Compared to the Forwards from Part 1, this group except for one position came together extremely easily. Six defensemen stuck out from the rest and there is a clear #1 goaltender for the decade. We’ll start with the defensemen. The top pair is pretty obvious with the points leader at the position and the goal scorer on probably the most iconic moment of the decade. Shane Hanna gets top billing here with his 90 points including 21 goals. Among his 7 game winners, the double-overtime breakaway winner for the first WCHA Championship decided on campus in 30 years rises to the top. It doesn’t get much bigger than that and it was amazing. Hanna stayed all four years and was top three in games (1), goals (1), assists (1), points (1), power play goals (2), game winners (1), and points per game (3) for the decade. Hanna was recognized for WCHA annual awards all four seasons; All-Second Team in 2017, All-Third team in 2016, Honorable Mention in 2015 and All-Rookie Team in 2014.
When you watch that video above, the goal is spectacular but it doesn’t happen without that setup pass. Who saw Hanna and took that chance? As we mentioned in last week’s Chasing MacNaughton Podcast, the current team is missing a player that can pull off this pass with any regularity, but the other half of our top pair had the vision and skill to pull it off. That was Matt Roy. The Canton, Michigan native is currently getting his second run in the NHL but during his three seasons with Michigan Tech he scored 12 goals and 55 points in 115 games. His three seasons coincide with Michigan Tech’s first trip to the NCAA tournament since 1981, the return of the MacNaughton Cup and the first ever Broadmoor Trophy for the Huskies. His role in all of this can’t be understated. His last two seasons in Houghton saw him earn WCHA All-Second Team and All-First Team honors.
According to rumors, at one point in his career, Mark Auk came close to transferring but he managed to get playing time and stuck it out and turned in one of the best careers of the 2010s. He was just 6 assists short of tying Hanna for points while tying him with 21 goals. His points per game was second all time with .579 points per game over 150 games in his four seasons. Auk never received All-WCHA honors but he consistently improved years over year and the only reason he was denied an award his senior year is because just over half of his 31 points happened in the 28 game conference schedule.
His defense pair is the only other player besides Brent Olson to play for Jamie Russell. Steven Seigo featured in 150 games over his four year career and was top three in goals (3), assists (3), points (3), and power play goals (1). During his four seasons, he was the leading scorer on the blueline three times, finishing 4 points behind Deron Cousins (as a senior) in 2010-11. Seigo really was a diamond in the rough from his era.
The last pair played together one season but had very different games. Cliff Watson was not a flashy scorer like the rest of this list but he was the captain of some of the best teams of the decade and his leadership and physical stay home play allowed quite a few of the others on this list to take more liberties while he was a defensive anchor in 162 games (one short of tying Hanna for most played). Watson only scored 8 goals but two were game winners (tied for second behind Hanna). Much like current players Trenton Bliss and Alec Broetzman, we have a coaching change to thank for Cliff joining the Huskies. He decommitted from Ohio State after Mark Osiecki was fired and the rest was history.
The last defensemen to make the list only appears this low because his college career only lasted two seasons before he signed with St Louis and immediately played an NHL game just eight days after his sophomore season ended with the heartbreaking loss to Notre Dame. Mitch Reinke scored 44 points in just 76 games good for first in PPG (0.579) which included 9 goals and 4 on the power play. His time saw him win WCHA All-Third team in 2018 and All-Rookie team in 2017.
Quite possibly the easiest choice on this list was the starting goaltender. Jamie Phillips stuck around for four years, started in 91 games and had the best save percentage (0.922), goals against average (2.00), and win percentage (0.678) of anyone that played more than a season during the decade. He managed those amazing stats over the course of 5600 minutes, while wunderkid Angus Redmond only played in 2272 minutes.
The second goaltender was probably the toughest decision from the decade because neither Angus Redmond, Matt Jurusik, Packy Munson, or Pheonix Copley were involved for more than two seasons, and Josh Robinson, Kevin Genoe, Robbie Beydoun, and Devin Kero didn’t do enough to deserve the spot. Throughout this process, Redmond, Jurusik and Copley all were penciled in at one point or another but ultimately it came down to one event, Copley’s back to back shutouts to give the Huskies’ their first GLI title in since 1981 and the fact that he was favored over Jamie Phillips during his two-year stint. Copley’s numbers weren’t comparable but his tenure was completely before conference reshuffling so its not all that surprising his numbers would look worse than everyone that came after.
During the 2018-19 season the NCAA added the use of an extra skater and because of that we thought we should choose someone to play that role for this team. He may not have the best stats, especially if we went with a forward left off last week’s list but Chris Leibinger would have been perfect for this role with his flexibility to play both on the wing, at center (where he was respectable on faceoffs) and his more natural defenseman. In his career he managed 13 goals and 35 points over 158 games but his senior season was his best with 9 goals and 6 assists largely in this role as a pivot player that could dress as a forward but slide back on defense if there was a game misconduct.
|Left Defense||Right Defense||Goaltenders|
|Shane Hanna||Matt Roy||Jamie Phillips|
|Mark Auk||Steven Seigo||Pheonix Copley|
|Cliff Watson||Mitch Reinke||Extra Skater|
The most amazing part of all of this is that 6 of these players from just part two were on the same team (Hanna, Roy, Auk, Watson, Leibinger were on both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 teams with Phillips on the former and Reinke on the latter). No wonder Joe Shawhan talks about those players so much when they were all together at different times. What a stacked defensive group.
All in all it was a pretty spectacular decade for the Huskies with great players and special moments. It’s a tall order but let’s hope the 2020s find a way to improve on this. Will there be any members of the century club? Or more trophies for the case? Only time will tell, but right now, I’ll settle for a dominating performance at Winter Carnival against Lake Superior State and their first trophy of the 2020s.