Much has happened to the landscape of college hockey since Mel Pearson took over as Head Coach of the Michigan Tech hockey team. Five WCHA teams, along with the Miami-Ohio of the CCHA, announced their intentions to leave and form a new conference, the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). To fill these vacancies, Northern Michigan's application to return to the WCHA was accepted. However, none of these changes will happen until the 2013-14 season, let's focus on some of the questions Tech fans want to know about, such as what is happening with the returning players, incoming players, and on the recruiting trail.
Pearson's first action on the recruiting trail was to sign up Jimmy Davis, a product of Michigan's East Kentwood High School. The young prospect certainly has potential, and it will be interesting to watch him grow as a Husky. Joining Jimmy as freshman students at Michigan Tech this fall will be Nick Cecere, Blake Pietila, Tanner Kero, David Johnstone, Riley Sweeney, and Justin Fillion. Despite rumors to the contrary, Cecere will be playing for the Huskies this coming season. Justin Fillion, on the other hand, still has some work to do off the ice to make that happen. We wish him the best of luck in making that happen and hope to see him available for Coach Pearson as soon as the Great Lakes Invitational this winter.
Riley Sweeney was just announced on Heisenberg's 2011 List on August 12, a great pick-up for Michigan Tech this late in the recruiting season. Pearson mentioned another commitment coming soon during a radio spot earlier this week, and I think this pick-up is right on the mark. After losing Sam Labrecque to Clarkson due to his decommitment after Jamie Russell's resignation, MTU picks up a younger, taller defenseman that managed a similar if not better stat line, 10-28-38 to Labrecque's 15-12-27, in the BCHL. Of the potential targets mentioned soon after Mel's radio spot, Sweeney was one of the top 3 available players. Here's to hoping a few more players from that list of targets end up wearing the black and gold.
In other incoming player news, Chad Pietila transferred from arch rival Northern Michigan to Michigan Tech at mid-year. Chad chose to sit out the Spring & Fall 2011 semesters and will be eligible to hit the ice for the first time as a Husky at the GLI, a small price to pay to share the ice with his cousin, Aaron and younger brother, Blake. His career at Michigan Tech will last 3 semesters, and will end with the conclusion of the 2012-13 season.
Finally, Tyler Heinonen has verbally committed to Michigan Tech for either 2012 or 2013. Heinonen is a very raw talent from Delano/Rockford HS, and led all Minnesota high school players in points and finished 3rd in goals. Heinonen has a huge upside, but will have to work on making his game more well-rounded as well as learning how to play at a high level against a higher level of talent for Muskegon (USHL) this season. Even with Heinonen's commitment, it is believed that Michigan Tech will announce another commitment before the end of August. Pearson and the Huskies are probably done recruiting for 2011-12 now, with the depth they've created by adding Davis and Sweeney, so look for this new recruit to be for 2012 or beyond. All in all, these are mostly positive developments for a program that needs to keep things positive as it heads in a new direction under Pearson.
Front Page image courtesy of MNHockeyHub