Here we are Tech fans, this weekend of play opens up to our third month of Michigan Tech Hockey on the season. After a 0-4-3 October, our Huskies managed a 6-2-0 record in the month of November reaching that mythical .500 record at 6-6-3. As we enter December will we see yet another version of this team or more of what November has brought us? Only time will tell. What is certain though is that they face off against Bowling Green who have been following a similar trend after a brutal 1-5-0 start to the season managing a better 3-5-0 November. They make the trip to Houghton after splitting with the Northern Michigan
Mildcats Wildcats (6-7-1).
The biggest news out of this Bowling Green program is the departure of Austen Swankler in addition to the hazing accusations resulting in the suspension of head coach Ty Eigner and some players. Luckily for the Falcons and their fans, the dust has seemingly settled, resulting in all personnel making a return to the team allowing for a return to normal. They’ve had a rough start to the season between the aforementioned situation and departures from their team due to normal college circumstances (i.e. graduation, transfers, etc). The Falcons have finally started to catch their footing in the month of November.
Looking at their leading performers, we need to be aware that some players haven’t had enough games to make a significant impact yet:
The Falcons are being led by a good mix of upper and lower classmen with no surprise seeing O’Hara leading the flock. It is pretty impressive to see his production maintain its levels after losing supporting players like Swankler and Chase Gresock, who he was paired with last season. It goes to show just how dynamic that line was last season. BGSU was very top heavy last season; thus season is much different, seeing much more depth scoring though it has yet to yield much in the way of fruit in making up the lost scoring.
Looking at our Instat Data that Augie has so nicely prepared for us we see:
Northern was probably the better team on the weekend as a whole given the analytics, but their collapse in game one shows just how this BGSU team can pull out wins. If a team isn’t firing on all cylinders, the Falcons will take advantage and make them pay. That being said, they did perform very well on the weekend as a whole with the only downside being their few mistakes resulting in NMU goals.
Our Huskies will need to keep this in mind and not underestimate the Falcons this weekend. They may be riding high from their first ever program sweep in Mankato, but they need to make sure they are composed for this weekend as a loss to BGSU will be drastic as the Falcons sit at 61st (out of 64) in the Pairwise as of the writing of this preview. This is one of these lose-lose series for the Huskies as a win does nothing for them in the pairwise and a loss dramatically hurts them. In reality, the only thing of value are the CCHA standing points to our Huskies. Augie will be covering their time in Mankato in his recap, so I won’t go too into depth other than to say that this Huskies team is finally coming together and they still need to prove to us if they can maintain this course.
Keys to the Game
- Special Teams. Tech is still letting themselves and fans down on the PK this season. They are 61st in the country right now and something has got to give. BGSU’s penalty kill is the polar opposite at 12th in the country, so don’t expect Tech to score much on the power play.
- What if… If you were to go on CHN’s stat page for all teams and sort by shooting percentage you’ll notice something: Michigan Tech and Wisconsin are basically the same team with the exception of goaltending/defense more or less. It’s looking like our Huskies are finally starting figure things out and once they do. Watch out college hocke,y there will be a new top dog in the CCHA.
- Out of the box. This could be grouped with special teams, but it really does deserve its own spot. Huskies need to stay out of the box. Looking at last weekend gives a prime example of what they are capable of when their penalties are reduced to a non-factor. This is especially important for the defense they need to continue to clean it up.
This should be Tech’s series to lose. Other than Western, Tech will be BGSU’s toughest opponent so far. Given their easier schedule this season (KRACH has them at 59th over all in the NCAA), one would expect them to have a better go at it so far this season. If Tech doesn’t manage to sweep, they will need to recheck their path to success yet again. MTU wins 5-2, MTU wins 3-0.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions for this coming series against the Falcons.
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.