The Michigan Tech Huskies (2-1-0) enter the first weekend of WCHA play with high spirits. Likely the afterthought of the Ice Breaker at least in the eyes of national writers (I do not mind bragging in saying I predicted MTU would beat Duluth), the Huskies rolled through Union College and Minnesota-Duluth to win the season’s first trophy. This weekend they head to Sault Ste. Marie to play Lake Superior State (1-1-0) in two games.
Michigan Tech is going to have high expectations for quite a while after beating two of the sport’s most prominent programs. They accomplished the feat on the back of a fearsome power play that went 4/10 on the weekend. The difference maker was scoring on both ends of a 5-on-3 while trailing 2-0 in the championship game. The Huskies responded as well as anyone could ask when they allowed the first goal in the opening minute. MTU controlled enough of the play (the Bulldogs outshot Tech 36-16) to earn some power plays and capitalized on them. This was a team that scored only 19% of the time on the power play, barely in the top half of the country. If last weekend’s outburst turns out to be a harbinger of things to come, we could see much more offense.
Reigning NCAA player of the week Mark Auk is the man to keep an eye on this week. He was great during the Ice Breaker and as we suspected in our preseason previews, will play a large role in this team’s success.
Packy Munson has been somewhat shaky in the first three games as a Husky. Certainly nowhere near bad enough to lose the starting role, he still has room to improve before Tech gets into the heart of their season. He has a chance to really dominate this weekend against the weakest opponent they will have seen to date.
Lake State had to be pleased with earning a split with Northern last week considering how many people expected NMU to make a major leap this year. Worth noting—those were “non-conference” games so they don’t count towards the standings. They have been led by junior forward Diego Cuglietta with two goals and three assists from freshman defenseman Lukas Kaelble. Beyond the results of last weekend, we know very little about Lake State or if they should be expected to compete with Tech. This is a great chance for MTU to establish themselves at the top of the conference with six points on the road.
Keys to the Game
- Win special teams again. The Huskies did a great job of dominating both sides of the special teams game last weekend that it would be a shame to not continue. This will be the easiest way to win in an unfriendly barn.
- Control the game flow. The Huskies have been outshot in every game so far. While it has worked for them in terms of results, they would be well served to play with the puck far more. Against a definitively less talented opponent, this should be a goal of Head Coach Joe Shawhan’s.
- See some dominance from Packy Munson. I think he has the talent to follow in the footsteps of all the goaltending talent that has preceded him. Now that he is settled in, I would love to see him completely shut down the Lakers.
There is nothing that would lead me to suggest the Huskies should lose this weekend. While playing in a tough environment is never easy, they defeated a far better opponent in UMD in their own barn. Until MTU shows differently, I’m not picking against them when playing any WCHA besides perhaps Minnesota State.
Huskies sweep the Lakers 5-2, 3-0.