After a shaky start to the weekend, the Michigan Tech Huskies (10-7-0) managed to sweep the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves (2-11-3). The Huskies find themselves in a rematch with the Clarkson University Golden Knights (11-3-1), whom they were swept by last year. Clarkson is coming off a one-game weekend where they defeated St. Lawrence (3-12-2).
The Golden Knights find themselves in a similar spot the Northern Michigan Wildcats (8-6-2) were in when they faced the Huskies. They have a very promising record, but they haven’t played the best teams. Currently the teams they’ve played have a combined record of 60-93-15 with the outliers being Cornell (10-1-0) and Providence (9-5-3) the only teams with positive records. Taking the same stat for the Huskies, opponent have a combined record of 71-55-12 with LSSU (5-14-1) and UAA (2-11-3) being the outliers and only teams with a negative record. However, unlike the Wildcats, the Golden Knights are significantly different when it comes to one major aspect: Goaltending.
Senior net minder Frank Marotte (11-3-1, 1.72 GAA, .939 SV%) has had a phenomenal year. He transferred to Clarkson from Robert Morris (7-7-2) where Justin Kapelmaster (7-6-2, 2.22 GAA, .941SV%) replaced him after transferring from Ferris State (5-9-1). Marotte has been a stone wall only breaking against teams that manage to get four goals against, which happened only three times this season.
Marotte has been very solid, but so has the blue line in front of him. The Golden Knights have only given up 27 goals (5th) on 429 shots allowed on goal (26th). In addition, they have seen a lot of success in special teams with a penalty kill percentage of 92.1 (T-4th) in 63 shorthanded situations. Leading defensemen in points is Connor McCarthy (Jr. 9 pts), followed by Brian Hurley (So. 6 pts) and Greg Moro (Sr. 5 pts).
Moving to the offensive zone, we see a very deadly top six with Devin Brosseau (Sr. 20 pts), Haralds Egle (Sr. 17 pts), Josh Dunne (So. 14 pts), Zach Tsekos (Jr. 12 pts), Jack Jacome (Jr. 9 pts), and Anthoney Romano (Fr. 5 pts). Unfortunately for the Golden Knights, their scoring depth drops off significantly with the bottom half of both the offense and defense tallying four or less points of the course of 10-15 games played for each player. Clarkson has a PP% of 22.8 (15th).
This lack of depth scoring seems to be a non-issue within the ECAC where including Clarkson, only four of the 12 teams have a positive record, but the WCHA is a different story. Half of the teams have a positive record in addition to the huge amount of depth scoring with Mankato (14-1-1), Bowling Green (11-5-1), Tech, NMU, and Bemidji (8-5-3) who all surpass Clarkson. To finish on the subject of Clarkson’s scheduling, below is the same type of table from the Northern preview:
As seen from the table above, Tech will be only the third team with a positive goal differential that the Golden Knights will play. In addition, looking to teams like 3-9-0 Brown and 3-12-2 St. Lawrence both going to overtime shows that though Clarkson has some impressive numbers, there is some inflation factor to those numbers. This by no means excuses them from being a good team, it just shows that their success is skewed due to their schedule and what teams are good this season.
With all that said, it’s time to look to our Huskies. They began the weekend on a shaky note with UAA goaltender Kris Carlson making Tech look bad not allowing anything until late in the 3rd period where the Huskies were able to score two goals to top the Seawolves 2-1. Game 1 also saw Tanner Schachle get a five-minute major and a game misconduct for checking from behind which resulted in a WCHA issued suspension for Game 2. Saturday’s match up saw the same story until the middle of the second period when Tech was able to get two goals and not look back from there.
Scoring on the weekend was Brian Halonen (x2), Tyler Rockwell, Trenton Bliss, Tommy Parrottino, and Alec Broetzman. Notching assists for the weekend were Trenton Bliss, Eric Gotz (x3), Justin Misiak, Seamus Donohue, Alex Smith, Logan Pietila, and Matt Jurusik. Despite the rocky start to the weekend seeing so many different players being involved on the score sheet is furthering the trend of Tech putting things together offensively. This will be key to beating Clarkson this weekend as the more depth scoring the better.
Transitioning to the blue paint we saw Matt Jurusik keep the Seawolves in check, giving up two goals on 40 shots over both games. He continues to stay hot in net for the Huskies stopping almost everything thrown at him. This was especially important as Tech’s slow start in game one led to at least two breakaways for the Seawolves and resulting in the only goal given up. If Tech wants to see any form of success for the remainder of the season, they will need to tighten things up defensively while continuing to build up more depth scoring.
Keys to the Game
- From the Top Down. The Huskies will need to shut down Clarkson’s top two lines to have any chance at winning this weekend. If they manage to do this, they only thing standing between them will be Frank Marotte.
- See the Net. As Coach Shawhan mentioned in this week’s episode of the Joe Shawhan Hour, if Tech wants any chance to score their forwards will need to see the net and not the goaltender. Looking at the stats, Tech should get a lot of shots through to Marotte, it’s going to be up to whether or not he can stop them.
- Patch the Holes. As seen from this previous weekend, Tech was giving the Seawolves far too many chances in the way of turnovers. Tech’s passing and puck control will have to be spot on if they want to win this weekend. If we see a repeat of last weekend’s performance in this regard it isn’t going to be a fun time for both Matt Jurusik and the fans watching.
This is a difficult call to make. The Huskies appear to finally be turning the corner to becoming consistently successful. Clarkson will be a very good test to see if this is a trend that is going to stay. This is a very similar situation to the Tech-Northern series and I think the result will be similar with Tech having the advantage of playing at home for both games. Due to this, I think Tech will sweep the series with a high chance of my prediction being wrong. Clarkson hasn’t had the toughest opponents while Tech has been playing a hard schedule. Comparing each via KRACH we see that Tech has a strength of schedule of 8/60 while Clarkson has a 44/60. This would indicate that Tech is the better team in my eyes. MTU wins 3-2, MTU wins 2-1.
The guys on our Chasing MacNaughton Podcast also made predictions this weekend for this coming series against Alaska-Anchorage and other match ups in the WCHA. Episode Four’s liner notes can be found here.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 will be Saturday at 6:07 Est
*Flohockey.tv is also the source of all games played in WCHA buildings this season so don’t be afraid to sign up for a month or the year for flohockey. Flo Sports now has apps for IOS, Android (with chromecast support), Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Roku.