That is the number of days since the Michigan Tech Huskies had to turn their bus around and had back home due to the cancelation of the 2019-20 season. Now we are one day away from the start of Tech’s 100th season. The Huskies will be being playing the Lake Superior State Lakers who find themselves coming off a 14-23-4 (.390) season where they drastically underperformed.
The Lakers found themselves losing 11 players either due to transfers or graduation. This resulted in a lost of 64 points from last season, or ~26% of their total output. The big losses include forwards Max Humitz (35 pts), Bryan Basilico (4pts), Brenden Mckay (7 pts), and defenseman Tyler Anderson (5 pts). On the incoming side of their roster, the Lakers have 10 players; eight freshmen and two transfers. Forwards Jack Jeffers (UAH 12 pts) and Brandon Puricelli (UMD 2pts) find themselves making the move to Sault Ste. Marie. While both good pickups expect Puricelli to get more ice time if he is able to repeat his 80 point in 59 games, he had in 2018-19 season with the Springfield Jr. Blues (NAHL).
Moving to the incoming freshmen the stand outs appeared to be goaltender Ethan Langenegger (23-15-2, 2.79 GAA, .908 SV%), defenseman Jeremy Gervais (17G 17pts) both from the Salmon Arm Silverbacks (BCHL), forward Joshua Wildauer (51G 57pts) from the Coquitlam Express (BCHL), and forward Tyler Williams (58G 31pts) from the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL). Look for this group of players to make an immediate impact par Langernegger due to the presents of Mareks Mitens (13-21-4, 2.57 GAA, .911 SV%) who looks to have the starting role. Despite a poor record he was rock solid in net all season last year. I would expect Head Coach Damon Whitten to lean on him again this season.
Finally, looking at returning players, we have a few jersey changes. Junior Mirolsav Mucha (8pts) changed from #20 to #10 for this season and sophomore Niko Esposito-Selivanov (1pt) is now #11 (previously #27). The big returners that the Lakers will look to will no doubt be junior Ashton Calder (28pts), sophomore Louis Boudon (27pts), junior Pete Veillette (26pts) and senior Hampus Eriksson (24pts).
The Huskies find themselves in a similar situation to most teams this year with some turnover due to graduation and transfers. Ten players found themselves on the way with seniors Raymond Brice (8pts), Alex Smith (23pts), Keegan Ford (5pts) and Matt Jurusik (19-11-3, 2.07 GAA, .918 SV%), all graduating. Juniors Seamus Donohue (17pts to St. Cloud), Mitch Meek (0pts to LIU), Robbie Beydoun (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA, .947 SV% with Wisconsin so far this season), Todd Kiilunen (0pts), and sophomore Zach Noble (0pts) have either transferred or are no longer with the program. All in all, the Huskies lost 53 points or ~19% of their total output.
Coming in to offset that loss are freshman forwards Carson Bantle, Arvid Caderoth, Nick Nardella, Blais Richartz; defensemen Jed Pietila (2nd Cousin of Blake and Logan), Brett Thorne; and goaltender Cayden Bailey. The Huskies also got one transfer in former UAH goalie senior Mark Sinclair. If you would like an in-depth roster review including a look at all new players, THG’s own Mike Anleitner has done just that!
As for this coming series, I would predict Sinclair to get the start as Head Coach Joe Shawhan has said Sinclair should get significant minutes this season. That being said, he should have a noticeable improvement in terms of stats and record making the trip from Huntsville to the Copper Country. Look for another year of competition on net however, Coach Shawhan like to keep all netminders on their toes. For the past few seasons it seems he isn’t as crazy as some fans might have thought switching them in and out. As for the rest of the team make up, look to the junior and senior class to continue improving with Bantle and Caderoth making an instant impact.
With all that said I give the offensive and defensive advantage to Tech while LSSU takes the advantage in net.
Keys to the Game
- Start Strong. This applies to both the players and the coaching staff. This is a make or break year, we don’t know how many games Tech is actually going to get to play. We also don’t quite know how playoffs are going to work on the national level. Tech needs to start hot and stay how all season.
- The Best Defense is a Strong Offense. In this particular matchup, there shouldn’t be a shortage of goals for the Huskies. I don’t normally advise this, but Tech needs to “pull a Northern” and hope to score enough goals to overcome goals against. This is season we are going to see the most offensively talent group since probably the 2014-15 season, we might as well use it.
- Stay Relaxed. This has been one hell of an offseason; the Huskies will need to keep composed and not try to over do it in their first outing. Have fun and be excited that college hockey is back!
In my eyes the Huskies are clear favorites. The only advantage the Lakers have in Mitens in net and whether or not he decides to stand on his head this weekend. That aside the Huskies should sweep easily pending something unpredictable happening (it is 2020 after all). MTU wins 4-1, MTU wins 3-0.
How to Watch
All games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Game 1 will be Saturday at 5:07 EST and game 2 will be Sunday at 3:07 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.