The Old Dog had a wild weekend, and All Things Huskies were at the center of it all. Things started out Friday afternoon, on a glorious North Texas day in November, sunny and warm, on the golf course. I managed to break 90 for the first time in a long time, particularly since I had serious surgery on my left wrist and two of my fingers back in May. I even made an 85-foot putt, which was complete dumb luck since I misread the shot badly and pushed it far to the right. Just as I thought I’d be three (and maybe even four) putting, the ball slowly started to break and curled into the hole for a birdie.
Feeling great, I managed to return home just in time to turn on Mix 93 and listen to Dirk Hembroff’s pregame show. As always, Dirk was entertaining, and with Dave Ellis adding his usual insightful commentary, I settled down with Mrs. Dog to load FloHockey and watch the Huskies do battle with Lake Superior State.
As Tech jumped out to a two-goal lead, and never allowed the Lakers to get any closer, the final score turned out to be 4-2—once again, just as THG’s Jonathan Zamaites had predicted in his weekly preview. That was the third straight game he’d forecast both the victor and the score correctly, an absolutely amazing feat—better than my birdie putt, I thought to myself. The Discord Dogs were all begging Jonathan to go with them to Vegas and put some money on something, anything. But, being the modest kind of guy he is, JZ passed. But everyone enjoyed the Huskies playing at a high level, and, for much of the game, controlling the play.
Saturday morning came early for The Old Dog and Mrs. Dog, as that was the day we had set for the 8th Annual Dallas-Fort Worth Tech Alumni Football watch party. Anne Marie Stimpson, who leads the Dallas-Fort Worth alumni group, had done a great job of reminding everyone about the event, and we had an excellent turnout.
As usual, we had the Huskies flag flying in our yard and Kay Larson, Assistant Director for External Relations at Tech, had arranged for a huge shipment of pasties. Everyone who came brought interesting food and drink, and Mrs. Dog did her normal magic of making more than a dozen pasties come out almost exactly as halftime arrived. Plus, just about everyone took home several pasties (Ann Marie took a dozen) and they’ll be enjoying a taste of the UP in the coming weeks.
We also had a special guest. Bryant Weathers, Director of Advancement for the College of Engineering, was in town for a University function, and he joined us. When the game was over, Tech had beaten Northwood 34-21. That gave the Huskies a 5-5 final season record, and a tie for fifth place in the GLIAC standings (after being picked to finish last in the pre-season polls).
While not everyone hung around for the hockey game, those who did were able to see the Huskies again beat the Lakers 2-1. And, while Zamaites didn’t get the score right, he did predict a Tech victory (his projection was 4-1 for Tech). However, the game was a real nail-biter, as Them Dogs were being pushed hard by Lake State. In the third period, LSSU took over the game and put 18 shots on goalie Matt Jurusik—and about a dozen of those shots were quality chances. Jurusik was a brick wall, though, and nothing got through.
Interestingly, Joe Shawhan, in his Friday post-game Q & A with Hembroff, when speaking about the Huskies’ offense said “We’re not sitting back. It’s not like we’re playing a boring style of game. We’re not trying to hang on and win a 1-0 game.” Nope. Just a 2-1 game. It was certainly a big win on Saturday, but it was yet another game with way too much puck time in Them Dogs’ own end.
Still, when the ice chips had cleared, Tech had improved to 5-6 for the year. They also climbed into 6th place in the WCHA with 9 points, and even more interesting, they advanced to 16th in the Ratings Percentage Index. That’s a very high result for a team with a losing record, but overall Tech has played the third toughest schedule in the country, and that plays a big role in the Huskies’ index rating.
Trenton Bliss was named WCHA Forward of the Week after getting two goals on Friday and the powerplay game winner on Saturday. That’s three game winners for Bliss in five Husky victories. Jurusik, Colin Swoyer, and Logan Ganie all earned Honorable Mentions for the WCHA awards as well. Brian Halonen also tallied two goals, both of which showcased his strength and shooting skills. Halonen was also a factor in Bliss’s Saturday game winner, as he was tied up by a Laker defender. The result was a solid screen and a bounce off the Laker’s skate that went in.
There were some other odd things that showed up after the weekend was over. Most of them come to us from Atlantic Hockey, a place where things you never thought you’d see tend to happen on a regular basis. The first thing you notice if you look at the AHA standings is that Robert Morris is in first place with a 7-1 league record—and Tech’s opening series sweep of RMU is part of the reason that the Huskies’ RPI is as high as it is.
The other result in the AHA, this one utterly jaw-dropping, came from the American International-Mercyhurst series. On Friday, AIC just steamrolled Mercyhurst by a score of 12-0. Twelve goals—that’s an outlandish total, particularly because it happened in Mercyhurst’s rink. But then, inexplicably (at least if you study the box scores from both nights), Mercyhurst rebounded and took a 5-4 overtime victory on Saturday. Makes you wonder what the Mercyhurst coaches said after Friday’s game.
Over in the NCHC, St. Cloud State is off to a very slow 2-4-4 start (yes, four ties in ten games) and they were swept by Colorado College in a series at “The Herb” in St. Cloud. Next weekend, they head to “The Ralph” in Grand Forks to go against North Dakota. I guess they need to come to “The Mac” to hit the Trifecta.
The next big test for Tech comes this week in the home-and-home series with Northern Michigan. Yet one more interesting fact—NMU lost in overtime and tied St. Cloud back on November 8-9. But it’s always the Dog-And-Cat War when the Huskies face the Wildcats, who are 7-3-2 so far yet rated below Tech (at 21st) in RPI. We’ll get to see how Team 99, which is clearly a work-in-progress, fares in this bitter rivalry.
Overall, it was a great weekend to be a Husky. A win in football, a great party and gorgeous weather here in Texas, and a sweep in Sault Ste. Marie—now, if we can only get the total Yooper Sweep with two wins against Northern.