While battling a team-wide sickness, the Huskies (13-10-2) found themselves making the best of a bad situation, dropping game one and tying game two with Bowling Green (13-9-2). Meanwhile, Bemidji (12-7-2) have found themselves on a hot streak after having a cold start to the season. They are coming off of a sweep of Alabama-Huntsville (1-18-3).
Bemidji is going to be the third team to join the grouping of Northern and Clarkson to be filed under the category of “their stats aren’t as good as they appear.” Their 12-7-2 record looks impressive in a vacuum, but when you add the context that they have played Lake Superior State (7-19-2) four times, Ferris State (6-15-2) four times, Alabama-Huntsville (1-18-3) four times and Alaska (11-12-1) four times, then it looks severely less impressive. The Huskies will be only the fourth team the Beavers will with double digit wins, let alone a positive record. Collectively, Bemidji’s opponents have a record of 76-89-19 with the outliers being North Dakota (17-2-2) and Minnesota State (20-3-1), which heavily inflate the winning column. The Huskies’ opponents currently have a collective record of 140-108-24 with the outliers being LSSU and Alaska-Anchorage (3-14-3).
When looking at the Beavers’ personnel we see a similar story. They have four players with good point production in Aaron Miller (Jr. F, 21 pts), Adam Brady (Sr. F, 20 pts), Owen Sillinger (So. F, 17 pts) and Elias Rosén (Fr. D, 15 pts). After them is a steady decline in point totals. This leaves some uncertainty as to if their production is a result of their own doing or as a result of the teams they’ve played.
Moving to goaltending, junior Zach Driscoll (11-5-2, 1.77 GAA, .928 SV%) has been phenomenal this season, which again leaves the question of his success being as a result of his play or the teams he has played. Well we can demystify this question a little by looking at some team stats for teams he has played. Currently Bemidji is 13th in the nation with only 546 shots allowed on goal while Alabama-Huntsville has 459 shots for an 8.5% shooting percentage. Ferris has 586 shots and 9.2 Sh%, with LSSU having 734 shot but only a 7.4 Sh% (keep in mind 10% is considered healthy). These stats would tend to indicate that the teams are getting shots on net, but they aren’t going in either due to poor shot placement or Driscoll’s performance.
From the Huskies we saw a disappointing weekend, only taking one point. I don’t blame Tech due to the circumstances they faced: a team wide sickness. Both nights saw some shuffling of lines depending on which players were healthy enough to skate. Game one saw the Huskies looking slow and sloppy with many turnovers in both zones. However, they did make a run at a comeback in the last 21 minutes, but still fell short. Game two saw a better start and pacing, including two beautiful goals by Raymond Brice and Brian Halonen. Sadly, Tech couldn’t hold the lead and would tie and then lose the extra point in 3 v 3 overtime.
Starting both night was Matt Jurusik, but after some shaky play in game one Blake Pietila played the 3rd period. I would expect Jurusik to start this weekend as Coach Shawhan saw no problem in going back to him in game two.
Tallying points for the Huskies were: Parker Saretsky (1G), Seamus Donohue (1G), Raymond Brice (1G), Brian Halonen (1G), Alec Broetzman (1A), Colin Swoyer (1A), Trenton Bliss (1A), Justin Misiak (1A), Alex Smith (1A), Tyler Rockwell (1A) and Matt Jurusik (1A).
Keys to the Game
- Two Goals. This is a key number in the Beavers’ play this season. Bemidji has not won a game where they have only scored two or less goals (only tied). If Tech can keep them below this threshold they are almost guaranteed a win or tie.
- Puck Control. The Huskies had too many losses of possession throughout the entire weekend against the Falcons. They need to drastically improves this aspect of their game if they want to have any chance of winning again this season regardless of who they play.
- Constant Pressure. Tech needs to improve their early game performance. They are a 3rd period team which isn’t a bad thing, but they need to make life a little easier for themselves by not giving up so many early goals.
When I first started researching for this preview, I was very worried about this Bemidji Team, but I was wrong. I would be shocked if Tech didn’t sweep them (pending any lingering sickness) as the Beavers have played a majority of their games in the WCHA basement thus far. MTU wins 3-2, MTU wins 4-1.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Friday at 8:07 Est and game 2 will be Saturday at 7:07 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. Flo Sports now has apps for iOS, Android (with Chromecast support), Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.