On Saturday, the Old Dog turned his house into a kennel, as we welcomed more than twenty Tech alumni from Dallas-Fort Worth for the fifth annual DFW Huskies Watch Party. With Mrs. Dog (as my wife Carol is referring to herself these days) doing the largest share of the work, we hung out our Huskies flag, decorated the house with Tech and Bosch memorabilia, and welcomed everyone for our first ever double-header watch.
Starting at noon, we sat down to watch the football team do battle with Wayne State. Mrs. Dog baked pasties (supplied by Pasty Central, with ordering coordinated by the University Alumni Association) for everyone, “adult beverages” were brought by those attending and we generally reminisced about the cult of Michigan Tech.
For the better part of eight years, alumni in the DFW area have been getting together for events. Our local leader, Ann Marie Stimpson, our “den mother,” has kept us going. We’ve been to Dallas Stars games, had a dinner party, held game-playing days over the the Ft. Worth area, and attended several events that the University organized through the Alumni Association. We started our “watch party” approach in 2012 when we met at a Buffalo Wild Wings to view a Tech game against North Dakota.
In past years, we got together to view a home football game. This year, for the first time, we included a hockey game as part of the celebration. We were joined by two of the Oldest Dogs, both from the class of 1961: Bill Rosenthal and Ron Settimi. “Back in the day” they both watched the Huskies while freezing in Dee Stadium. Bill is the host for our game-playing days, and he does it at a VFW post in a place called Benbrook. It’s a spot that any Yooper would love—it’s really a private bar, but it wouldn’t be out of place in downtown Hancock.
The football game started out well, with Tech taking a 14-9 halftime lead. But a scoreless second half for the Huskies, combined with 11 WSU points, sent MTU to a 20-14 defeat. For the Old Dog, it was a hard loss to take. As you can see if you’ve ever read my bio at the end of the column, you’ll know I’m also a Wayne State alumnus. But what you probably don’t know is that my younger brother Keith is a member of the WSU Athletic Hall of Fame for his football exploits. He’s still in the WSU record books in several defensive categories, and he made sure he let me know on Facebook that the Warriors beat the Huskies.
While the football game put a bit of a damper on the spirit, we replayed the third period of Friday’s 4-3 victory over Alabama-Huntsville after the game was over and that picked up the atmosphere.
We then took a break and came back to watch Saturday’s hockey game against the Chargers. When Tech took a 1-0 lead on a goal by Thomas Beretta, all of the Old Dogs were howlin’. But when the Chargers scored the next three, we oohed, ahhed and groaned as the Huskies put up shot after shot but couldn’t get it in the net. When Tech got their second goal with 2:10 remaining, we held out hope for a late come from behind victory, but it wasn’t to be, as UAH added an open-netter for a 4-2 win.
So, what does this split mean? To start, the Huskies played well enough to win on Saturday. They had 20-plus bona fide scoring chances. But they made some key mistakes, particularly with unnecessary penalties, which were compounded with a lack of aggression on the penalty kill. Add a goose egg on eight power plays and a short-handed goal for UAH and that sealed the deal.
And UAH wasn’t just dog food; they played hard, never let up, and clogged the middle of their own end to frustrate Tech.
It appears to me that UAH is going to be a tough opponent for the rest of the WCHA this year. It’s probably a good thing that we only have to play them once—and we got them at home and early in the season. It’s not out of the question that we could see them again in the playoffs. They are good enough to get there, and we won’t be the only conference favorite to give up some series points to the Chargers.
At the same time, Minnesota State couldn’t get a sweep either, as Bowling Green rebounded from a lackluster Friday night loss to pick up three points with a 5-2 Saturday win.
That sets up next weekend’s series, as the Huskies travel to Mankato to take on the pre-season favorite Mavericks. MSU has a very strong team, they’ve got talent running out of their ears, and the Verizon Center is a very tough rink to play in. Tech will be challenged to get a split.
This will tell us a great deal about how good the 2017-2018 edition of Husky hockey may turn out to be. The Old Dogs from Texas will be watching!