The Michigan Tech Huskies enter into the WCHA Playoffs as the number 6 seed facing off against the number 3 seed Bowling Green Falcons (21-9-5). Tech looks to turn their fortunes around after getting swept by the number 2 seeded Northern Michigan Wildcats (19-14-2). The Falcons find themselves in a less than ideal position after splitting with the number 8 seed Alabama-Huntsville Chargers (8-26-2).
Falcons are looking to go deep into the playoffs to either win the auto bid to the NCAA Regionals (this goes to the WCHA Playoff champions) or win enough games to get in via the pairwise. This preview won’t go into what they need to accomplish to fulfill this but beating the Huskies is apart what they need to do. Since their last meeting with Tech, they have been unable to sweep any team they’ve played. Instead, they either split or win/lose a game and tie the other in the series. They have looked to junior goaltender Ryan Bednard (16-6-4, 1.8 GAA, .923 SV%) in the past three series and will most likely look to him to start this playoff series. The Falcons also have a 10.6 SH% while averaging 3.23 goals per game. The specials teams consist of a PP% of 18.4 (29th) and a PK% of 87.9 (4th).
The Huskies will look to generate some much-needed offense this postseason after being shut out in their last game of the regular season in Marquette. They look to be up to the task in game one in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena but then seemed to be flat all three periods in the Berry events center. Matt Jurusik has solidified his place in net in game one though anyone could hold that starting spot after his performance in game two resulted in him being yanked in the second period. One thing is for sure: all three goaltenders will travel and its anyone’s crease, they just have to take it. As far as offensive it will be seen if they are up to the task as points have been hard to come by while the Huskies defense has improved dramatically from the beginning of the season. Two final things to note, first, senior Jake Jackson was injured resulting missing game two against the Wildcats. His condition is unknown for this upcoming series. Two, sophomore Raymond Brice has returned from injury.
Keys to the Game
- Game one. This is going to be the most important game for the Huskies. The Falcons’ Lukas Craggs will be sitting out due to a suspension from collecting too many game misconduct penalties this season. He sat out one game against the Huskies this season and it just happened to be the one Tech won.
- 5 on 5. This Falcons team has dominated on the penalty kill this season. Tech will have to look to their 5 on 5 play over special teams if they hope to have any chance of scoring.
- Consistency. This is a double-edged sword. Tech has been anything but consists this second half of the season. However, Bowling Green has been: they can’t win multiple games in a row. Tech will need to hope this trend continues and take advantage of it.
I want the Huskies to win. I think they can muster at least one game from the Falcons. This is one of the better matchups comparing the records of the other tops seeds against Tech so there is hope. However, unless these Huskies can show they’re not defeated and want to keep their season alive they have no chance after that performance in the Berry Events Center. BGSU takes the series in three games. MTU wins 3-2, BGSU wins 5-4, BGSU wins 2-1.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv (paywall) for video.