What happened last weekend?
The Michigan Tech Huskies traveled to Bowling Green State to face the Falcons. On Friday night, the Huskies jumped all over the hosts early and often. Grabbing a four-goal lead in the second period, the Huskies cruised to a 5-2 victory. On Saturday, it was the Falcons who jumped out to an early 2-0 lead. Sophomore Malcolm Gould cut the lead in half, sparking the Huskies. After falling behind by two again, 3-1, the Huskies stormed back with a pair of third period goals followed by another in overtime to grab a 5-4 win and the sweep.
The Alabama-Huntsville Chargers traveled up to Fairbanks to face the Alaska Nanooks. The WCHA’s basement dwellers skated away from the opening period trailing 2-1, but could not get any closer as the Nanooks struck four more times over the final 40 minutes to grab a 6-1 win. On Saturday night, the Nanooks jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one period. After the Nanooks extended that lead to three, the Chargers cut the lead to two. Unfortunately that was as close as they could get, as the Nanooks struck three more times in the third en route to a 6-1 win.
Two for the price of one
Thanks to their strong efforts in helping with the sweep, junior David Johnstone and freshman Shane Hanna were named the WCHA’s Offensive Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively.
Johnstone scored three goals and one assists, including two on Friday night, registered two blocked shots and finished the weekend +1.
“It’s good to see David back,” said head coach Mel Pearson.
Hanna notched three helpers on Friday night and quarterbacked the power play, which struck twice on Saturday. Hanna finished the weekend a +3 with three blocked shots.
“Obviously Shane had a good week,” said Pearson. “He’s really helping our power play and our offense.”
From powerless to powerful in a matter of a weekend
One area of their game that has plagued the Huskies all season has been their powerless power play. Operating slightly better than 10% coming into last weekend, the Huskies’ man advantage exploded, going three-for-10, including the game-winner on Saturday night.
Two players have made a huge impact on what the Huskies are trying to accomplish, David Johnstone and freshman Reid Sturos.
With five goals and seven points since returning to the lineup, the younger Johnstone has proved that his ability to spark the Huskies’ offense. His first goal Friday night came on a one-timer on the power play. His lone goal on Saturday came on a five-on-three.
“Having David back and healthy really helps your power play,” said Pearson. “Not many guys can shoot the puck the way he does. He’s a goal scorer. We’ve missed him.”
Sturos has really come into his own since earning a regular spot in the lineup. Over the last eight games, Sturos has notched eight points. Besides becoming a point-per-game player, Sturos has become a key component of the power play, causing traffic in front of opposing goalies as well as completing some key passes.
“We talked about that a lot with Reid,” said Pearson. “I think earlier in the year he was just trying to get in the lineup. Once he got in the lineup, he started working hard. He’s a big body, someone who can play big and take the goalie’s eyes away.”
Senior forward Jacob Johnstone could have just as easily won the WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors thanks to three key goals he scored over the weekend. The elder Johnstone struck late in the second period Friday night before netting a pair in the third Saturday. Both goals tied the game, giving the Huskies a chance to earn the sweep.
“He’s been skating well, he’s been playing well,” said Pearson. “He’s just been snake bit there around the net. He scored on his opportunities. Going forward, I think he has a chance to have a good finish for us here. ”
Did we hear Malcolm Gould scored twice?
With the Huskies up 1-0 Friday night, Gould flew up the rink in order to take a pass from sophomore C.J. Eick to give the Huskies a two-goal lead. On Saturday, his goal was key to sparking the visitors as the Huskies trailed 2-0.
“Malcolm had that big chance against Ferris that really could have sparked our team,” said Pearson. “He did at Bowling Green, we’re down 2-0, big time goal, big time shot. Not many guys on our team or in the league can do that.”
A Deeper look at the Chargers
It is no surprise that the Chargers sit at the bottom of the new-look WCHA. A team without a conference since the dissolution of the College Hockey America conference three seasons ago, the Chargers have struggled to just one victory. That one victory, however, came at Bowling Green back on Dec. 7.
“They are better than their record indicates,” said Pearson. “They are scrappy. They are a hard-working team. I think that’s what has kept them in games.”
Freshman Matt Salhany leads the Chargers in scoring with four goals and 11 points. A pair of sophomore defensemen have also done well offensively. Frank Misuaraca has two goals and seven points while Steven Koshey has one goal and six points.
The Chargers have a pair of freshmen patrolling the crease. Carmine Guerriero has had the better luck, going 1-13-0 overall with a 3.86 goals against average. Matt Larose is 0-13-1 overall with a 5.00 goals against average.
This weekend’s games will be at 7:07 p.m. on Friday and 5:07 p.m. Saturday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.