As they continue their six-game road trip over the course of two weeks, the Huskies (9-5-1) now find them in Huntsville, Alabama for their second and final meeting against the Chargers (2-5-1). The Huskies managed to leave Big Rapids on a high note beating the Ferris State Bulldogs (0-13-0) 6-4. Meanwhile, the Chargers find themselves coming off of a monthlong pause due to covid. The Charges are in a similar situation that Tech was just in, their last game was January 9th and have a full 13 games in the month of February only. They are being their sprint against the Huskies.
AnalysisBefore their shutdown, UAH managed to sweep Ferris. This continues their storyline of how after losing over half a roster’s worth of players, they managed to come back in a stronger place than last season. This feat is quite amazing and credit needs to be giving to Head Coach Lance West for the sudden improvement. Even thought their wins came against the 0-13 Ferris State Bulldogs, as Huskies fans saw just this last Tuesday, they are the verge of being a good if not great team. The Charges appear to be on a similar path, already matching their total win count just a season ago. UAH’s success is coming off the back of both upper classmen in Tyr Thompson (F, 6 pts) and Dayne Finnson (D, 5 pts) in addition to underclassmen with Tyrone Bronte (F, 7 pts) and Lucas Bahn (D, 4 pts) leading the charge. In net sophomore David Fessenden (2-2-1, 2.10 GAA, .933 SV%) has proven to be a number one starter posting starts that would give him that job one any team in the league. I would expect him to get the nod in net this weekend and look forward to see him play again. Transitioning to the Huskies, the offense finally decided to show up against a very defensively weak Ferris State team. The Bulldogs decided to start junior net minder Roni Salmenkangas (0-6-0, 4.73 GAA, .854 SV%). This was a questionable call due to his performance as of late and that was proven as the Huskies chased him out after 27 mins of playing, allowing three goals on 10 shots. Freshman Logan Stein (0-5-0, 3.73GAA, .885 SV%) was called on as a replacement and managed to settle things down, keeping the Bulldogs in the game. The Huskies only managed to get two power play goals (one being a 5 on 3). This led to the main question generated out of this game: was is just a bad night for the Huskies’ blue line and netminder, or is it something more? I should preface this with say that Ferris only had 19 shots the whole game, but four one them went in the net. This could be due to a number of reasons, from the loss of Brett Thorne on a more than justified ejection for a bad hit, to the frequency of games for the team as a whole. One thing is sure however, this was an uncharacteristically bad game for Blake Pietila whom up until now was in the top five best goaltenders in the nation. This makes me wonder if we’ll see a switch to Sinclair in order to rest him. Again, this could be nothing more than his third game in five days, which in of itself is crazy compared to what typically happens in NCAA hockey. Hopefully if Pietila is back in net, he returns to form because this Charger team is better in almost every way than the Bulldogs,. A similar performance to Tuesday’s effort just isn’t going to cut it.
Keys to the Game
- Well rested vs perpetually tired. The Chargers are coming off a month away from hockey while the Huskies are going to be playing their fourth and fifth games in nine days. This series will final answer the age old question this season of what is worse: too much time off or too many games?
- Play it safe. Tuesday’s game against Ferris was nothing less than a slug fest. From hard hits to injuries, both teams took a beating. The Huskies will have to play a little less physical just so that they can continue this spirt of theirs. Hope we see Carson Bantle back in the lineup as well.
- No surprises. This series continues the Huskies redemption tour after being swept at Bowling Green. The Huskies should be the favorite to win, but the need to make sure they don’t make any headlines by splitting or being swept.