After a tumultuous season, our Michigan Tech Huskies have officially made it. They go into this weekend starting the single game elimination portion of their 2023-2024 campaign. From here on out the sport of college hockey is no longer the best team wins, but instead the hottest team wins. They face off against the Minnesota State Mavericks who managed a home sweep of the Northern Michigan Wildcats as the CCHA 4th seed. 


I would first like to go on the preview record and state we at THG (and the rest of Instat’s user base) still do not have access to Mankato’s series data against the Wildcats. This continues my certified tin foil hat theory that the Mavericks are purposely not publishing said data while having absolutely no proof. 

Anyways, back to the preview! 

The Mavericks have stalled fairly dramatically since they last played the Huskies. They managed a 3-3 record which includes their playoff games. Their .500 record is as a result deceiving as they lost a game to the Lakers and were swept by the Beavers showing that the Hastingless Mavericks are human and thus beatable as they had close games against the Wildcats who were anemic to end their season. 

Looking at their top performers we see: 

With the exceptions of Murr and Eisele, all of their top scorers are upperclassmen showing how important experience is in the sport of college hockey. Additionally, both net minders have been more or less identical with the exception of their records. They will be much better than what our Huskies saw last week against Bowling Green, though they are not unstoppable as BSU has proven two weeks ago. The key will be for our Huskies to continue playing the type of hockey they have been since game two against St. Thomas. 

The biggest question isn’t really how Mankato is going to play as they have been pretty consistent all season, it’s going to be more so how our Huskies will play. As we go into this weekend Tech is full of unknowns. Injuries are still a problem with Swankler and Kyle Kukkonen still being out (as far as we know). While getting Campbell and Koskipirtti back is big, we currently don’t know how banged up they still are. 

Finally, the biggest question between these two teams is going to be depth. Tech has a deeper top end pool to draw from, but Mankato has a better point distribution and historical context this season for their bottom six. The Huskies have leaned heavily on players like Bronte, Richartz, Bartle, and Rasmussen with positive results these past two weeks. Whether or not they will be able to keep with the Mavericks will be their toughest test yet with any other subsequent game after this weekend (if they win) being even harder. 

Keys to the Game

  1. They don’t ask how. This is playoff hockey and Tech is now in a single game elimination format from here on out. Systems are going to break down and each game is going to be a mess. The best team is not going to win. All the Huskies have to be is better than the Mavericks for most of each period this weekend. Mistakes are going to be made and ugly hockey will ensue. 
  2. In Blake we trust. Blake is going to be the lynchpin from here on out. If the offense can keep up with its current pace in the month of March (averaging 4.25 goals a game), he will be able to keep opponents to under 3 goals a game at least (assuming decent defense). Take away the Mankato angles and passes and let him do the rest. 
  3. Depth wins games. The depth players will need to continue their play, but this means the coach staff needs to continue letting them play. Against the Falcons they did a good job giving guys ice time and they were rewarded with a sweep. Don’t dress a player if they are only going to see 2 mins or less of ice time. 

My Prediction

This preview isn’t based too much on analytics as we just didn’t have access. Tech is the favorite based on seeding, but I say it’s really anyone’s game given the format. If it were a series I see the Huskies managing to take two games. However with a one game series the odds of something weird happening grows significantly. I hope Tech is able to continue their season, but I could very well see them ending it this weekend. MTU wins 4-3. 

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

All games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via* (paywall) for video. This single game series will be Saturday at 5:07 ET .

* 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.