this year’s Wisconsin team and he believes that they should be able to increase their win total this year. In terms of issues thus far, Wisconsin has been having discipline issues, hasn’t looked great on the powerplay, and have been on the penalty kill more often than Hastings probably would like. All in all, the Badgers did look like a team that was able to hang with North Dakota as one of the top dogs in college hockey
Whatever happened to Carson Bantle?
Former Tech player Carson Bantle’s career, in the words of Milewski, “has not been a straight line.” Tim commented that at the beginning of his journey, he would not have expected him to be playing 4th line minutes on any team, let alone a Badgers team that doesn’t have the world’s highest expectations. With that said, there’s not a lot of quit in him. He’s not afraid to go win corner battles and muck it out, but he hasn’t turned out to be the high-flying first line goal scorer we all expected him to be.
Fans should expect a physical but talented Wisconsin team in Houghton this weekend. With that said, they have a bit to figure out on the back end with their defense and goaltending being a “work in progress.” Tech won’t want to spend a lot of time in their own zone and if they make it into the Badgers’ zone, they should look to play a possession game. The guys also talked about the prospect of a Green Bay based showcase tournament that has been rumored, so stay tuned!
A Frustrating Weekend… To Say the Least
The guys talked about what went wrong for Tech this weekend and they seemed to agree that a lot of it was due to the fact that Tech is a young team, especially on the back end, that hasn’t quite gelled yet. We may have let the Swankler news tint our glasses early, but the Huskies still have plenty of time to make this team a success. However, we may regret the fact that we didn’t dip into the portal for a veteran defenseman, as we only have one veteran defenseman (Jed Pietila) on our roster. It was frustrating to watch to say the least, especially when the new Huskies clearly have so much talent.
It seems as though Tech had trouble making decisions with the puck. Tim also took some time to voice his frustration that Mercenkevics didn’t get nearly as much power play time as he feels he deserves, given that he seems like one of the team’s only true finishers and we scored 30 seconds into his first appearance. As Jordy Murray said, the effort is there and most of the errors being made are coachable errors rather than a skill or work ethic problem. Saturday seemed to be a much better day for the Huskies, getting better line arrangements, clicking more, and seeming more structured.
Around the CCHA
Around the league, UST looked great with a sweep that Dustin was able to catch in action. Tim says that if he was able to re-vote on the league standings, he would probably still have Lake State last, but he would put Bowling Green in 7th because they seem to be in legitimate shambles after a sweep by the hands of Augustana. Worst of all, he struggles to see how that changes with the coaching changes and personnel loss. What is going happening on their campus must be taking its toll as well. Mankato looked great with a sweep of St. Cloud, and Northern seemed to be completely unable to play defense against UMD. If they were actually a full member of the conference, Augustana would be in first place right now.
Early in the episode, Dustin was wondering if I wasn’t on the podcast because I didn’t want to defend my 30 win prediction. To him, I say this: It’s still early. There’s still time.
Cut for Time
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Matt Cavender graduated from Tech in 2018 and is a former President of Mitch's Misfits, serving two terms. Matt serves on the Tech Hockey Guide staff as Editor in Chief. He currently works as a Digital Marketing Specialist in Grand Rapids, MI