Four Points in Anchorage, Huskies look on to Fairbanks
The start of every Alaska trip has been rough for the Huskies lately. To start this year's trip, the Seawolves put MTU through two games which were tougher than one might expect from an opponent with a 1-9-0 record and the nationally-worst offense coming into the weekend. Friday, Tech jumped out to an early lead with two unanswered goals in the first and outshooting Alaska - Anchorage 14 to 2 in the process. Tech ended the game with a 31 to 18 shot advantage.
While the Huskies were starting strong, Anchorage took some momentum back early into the 2nd with a short handed goal by Mason Mitchell (So., F - UAA) and Tech never really gained their full force again. The Huskies went 0-for-6 on the power play on Friday, receiving many penalties themselves to counteract the man advantage.
Alex Smith (Fr., F - MTU) finally put the game-winning goal in at 10:14 in the 3rd. The goal developed from a two-on-one breakaway with Matt Roy (Jr., D - MTU) and Shane Hanna (Sr., D - MTU). Roy pinged the crossbar on the first attempt which looked like a good goal itself, but the Huskies had four skaters down to continue the play and Smith put the puck home from a tight angle to take the lead.
Overtime Loss Stings Saturday
With the Seawolves having not won a conference point coming into the weekend, it seemed realistic that the Huskies could take all six conference points in Anchorage. Saturday's game was therefore frustrating to many Huskies fans. While Tech did out shoot the Seawolves 35 to 21 on the night, the Black and Gold were not in the offensively dominant Saturday form we have typically seen this season. It was not until part way through the second that rising star Gavin Gould (Fr., F - MTU) scored MTU's lone goal on the power play off the rebound of a Matt Roy bomb from the point.
Saturday's game could be viewed through one of two lenses: either as a game where the Huskies could not find the back of the net or as a goaltender duel. Olivier Mantha (So.,G - UAA) hasn't been as solid in net during his sophomore campaign as the Seawolves had hoped coming off his UAA-record .911 save percentage his freshman season. He did however stand tall to the the Husky barrage this weekend with 34 saves Saturday for a total of 64 on the weekend. Angus Redmond (Fr., G - MTU), for his part, stopped 20 of 21 Alaska-Anchorage shots on Saturday, including two near the end of the third to keep the game tied.
THG Three Stars of the Weekend:
- Joel L'Esperance (Jr., F - MTU) (1G, 1A and team-high 10 SOG over the weekend)
- Alex Smith (1GWG, 1A Friday)
- Angus "Beef" Redmond (1.5GAA, 36 saves over the weekend (including the two beauties shown above)).
Tech in the Rankings
The Huskies are still on the USCHO.com Division 1 Men's Poll with two points. Tech ranks 28th nationally in the Pairwise, but sits somewhat comfortably at #2 in the WCHA Standings with 21 conference points (BSU, in 1st, is at 35pts. MSU, in 3rd, is at 16 points). MTU ranks as the 14th-best Power Play in the nation. Three Huskies were given WCHA Player of the Week Honorable Mention including Joel L'Esperance, Matt Roy and Gavin Gould for offensive, defensive and rookie of the week, respectively. Angus Redmond is 5th in the nation in Goals Against Average.
Important Insight from Around the WCHA
#9 Northern Michigan at #1 Bemidji State
Friday: 1-2, Saturday: 2-5
The Bemidji State Beavers are still going strong with two wins this weekend against a struggling Northern Michigan. Michael Bitzer (Jr., G - BSU) continued to dominate in net, and still boasts a 1.35 GAA on the season (second-best nationally, but realistically best in the nation). Some familiar forwards lit up the score sheets over the weekend as well including Brendan Harms (Sr., F - BSU) who had six points on the weekend (1G, 5A) and the Fitzgerald triplets (Jr., F - BSU, all three of them) who contributed an additional three goals.
Good News for Huskies Fans: Tech has generating better offense than earlier in the season, even including this previous weekend.
Bad News for Huskies Fans: Tech has to be ready for this team when the Huskies return from Alaska.