The Michigan Tech Huskies (11-5-1) find themselves in a bit of déjà vu this week as they are again in Big Rapids playing the Ferris State Bulldogs (0-14-1) on a Tuesday. The Bulldogs found some success tying and winning in the shootout in their Friday game one against Bemidji State (7-4-3), but then got stomped the next night losing 7-2. The Huskies left Alabama-Huntsville sweeping the Chargers (2-7-1) only giving up two goals on the weekend.
The Bulldogs continue to show that there is more than meets the eye regarding their 0-14-1 record. They are a good offensive team and are able to score goals and with freshman Logan Stein (0-6-1, 4.07 GAA, .873 SV%) in net, they can be a scary team. However, once again their lack of blue experience and depth; to no fault of their own due to their underclassmen, is the one Achilles heel to what would otherwise be a contending team this season. The cold hard true is that Bob Daniels’ defensive core is just not up to snuff yet. These Bulldogs can score goals with the best of them, but are an even bigger glass cannon than the Wildcats (5-11-0) this season. Stein has shown he can keep his team in the game on just his own merits this past Friday, but Saturday’s game shown that he is only human and needs the five players in front of him to step up and help. Other than the fact that a week has passed, this is the same Ferris team Tech saw in their previous matchup. Expect a physical and quick swing series.
The Huskies are almost done with their extended road trip and have seen mixed success. After being swept by Bowling Green (14-6-0), they were able to turn it around, taking their last three games which were, by all accounts, must-wins for this Huskies team. The real talk of the past three games is that the offense has finally appeared to come in full force, scoring 13 goals between all three games.
While it has to be emphasized that this production has come against the WCHA basement, it is still a good confidence booster and helps Tech regain its stride though this longer series against Ferris, which may prove to do more harm than good for the Huskies’ win column. The Bulldogs were able to put up an uncharacteristic four goals on Blake Pietila on only 15 shots, resulting in his worst game this season. Pietila was able to bounce back against the Chargers, giving up only one goal on 18 shots. The main point of concern with this trend is that even though Pietila saw very few shots on the game, four went in. Hopefully, if he does get the start, we will see a better result.
The final point on contention for this series is personal for the Huskies. The blueline has been its expected strong self, but the forward core has found itself struggling. Tommy Parrottino hasn’t played since January 3rd and likely didn’t travel with the team, Carson Bantle hasn’t seen the ice since leaving in the second period last Tuesday with looked like a shoulder injury, and Logan Pietila appears to be skating the line of just cracking the lineup. While both Bantle and Parrottino’s absences are par the course of this covid-riddled season, L. Pietila’s regression is worrisome given the high expectation after a 20-point freshman season. Hopefully he is able to find his stride soon because his offensive presence is sorely missed.
Keys to the Game
Key the ball rolling. While the D-core has been rock solid, the forwards have been finding themselves playing musical chairs. Personally, I don’t blame Head Coach Joe Shawhan trying to find what works and don’t envy his task. However, he seems to have struck gold with certain lines line the Richartz-Nardella-Ashbrook combo.
Show your growth. The biggest story line this season in my eyes the large amount of growth this team has shown. Misiak, Bliss, Caderoth, Ashbrook, Buckley, and B. Pietila have all shown significant improvement throughout this year.
Poke the Bear. This is going to be a bit dangerous, but this Ferris team is very physical. If the Huskies can manage to push their buttons, they should be able to capitalize on this young’s team lack of composure in the way of powerplay opportunities. Look to new comer Ryland Mosley to lead the charge on this front.
This is a dangerous series for the Huskies. Ferris is a good team and will test any opponent. The Huskies can’t take a break and need to keep the good times rolling. I would expect Pietila to start this Tuesday due to it being conference game, but also expect Sinclair to see ice time back in Houghton. Hopefully Tech is up to the task and doesn’t fall into a trap. Tuesday’s game: MTU wins 5-2. Weekend Series: MTU wins 4-1, MTU wins 4-3.
How to Watch
Both games are available through Mix 93.5 for audio featuring Dirk Hembroff (free), and via flohockey.tv* (paywall) for video. Tuesday’s Game will at 4:07 Est , while the weekend series sees Game 1 on Friday at 7:07 Est and game 2 will be Saturday at 6:07 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.