Our Michigan Tech Huskies find themselves in upstate New York this weekend doing a split series with the St. Lawrence Skating Saints and the Clarkson Golden Knights. Both programs have struggled to open up their seasons though have found some success in the win column, unlike our Huskies. Tech will be searching for their first win of the season and hopefully gain some pairwise comparisons out of the CCHA.
First, we’ll take a look at the Saints. They enter into this season trying to bounce back from a 17-19 record just a year prior. So far they have taken some steps in the right direction playing strong teams and managing to take a win against a preseason chosen team top team in RIT. However, they find themselves on a three game losing streak to a set of strong opponents in Penn State and Merrimack. The Saints are trying to right the ship and our Huskies look like the perfect team to accomplish this task as they have had a hard time adjusting to the college game. Looking at their top scorers we see:
Their offensive numbers aren’t half bad, but it’s defense and goaltending where things start to fall apart. Though when comparing to our Huskies they aren’t so different with our Huskies averaging 3.40 goals against and SLU is at 3.75 goal against. In fact they Tech in goals for (2.00 vs MTU’s 1.8) and are relatively even in special teams with Tech having the better powerplay after last weekend but worse penalty kill.
Looking at our instat data…
THG’s Augie has sadly had some TECHnical difficulties this week due to some internal instat errors. So we’ll just have to live with an older style of preview until he’s able to irony out the issues.
The moral of the story with St. Lawrence is to expect some scoring while a decent chance that Tech will be able to put some points up too.
Moving on to Clarkson we see a much different story. The Golden Knights are more skilled and have a high upside than the Saints. They have taken a game from a relatively strong Notre Dame team while also winning against teams they should like Vermont. Looking at their top skaters we see:
The biggest difference between St. Lawrence and Clarkson are going to the goaltending and as a direct result defense. Austin Roden is going to be the best netminder the Huskies will see all weekend. This will be a more even match up as Tech and Clarkson are more or less equivalent teams with our Huskies just having a harder schedule as of this week.
Speaking of our Huskies, it has been a rough go of it so far this season. They are still looking for their first win of the season. After seeing the Badgers take a decisive win against the Minnesota Golden Gophers last night it makes most Tech fans feel better as they are clearly a better team than anyone expected. However, it doesn’t remove the sting of that series as the Huskies find themselves down one forward as Patriks Marcinkevics has left the program. Right now all we know is what the Daily Mining Gazette has reported in that he is leaving to go pro back in his home country of Latvia. Either way, his presence is going to be missed and it will be up to the coaching staff to find the next man up.
The one thing this Tech team is going to need is depth scoring and for the young defense to finally settle into the college game. Though in saying this makes me sound like a broken record at this point, the fact of the matter is this team just needs time to percolate and find themselves. The Huskies need more scoring and better discipline in the D zone.
Keys to the Game
- Depth Scoring. Tech top end talent has had small issues getting on the score sheet, while the rest of the lineup has been non-existent. Logan Pietila has 33% of the Huskies goals so far this season and that desperately needs to change.
- Composure. The Huskies’ D corps is learning on the job so it’s expected that there will be growing pains, but they are also leading the team in PIMs. Chase Pietila is the biggest offender with Nick Williams and Kasper Vaharautio also up there. Playing with an edge is good, but it needs to be within the bounds of the rules. Once you leave that realm you are only hurting your team especially when Tech has a 73.3% PK%. Stay out of the box.
- Give ‘em a Break. This slogan both applies to construction workers doing road work and the Michigan Tech goalie corps. Blake has been the only thing preventing this Huskies team from looking like a DIII team in these past few weeks. Max will be forced to do the same, assuming Coach Shawhan sticks to his plan of giving him at least two starts in the near future. Tech’s goalies currently have a massive amount of work cut out for them due to an anemic offense and an average at best defense.
This weekend should be at least one win for sure against the Saints with Clarkson being more of a toss up. As of right now though, I don’t see this being the case. Our Huskies have yet to prove to me that they are capable of winning. Hopefully they prove me wrong, but I see the suffering continuing. SLU wins 4-1, Clarkson wins 3-2.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Saints and Golden Knights.
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 ESPN+ (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 7:0 Est. Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:30 EST.
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.