After splitting the series with Wisconsin (4-2-0), Michigan Tech (1-3-0) continues their four-series road trip with a stop in Huntsville to face the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (0-8-0). The Chargers are coming off of being swept by the Lake Superior State Lakers (4-0-0) at home. The Huskies look to turn their recent struggles around with this road series and should be given a good chance to do so.
Alabama-Huntsville has had their share of struggles this season going winless in their first eight contests. However, there is more than meets the eye when looking at this record. Sophomore goaltender Mark Sinclair has given the Chargers a fighting chance in all but one game he’s played in. Sinclair is averaging a 2.63 GAA and a .921 save percentage. Couple this with the teams he has played against (all of which are either ranked or receiving votes per USCHO), and the Chargers’ problems likely lie somewhere other than goaltending. Digging deeper into their team stats reveals the real problem: offensive production. The Chargers are currently averaging .9 goals per game and only have one powerplay goal with 33 chances (2.94%). The Chargers have above average goaltending and a solid defensive core that has a penalty kill percentage of 86.8%, which is 14th in the nation. The big question is whether or not they’ll be able to fix their offensive struggles.
The Huskies are coming off a split which saw an impressive game one winning 6-2 where they went 5/8 in powerplay opportunities. Tech’s freshman core showed what they are capable of with five of the eight goals seen this past weekend. The Huskies defense also showed what they are capable of on Friday. However, the Huskies defensive core showed they weren’t able to play a full 120 mins. For the second series in a row, multiple goals were scored without answer in the second period. This leaves a big question as to whether or not we’ll see a different Tech defense this coming weekend. Unlike the last two series that the Huskies played, this series should give the defensive a best-case scenario to see if they are up to the 120 mins of hockey to be played. The offensive shouldn’t see this as a chance to coast, however. The Chargers’ show real potential on the blue line and in the crease.
Keys to the Game
- Defensive Courage. There is no excuse for Tech this week when it comes to the blue line. The Chargers are not seeing the offensive production they need. This should be a good chance for the Huskies’ defensemen to show some strength and keep the Chargers’ offensive contained.
- Offensive Presence. The opposite can be said for the Huskies’ offense. The Charges are no slouches on the blue line and if Sinclair is patrolling the crease it’s not going to be an easy time. Tech needs to show that they are capable of sustaining the offensive performance seen in Friday’s game. This doesn’t necessarily mean putting up the same number of goals but maintaining the same pressure.
- Sustainable Goaltending. As it stands right now it is hard to determine who Coach Shawhan is going to put in net. The biggest factor going into trying to determine who is going to start boils down to the fact that Jurusik wasn’t pulled in Saturday’s game. This would lead to the assumption that he’s starting or at least traveling with the team. Regardless of whose starting the Huskies need to find a starter that they can rely on and look to every night.
The Huskies should sweep the series. The Chargers are having difficulties offensively and Tech’s defense should be able to continue the trend. MTU Wins 3-1, MTU Wins 2-1.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (Free), and via flohockey.tv for video (Paywall).
Featured Image courtesy of Ryan Johnson