As we enter into the holiday season, our Michigan Tech Huskies are on the road for this Thanksgiving in Mankato Minnesota taking on the Mavericks. Mankato found themselves splitting with the Bemidji State Beavers in what turned out to be a barn burner of the series.
This Mankato team saw the biggest amount of turnover going into this CCHA season with the departure of head coach Mike Hastings; assistant coach Todd Knott; and forwards Christian Fitzgerald, David Silye, and Simon Tassy. These losses don’t include the typical college hockey turnover from players leaving the program for other reasons. All things added up, the Mavericks lost a combined 14 people with 12 of them being players.
This is an insane amount of losses and the lost production totals back this up. The Mavericks have lost 91 goals and 161 assists for 252 total points. The only saving grace has been the few players that decided to stay for a 5th season in Lucas Sowder and Sam Morton. Additionally, they managed to keep their goalie corps with Alex Tracy being this year’s starter, winning out against last season’s starter Keenan Rancier.
Looking at their top players these season we see:
Luckily the Mavericks point distribution hasn’t been too bad. They have 5+ players at 0.50 points per game or more while their netminders have been pretty serviceable this season. Given the amount of production lost over the off season this is more than acceptable for a rebuilding Mavericks team.
This week marks the return (again) of our Instat plots with Augie having data available in a timely manner. Looking at last weekend’s match up we have:
Game one was more or less a typical game one would expect when playing the Mavericks of old. They would limit the Beavers to taking shots from the outside part of the zone while managing to make most of their own high danger chances. However, game two was a different story in that the expected defensive play expected of CCHA hockey would be non-existent.
The first period alone would see 8 goals scored between both teams with Mankato having a 5-3 lead. The Mavericks would then implode similarity to our Huskies during their last trip to Bemidji. The Beavers would score four more goals in the 2nd and 3rd periods to earn a 7-6 victory. Both teams allowed a few very low quality goals and game two was more of an offensive showcase rather than a typical defense-first CCHA game. One thing is certain though, this will be the weakest MnSU team Tech will see in at least the last decade or more.
Speaking of our Huskies, I can once again send you over to THG’s Augie who was able to put together a recap of the Ferris series! The biggest takeaway is that our Huskies are starting to turn their play around while still having some growing pains. Game one I would argue is the result of the refs not calling a consistent game. Despite what others will say, I still find myself in the camp that Logan Pietila was tripped in overtime and the refs missed an important call. Game two was better from both a Tech and ref perspective though Tech still suffered from not being able to stay out of the box.
Keys to the Game
- Stay out of the box. The Huskies continue to have the 2nd worst PK in the nation going into this weekend. They really need to either find a way to better control their opponent’s powerplay or not even give them the chance to have one.
- Two for the price of one. I am still in the mindset that Coach Shawhan should rotate goalies on the weekend. Blake is still trying to find himself back to last year’s form while Max is a very viable option and needs game experience. One thing is for certain though, the Huskies netminders appear to be missing former goalie coach Jamie Phillips right now.
- Keep rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, rollin’. The Huskies will need all four lines for this match up. Mankato is beatable from a depth perspective this season and the Huskies really only need to worry about 1 line and one pairing of players.
I think given the results of last weekend, Tech is more than capable of sweeping the series. However, they are still waiting for players to wake up this season. Most notably, Kyle Kukkonen has had a very slow start to the season with only 5 assists in 13 games. He will figure things out, but the Huskies need his production sooner rather than later. I see Tech most likely getting a split. MTU wins 4-3, Mankato wins 3-1.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Mavericks.
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 8:07 ET. Game 2 will be Saturday at 7:07 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.