After a grueling eight-game road trip going 5-3, the Huskies (5-5-0) find themselves in an uncommon Thanksgiving homestand against the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks (2-8-2). The Nanooks are coming off of a split at home vs the Alabama Huntsville Chargers (1-11-0) while the Huskies are coming home after being swept by the Clarkson Golden Knights (6-4-0).
The Nanooks’ 2-8-2 record may project a team struggling this season, and while that might be partly true, one really has to look at their schedule to date. The Nanooks have not had it easy with one of the toughest opening schedules of any team this season. Out of the six teams they’ve seen five are ranked. They consist of Arizona State16 (10-4-0), St. Cloud State1 (11-1-0), Denver6 (6-3-1), Minnesota State3 (9-1-0), and Lake Superior State20 (6-3-1). With these formidable opponents, there have been some bright spots against Denver and LSSU. Against Denver, they were able to tie game two, and vs LSSU they tied game one and take game two.
The Nanooks are a very young team, with ten incoming players. Their ability to take a gamer and tie two should not be overlooked. Junior Anton Martinson (3.24 GAA, .892 SV %) has posted a 0-7-2 record, while freshman Gustavs Grigals (3.28 GAA, .894 SV%) has the two wins with a 2-1-0 record. It will be interesting to see which netminder 1st-year head Coach Erik Largen will peg for the start due to the close stats between Martinson and Grigals. The Nanooks also hold an 80.3% PK% (34th) and 11.3% PP% (55th).
The Huskies are coming off of a tough series where the Golden Knights sweep them 3-1 in each game. Junior Matt Jurusik saw the start Friday allowing two goals on 20 shots, while senior Devin Kero guarded the crease allowing two goals on 24 shots. Tech’s defense didn’t play badly in either game limiting the Golden Knights to sub 25 shots per game and only allowing one power play goal in 13 opportunities. However, their offense is a different story going 0/10 on the power play and only managing one goal in each game. The Huskies were unable to capitalize on puck rebounds while also being kept to the outside edges of the offensive zone.
Injuries are still mounting on the Huskies as well with Junior Gavin Gould missing game two presumably with an injury. He now joins senior Jake Jackson, freshman Eric Gotz, and sophomore Mitch Meek on the injury list. That being said, they might be ready for this coming homestand which would result in a huge boost to the Huskies.
Keys to the Game
- Constancy. This Nanook program has a new head coach in Erik Largen with the addition of a large incoming class of freshman. As a result, they are in the process of building up their program. If the Huskies play at the same level they showed in Clarkson and in previous matchups, they should be able to contain and capitalize on this young Nanooks team.
- Secondary Chances. Throughout last weekend at Clarkson, the Huskies were unable to control the rebounds from their initial shots. If Tech hopes to regain an offensive presence and maintain pressure they will have to be able to make follow up shots.
- Continued Dominance. The Huskies have currently won the last 14 games against the Nanooks. They look to continue this streak and show their dominance over this annual series.
This series should be a good welcome home for the Huskies on a rare Thanksgiving homestand. Tech should sweep the series continue their trend against the Nanooks MTU wins 3-0, MTU wins 5-2.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (Free), and via flohockey.tv for video (Paywall).
THG Jersey Order Update and 2019 Order Info.
On a final note, for those who ordered the throwback HOF-Back jerseys, they will be in this weekend at the John MacInnesStudent Ice Area for those attending the series and will be shipping next week.
For those interested in participating in the 2019 order, you can fill out This Form. As is stands now, we have enough interest to order the Creams and HOF-Blacks. We’re right on the edge of having enough for the Golds and the Circle-Blacks.