Huskies Escape Huntsville with Five WCHA Points
This weekend, the Michigan Tech Huskies earned a 5-2 regulation win and a 5-4 shoot out victory against the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. On Friday, Tech dominated two and a half periods of play, before allowing the Chargers to make a game of it midway through the third. The UAH surge continued into the beginning of Saturday's game, when the Black and Gold went down 2-0 before fighting back to tie three separate times and eventually win in the shootout. The Huskies have now earned 12 WCHA points in 2017 and are now within striking distance of the #1 Bemidji State Beavers, only four points back.
Tech Dominates Shot Differential
Generally considered a good gauge of time of possession and offensive power, the shot differential over this past weekend significantly favored the Huskies. Tech out-shot UAH to the tune of 71-46 over the weekend. The first two periods of Friday's contest were truly one-sided; MTU scored four straight to start the game, but let up slightly in the third, when the shot total tilted back slightly toward Alabama-Huntsville. Tech put up 27 shots to Huntsville's 7 over the first two periods, with 14-1 coming in the second.
While the Huskies only scored one goal with the significant second period shot advantage, the one goal they did score was the eventual game-winner, short-handed and off a nice play by Mike Neville (Sr., F) to the stick of Reid Sturos (Sr., F) for the deflection. It was the first of two Sturos shorty goals on the night. The second was the final nail in the coffin for UAH, coming short handed with an empty net at 18:41 in the 3rd. Sturos was awarded WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
A breakdown of shot statistics for the 2016-2017 season so far:
- The Huskies now have 1030 shots on goal, second-most nationally.
- Tech averages 32.2 shots on goal per game, down slightly from an average of 33.5 in 2015-2016.
- MTU has 2001 shot attempts in 2016-17, more than any other team in the country.
- The Huskies average 56.4% of shot attempts (2001 for and 1549 against), the sixth highest nationally.
Statistics from collegehockeynews.com. Note that the Huskies have played 32 games with the majority of other teams having played 28.
Nine Rounds of Shoot Out Leads to MTU Win and Two WCHA Points
Alabama-Huntsville came out on Saturday still climbing off their two goal third period Friday night. The Chargers found a way to take an early two goal lead and continued to play keep away with the lead after Matt Roy (Jr., D) put two in the net to tie. UAH took the lead twice more, until finally at 18:49 in the third, Jake Lucchini (So., F) tied the game for the third and last time.
In the shootout, the Huskies and Chargers went nine scoreless rounds before Chris Gerrie (Fr., F) found a way to beat Jordan Uhelski (Jr., G - UAH). No UAH skater was able to beat Angus Redmond (Fr., G) and many missed the net entirely. Perhaps this was partially due to the perception of Redmond. The mentality of having to hit an upper corner to get by him may have led many Charger skaters to aim wide.
Depending on how it was viewed, the Huskies either escaped without losing, or fought back several times to eventually earn the extra point. Regardless, the Huskies did earn five of six total WCHA points on the weekend. The Black and Gold are only four points behind Bemidji State, in great position to take 1st place in the WCHA when MTU goes to Bemidji next weekend.
Reminder Note: WCHA Overtime Rules
The WCHA Points system is a slight variation of the NHL system. Unlike the NHL, there are always three points awarded for each game, regardless of game length or OT.
- Three points are awarded to the winner when game finishes in regular time or first OT.
- Two points are awarded to the winner when game finishes in second (3-on-3) OT or shoot out.
- One point is awarded to the loser when game finishes in second (3-on-3) OT or shoot out.
THG Three Stars of the Weekend
- Reid Sturos (2G, 1A) — Sturos scored two short handed goals in Friday's contest. While the second will go down as an empty net goal, it stopped the Charger surge. Sturos was also consistently involved in plays throughout the weekend, including earning the first assist on the Jake Lucchini goal with 0:11 left to send Saturday's game to overtime.
- Gavin Gould (1G, 3A) — Gould (Fr., F) had a terrific weekend, earning four points over the weekend including a power play goal Friday, MTU's first of three on the weekend.
- Jake Lucchini (1G) — Lucchini had one very important goal at 19:49 in the third of Saturday's game to tie and send the game to OT. In his Sophomore campaign, Lucchini leads all Huskies with 10 goals (L'Esperance is next with seven).
Honorable mention: Matt Roy (2G, 1A) — Roy had 2G on Saturday night to bring MTU back into the game and initially tie with UAH. Roy, the LA Kings draftee, leads all d-men in points this season. Roy had 8 shots on goal Friday, double any other skater on either team.
MTU in the Rankings
The Huskies regained top-20 status in the USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll. Tech received 73 points in the poll and could move up further with wins against Bemidji State next weekend. Tech is at #27 in the Pairwise Ranking System, the highest ranked WCHA team. MTU is #2 in the WCHA Standings with 48 points, but rank #1 in the THG WCHA Web Media Poll. Reid Sturos was awarded WCHA Offensive Player of the Week, which is the second time he has held the honor in the 2016-2017 season.
Cover photo courtesy: Ryan Johnson (January 26th, 2017).