Would you believe me if I was to say that going into this weekend is only Week 7 of Michigan Tech Hockey? Tech finds themselves back at home after splitting with the Bemidji State Beavers facing off against the Ferris State Bulldogs. The Bulldogs make the trip into Houghton after being swept at home by Minnesota State.
The first thing to notice about this Bulldog team is how inconsistently consistent they are. So far this season they have managed to get some promising results against some decent teams in Miami (1-1) and Western (0-1-1) while dropping games to a lost NMU team while going into OT against Minnesota State. This leaves Bob Daniels’ team at 3-6-1 with all three wins coming in overtime. These Bulldogs are still in the process of a college level hockey rebuild as they are looking to return to their early 2010s glory which saw multiple NCAA bids from 2011-2016.
Looking at their top producers we find:
Their top scorers are a mix of class years which is good for team development, but their over depth isn’t looking great (though I did say the same thing about the Beavers and look at what happened in game two). The main issue that has been plaguing this Bulldogs team revolves around defense and goaltending. I don’t know why but Coach Daniels keeps giving Giesbrecht starts despite his performance this season posting only one good game against a lost NMU team. The trend appears to be to give Giesbrecht game one and Stein game two which sounds fine on paper when both players are performing as a 1a and 1b option. However, this is not the case with Stein vastly outperforming his counterpart to the point where I find it hard to justify the tandem strategy.
Looking to our instat data which only consists of game one due to FSU’s inability to submit game two in a timely manner we see:
Looking toward our Huskies we saw another offensive performance that lent itself to two wins against Augustana, but game two saw an incredible collapse not seen before in college hockey. After being up 4-0 in the first 35 mins of game two, the Huskies decided to forget what defense is allowing 6 unanswered goals to lose by a score or 6-4. Similarly to what Coach Daniels did with Giesbrecht, coach Shawhan refused to pull Blake who was beaten glove side and forced out of position multiple times resulting in BSU goals. Usually the Huskies’ goaltending robot is never beaten in side to side lateral movement but last Saturday was an exception.
It’s well known that it’s more or less up to Blake regarding if he wants to get pulled, but after allowing the Beavers to tie a change in net should probably have been made in hindsight. Additionally, the Huskies defensive corps still remains at the heart of problems facing their on ice results. These past four games have seen the offense doing their job averaging 4.5 goals a game which should be more than enough for any DI hockey team to pull out a win almost every time. However, the Tech defense and partly their goalie tandem has not been up to the task making games closer than they should be (see game two against both Augustana and Bemidji).
The biggest offender is the defense, they are single handedly responsible for 6 powerplay goals against this season due to penalties they’ve taken. Last weekend the Huskies took 11 of the 17 total calls resulting in BSU having way too many chances on the power play. This trend is partly understandable due to how young the defense is and how they’ll compensate by taking a call when either falling behind or out of position. At this point in the season we aren’t seeing much in the way of change though so the blame must be reassessed to the coaching staff regarding penalties. They are not ironing out the wrinkles and something needs to change.
Not all was lost last weekend though, we saw a good amount of depth scoring on Tech’s part in addition to a resurgence of Arvid Caderoth. He managed to turn on the scoring, breaking out for five points over both games. Hopefully he has found a grove and is able to continue to take advantage this weekend.
Keys to the Game
- Playing with the lead. So far this season, our Huskies have been otherworldly bad at playing with a lead. They just look uncomfortable while also not able to make much of anything happen. Hopefully a focus of practice this week was trying to settle things down and how to play while holding a lead.
Depth ScoringRepent for your sins. Tech is taking way too many penalties. They are currently 25th in the nation in PIMs. They need to stay out of the box or if they can’t they then need to improve their PK% as they are currently 60th in the country at 70.7%. This is unheard of in the Joe Shawhan era and something has got to give.
- Pile it on. If Tech faces off against Giesbrecht at any point this weekend they will need to show no mercy. One Stein sees the ice their chances of winning will drop dramatically. Ferris is a younger team and isn’t the best defensively again Tech will need to give a full 120 mins this weekend and not let the Bulldogs out work them.
If Ferris is going to win a game this weekend chances are it’ll be in overtime. I don’t see them being able to do that after losing to the likes of NMU and Miami who aren’t in the best of shape starting this season. I think the Huskies can explode offensively while also staying out of the box. MTU wins 4-2, MTU wins 4-1.
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), via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 7:07 ET. Game 2 will be Saturday at 6:07 ET.
*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.