Huskies play two solid games, take six points from Fairbanks
Scoring by Committee
While Tech has no one single Jack Eichel-type superstar, or even a Tanner Kero-type star, the Huskies are managing to score with a variety of skaters when needed in order to get wins lately. This past Friday in Tech's 4-1 victory over Alaska, four separate players netted a goal for the Huskies, and only Jake Lucchini (So., F) had more than one point. When Alaska netted their lone goal on the power play midway through the first period Friday, Tyler Heinonen (Sr., F - MTU) answered within the next minute. Tech scored three more unanswered including an empty-net goal by the defenseman-turned-forward Chris Leibinger (Sr., D) to put the game away late in the third. Leibinger has seven points (5G, 2A) on the year and is drawing attention to how well he is adapting to his new role.
Saturday saw two different Huskies light the lamp. Continuing with their unanswered scoring in Fairbanks, the Huskies put two past Jesse Jenks (So., G - UAF) before Alaska could break Angus "Beef" Redmond (Fr., G - MTU). Shane Hanna (Sr., D - MTU) scored his fifth goal of the season, and is among Leibinger, Lucchini and L'Esperance (Jr., F) as Tech's five-plus-goal scorers. The other goal came off the stick of Brent Baltus (Sr., F)
With the questioned emphasis on the defensive core of the Huskies, we should take a step back nine weeks into the season to see how the Huskies have rebounded. Of Tech's top ten scorers this season, five are listed as defensemen (including Leibinger, who often skates as a forward), including three true defensemen with 10+ points on the season making the top five. Tech now ranks 10th in scoring defense, with just 41 goals allowed in 18 games (2.28 GAA). What is more impressive, however, is the shot differentials in the recent WCHA league series. Tech out shot Alaska 61-50 over this past weekend, Alaska-Anchorage 66-39 a week ago, and Lake State 77-45 the week prior. These differentials are directly correlated to the defensive core of the Huskies playing the right way.
Huskies Still Taking Penalties
Nine weeks into the season, Tech received nine penalties for 18 minutes both nights in Fairbanks. While Friday saw many of the MTU penalties quickly be offset by Alaska penalties, the Huskies saw many power play opportunities cut short on Saturday due to offsetting embellishment calls or penalties quickly into the power play. This culture of penalties and four-on-four may be the new WCHA, but the Huskies will need to be more disciplined when they face higher-caliber teams. Bemidji State, for example, receives only 8.7 penalty minutes per game, the lowest in the nation. Tech ranks ninth in most penalty minutes per game nationwide, at 17.6 penalty minutes per game.
Despite the 15 power play opportunities that Tech offered Fairbanks over the weekend, the Husky penalty kill was up for the challenge. The Black and Gold killed 14 of the 15 Nanook power plays (93.3%).
Angus Redmond leads all NCAA Division I Goaltenders in Goals Against Average
Angus Redmond has settled in nicely as the Huskies' chief goaltender. In his 10 starts, he has amassed an 8-1-1 record and is tied for 1st among Division I goaltenders with a 1.46 goals against average. In Fairbanks, Redmond saw a combined 50 shots, only allowing 2 goals. Redmond was awarded the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
The other goalie tied for 1st nationally? Tech's next opponent, Bemidji State's Michael Bitzer (Jr.).
THG Three Stars of the Weekend:
- Angus Redmond - 48 saves, 1 GAA, .960 sv% over the weekend. He has also set down the goaltending question and earned the top spot on goals against average nationwide.
- Jake Lucchini - 1 GWG, 1 A on Friday. The sophomore now has 9 points on the season.
- Reid Sturos (Sr., F) - 2 A on the weekend. Sturos has quietly amassed 9 points on the season.
Huskies in the Polls
The Huskies are sitting comfortably at #2 in the WCHA standings with 27 league points. Tech is out of reach of Bowling Green who is sitting at 20 points, but the Falcons have two games in hand on MTU. Tech could make up significant ground on Bemidji State this weekend, who are sitting in first with 35 points. The Huskies received more votes on the USCHO.com Division 1 Men's Poll this week, rising up to 10 votes on the "others receiving votes" tab, but will need about 140 votes to break back into the top 20 of this poll.
In the PairWise Ranking System, Tech has continued to march toward the field of 16, but are still outside looking in at position 25. Losses this past weekend by WCHA teams such as Bemidji State impacted Tech's once-high position of #24 on the weekend. The Huskies have future games which may propel them further in the PWR: Bemidji State (#15), Notre Dame (#13t) and a potential matchup against Western Michigan (#4) at the GLI could all be very important games to Tech's PWR prospects.
Angus Redmond was awarded WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for his 1 GAA and his .960 save percentage over the weekend. Reid Sturos was awarded WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honorable mention for his two assists on the weekend (one each night).