Weekend Wrap Up: WCHA Playoff Semifinals

Huskies Take Two of Three, Head to WCHA Championship Game

Tech powered past Minnesota State in a three-game semifinal series at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena this weekend. Gavin Gould (Fr., F) had four goals on the weekend, including a hat trick in Sunday's 4-1 win, to send the Huskies to the WCHA Championship game. On the other side of the ice, Angus Redmond (Fr., G), did his job and only allowed three goals in three games.

It just feels really good to produce something like that for the seniors. Especially in a do-or-die game, you want to do whatever it takes for them.
— Gavin Gould, commenting on his hat trick in Sunday's game (Mar 12th., 2017)

In the preview for this weekend, we speculated that this may be the opportunity MTU needs to overcome their struggles with Minnesota State, and to exorcise those demons so to speak. It looks like they were able to do that, on the backs of a couple of freshmen.

With the victory, the Huskies are only one win away from a bid to the NCAA tournament.

Home Ice Turns into Big Advantage

The Huskies ended the 2016-2017 season 3-4 against the Minnesota State Mavericks. All three of those wins were at home. Overall, the Huskies are 11-4-4 at home this year, with a 10-9-3 record away, so playing on home ice had a huge role in Tech's ability to grind their way out of the three game semifinal round.

When the WCHA announced that the playoffs would return to top-seeded campuses, I, like many, was afraid that those home-ice arenas would be empty; the Battle for the Broadmoor does in fact coincide with spring breaks across the country, so the large student crowd would be absent from these games. I thought my fear had come true Friday, as the total attendance at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena Friday was a lowly 2,015 (whereas Senior Night vs. NMU hosted 3,689).

I'll eat my words now. With students trickling in from spring break throughout the weekend, Sunday's game was louder and way more energetic than any semifinal game I attended at the Xcel Energy Center. Now, with the Broadmoor Championship game next Saturday against BGSU, the Mac is set for perhaps the largest and most meaningful game which can be played there. As far as the Huskies are concerned, the WCHA playoff restructure appears to be a huge success.

Redmond In Playoff Form

After entering the playoffs, Angus Redmond has returned to the form we saw of him earlier in the season. Since being pulled in the Huskies 6-4 victory over Lake Superior State, the freshman net-minder has allowed just three goals in his last four games. Redmond held the Mavericks to just three goals over three games, and would have had a shutout Sunday if it hadn't been for one fluke goal from the red line. The Mavericks averaged 3.05 goals per game this season. Redmond now boasts a 1.78 goals against average and a 91.1 save percentage, and was awarded WCHA All-Rookie Team Honors for his phenomenal season to date. 

THG Three Stars of the Weekend:

  1. Gavin Gould (Fr., F) - 4G on the weekend, including a hat trick Sunday to propel the Huskies to the WCHA Championship game. Gould leads all Husky Freshmen with 22 points on the season.
  2. Angus Redmond (Fr., G) - 1 GAA and 64 saves on 67 shots over the weekend (95.6 SV%). Redmond went through a rough patch toward the end of the season, but appears to be playing in solid playoff condition now.
  3. Mark Auk (Jr., D) - 1G, 3A on the weekend. Auk was +2 on the weekend, among the highest on the Huskies. Mark is looking to become a defensive leader next year and has 23 points (5G, 18A) in the 2016-2017 season.

What Else Happened This Weekend?

#4 Bowling Green State at #1 Bemidji State

Friday: 4-3 BGSU (OT), Saturday: 2-1 BGSU

Earlier in the season, the Bemidji State Beavers were unstoppable. They won 13 straight conference games and were the clear favorites to win the WCHA. With the BGSU Falcons upsetting them with the sweep this weekend, it is amazing to think how concerned the Huskies were to keep up with the Beavers. Kevin Dufour (Sr., F - BGSU) had his own hat trick for the Falcons Friday, and contributed an additional goal Saturday to match Gavin Gould's four goals over the weekend. Chris Nell (Jr,. G - BGSU) saw 74 shots on the weekend and stopped 70 (94.6 SV%)

The national rankings do not mean much for the Huskies' chances to make the tournament, Tech's one shot will be through the Bowling Green State Falcons on Saturday. However, Tech is making some motion in the rankings. Tech now has 27 poll points in the USCHO.com Men's Division I Poll and are #28 in the PairWise Ranking System. Note that the Falcons are down at #37. Four Huskies were awarded All-WCHA honors including defensemen Matt Roy and Shane Hanna on the first and second teams, respectively. Mitch Reinke and Angus Redmond were awarded All-Rookie team honors.

Cover Photo credit Bob Gilreath (Mar 12th, 2017)