2010 through 2019 saw a lot of change for Michigan Tech. The decade started with the Huskies winning a half dozen games over the last season and a half of Jamie Russell’s tenure and it ended in Detroit with the Huskies winning the Great Lakes Invitational for the second time since John MacInnes retired as head coach. Today we discuss the top ten moments over that decade, plus few extras.
Before we get the list, we have three moments that were very big for Huskies alumni but they are not exactly “Michigan Tech Moments.” We’ll start with two former Huskies winning the Stanley Cup. Pheonix Copley (who will come up later in this article) was a part of the Washington Capitals 2018 championship team and was able to raise the Cup after the gentlemen’s sweep of the Golden Knights. Mitch Reinke was in basically the same situation as Copley with the 2019 St. Louis Blues. He spent most of the season with their AHL affiliate but was on the bench when the Blues won the title and raised the Cup. Neither player did enough to have their name immortalized on the Stanley Cup, but both got to have the cup for a day.
The other moment was something most of us will never forget. John Scott found a way to be selected captain of the Pacific NHL All-Star Team which won the whole thing. Despite the NHL’s best efforts, Scott even managed to win a write-in campaign for MVP and got a free car. It was a very unforgettable moment that has spurred a podcast episode from Radiolab. Now on to the list.
Other than their annual trip to Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan Tech played in many tournaments and two of them stick out but weren’t good enough to make this list. They won the inaugural Desert Hockey Classic in Phoenix by beating Connecticut and Yale (in a shootout) back in 2016 and the Huskies participated in the 2017 edition of the Icebreaker where they took down Union and the hosts, Minnesota Duluth. Both teams were ranked in the top 16 preseason poll at the time and the Huskies took care of business.
The last moment to add here was the hiring of Joe Shawhan. The second half of this season will say a lot about how good a hire he was, but so far so good. The reason he doesn’t make the list is because when he was hired it didn’t necessarily seem like he was the first choice. In retrospect from conversations, he is the perfect fit for this team and Houghton but he needs to figure out the “Millenial” stuff. So far the team seems to have gelled this year and they’re headed in the right direction. It might end up being the more important hire, but as it stands, I think it’s less memorable.
#10 – Mel Pearson Hired as Head Coach
Some of you might be upset about this one, but the hire of Mel Pearson (with help from some great recruiting by his predecessor and drastically increased support from the University) helped turn Michigan Tech around. Pearson immediately took the Huskies to the Final Five for only the second time since 1996.
Pearson left the team in a rough spot when he left for Michigan by over-committing scholarships and left a sour taste in our mouths with his “Irish goodbye.” However, there is no denying that he brought relevance to a program that had spent a lot of time struggling to compete in the WCHA. Heck, his hiring was one of the reasons Tech Hockey Guide was founded in 2011.
#9 – MTU defeats UAH in Three Overtimes
While a victory over Alabama-Huntsville usually isn’t something to celebrate, the fact that this game was the longest in Michigan Tech history and according to College Hockey News, and the seventh longest game in NCAA history. Michigan Tech put up SEVENTY SEVEN shots to finally get one past Carmine Guerriero. In the end the Huskies won 1-0 and swept the Chargers after a convincing win Saturday, but that nail-biter will be remembered.
At the time, it surpassed the 2007 Great Lakes Invitational Championship game as the longest in MTU history early in the second overtime. The 2007 game was heartbreaker for MTU, losing moments after hitting the post 2:32 into the second overtime. The only other games to go longer than 80 minutes in school history were the 1979 GLI Championship that went 82:28 with Mel Pearson scoring the winning goal and the WCHA championship game against BGSU (more on that later).
#8 – Sweeping CC to make 2012 Final Five
Before the reshuffling, Michigan Tech had struggled in the WCHA almost every year since John MacInnes stepped down as coach. As we mentioned in #10, from 1997 until Pearson was hired, the Huskies had made the Final Five once. Amazingly, both times the Huskies did it by beating Colorado College in Colorado Springs. This time the Huskies swept the Tigers in the first round a mere week after being swept in Colorado Springs. The Huskies rebounded after spending the week there and acclimating. The sweep culminated with a game winning goal in overtime from David Johnstone. The trip to the Final Five before the reshuffling gives many the thought of wondering just how good some of those NCAA tournament teams would have done if the reshuffling never happened, but we’ll never know.
#7 – MTU beats MSU & Michigan for 2019 GLI
The 2019 edition of the Great Lakes Invitational was just the second GLI title for Michigan Tech since 1980 and it was special because the Huskies had never beaten both Michigan State and Michigan to win the title in any other GLI. The added layer of defeating Mel Pearson’s led Wolverines featuring three recruits that defected from MTU after the coaching change (Jake Gingell, Jack Becker, and Keaton Pehrson) makes it extra sweet. The Huskies came very close to breaking their record for most consecutive championship game appearances without a win, but thankfully another come from behind victory prevented that record from growing.
Check back tomorrow for our top six moments of the decade. How many do you think you can name off the top of your head?