Wrap Up: Week 3, 2016

Huskies return to form for 5 WCHA points

Following the 0-4 start to the season,the Huskies returned to form last weekend. Friday night saw the offense roll, with five unanswered goals to start play. Saturday saw a bit more of a defensive battle, going to 2OT for the Huskies', and the greater WCHA's, first taste of the new 3-on-3 OT rules. As a reminder, there are three conference points awarded in each game. A win in regular time or the first (5-on-5) OT is worth three WCHA points, going to 2OT (3-on-3 play) earns each team one point, and the winner in 2OT or shootout receives an a second point. Reid "Rod" Sturos netted the 2OT goal for the Huskies, giving Tech the extra, and much needed, conference point. Reid earned himself WCHA Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts.

The difference in play Friday night was palpable, feeding off the tamed chaos that was John Scott night and from the crowd in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The difference was not lost on Mel Pearson, who commented during his weekly show, "What a difference being home can be... A lot has to do with the home crowd... Our guys really feed off that".

What a difference being home can be... A lot has to with the home crowd... Our guys really feed off that
— Mel Pearson, Mel Pearson Show (Oct. 17, 2016)

Both goaltenders played their games this weekend. Friday night, Matt Wintjes (Sr.) stopped 21 of 22 and, with a significant lead, allowed Freshman Angus Redmond to gain some ice time. Saturday, Devin Kero (So.) stopped the same 21 of 22 over and into 2OT.  

On top of heightened play this weekend, the Huskies also adapted to the refereeing style prevalent this season. Tech reduced their penalty minutes from an average 20+ minutes per game through the first four games to just 12 per night against Huntsville. Special teams were a large portion of the series, and somewhere Tech needed to improve over their slow start. Tech ended the weekend 5 for 7 (71%) on the PP, an amazing percentage, which Mel Pearson attributed to cycling some PP lines around. Tech also held Huntsville to one goal on 11 PKs (90.1% PK). Turning up the special teams will continue to be paramount for MTU to keep turning around the season.

Coach Pearson has been very critical of the way games this season have been refereed. The Huskies were averaging 20+ PIMs per game, but only had 12 each night this weekend. (Photo from last season; credit Ryan Johnson)

Coach Pearson has been very critical of the way games this season have been refereed. The Huskies were averaging 20+ PIMs per game, but only had 12 each night this weekend. (Photo from last season; credit Ryan Johnson)

THG Three Stars of the Weekend:

1. Matt Roy (1G, 2A)

2. Reid Sturos (2G including Saturday's GWG)

3. Shane Hannah (1G, 2A Friday)

MTU in the Rankings

Tech currently sits #4 in WCHA standings with 5 points. Bemidji State leads all teams with 12 points through four games. MTU has fallen off the USCHO.com Division 1 Men's Poll and is down at #39 in the PairWise Rankings. Mitch Reinke (Fr., D - MTU) was honorable mention for WCHA Rookie of the Week

Around the WCHA

#1 Bemidji State at #10 Northern Michigan

Friday: 2-0, Saturday: 2-0

BSU continued to jump out to an early lead in the WCHA standings this week, sweeping the NMU Wildcats at home. Michael Bitzer (Jr., G - BSU) skated for a perfect weekend, stopping 21 Wildcat shots both nights (42 total saves). In another big weekend for the Fitzgerald brothers, as suspected, Myles Fitzgerald (Jr., F - BSU) had 3A on the weekend. He now has five points this season. Leo Fitzgerald scored the other goal, so a Fitzgerald received a point on each BSU goal this weekend.

Good News for Huskies Fans: No matter how you cut it, NMU is 1-3 so far this season, only defeating the lowly Wisconsin Badgers this season. 

Bad News for Huskies Fans: Be afraid of Bemidji. Be very afraid...

Lake Superior State vs Michigan State

Friday: 6-1, Saturday: 7-3

In the WCHA feel good story of the week, LSSU dominated the score sheet against the B1G's Michigan State. Owen Headrick (So. D - LSSU) was WCHA co- defensive player of the week scoring an NCAA high 5 points this weekend.

Good News for Huskies Fans: An excellent display for the WCHA, and for the Huskies who face the Spartans in early November.

Bad News for Huskies Fans: Could it be that LSSU isn't going to be a gimme series this year? LSSU currently leads all NCAA teams with a 3.5 GPG average through two games. Will they keep this trend going?

Bowling Green home/home vs. Western Michigan

Friday: 1-1 (Tie), Saturday: 8-2 (Western)

Chris Nell (Jr. G - BGSU) was relatively untested Friday night, only being required to stop 15 of 16. Florida Panthers draft pick Ryan Bednard (Fr., G-BGSU) was given the start Saturday, but Tomas Sholl (Sr., G - BGSU) finished after Bednard gave up four on the first six shots.

Good News for Huskies Fans: What's going on with BGSU this season? The Falcons are 0-3-1, but keep in mind it is still very early. Tech was 0-4 last weekend.

Bad News for Huskies Fans: The goals BGSU did score were scored by committee. Very few Falcon skaters had multiple points on the weekend, but several different individuals did make the score sheets. Do not forget they were picked preseason #1 in the WCHA.

Minnesota State vs St. Cloud State

Friday: 4-1, Saturday: 6-4

Minnesota State showed dominance this weekend, sweeping the Huskies of St. Cloud in a huge weekend for the WCHA and for the Mavericks. German native Peter Tuomie (Fr., F - MSU) and Clint Lewis (Jr., D - MSU) each had a pair of goals, Saturday, and chased the St. Cloud net minder out of the goal. Tuomie was awarded the WCHA rookie of the week.

Good News for Huskies Fans: Remember how bad it felt to be swept by MSU last week? At least St Cloud feels that way too. And they were the 2016 NCAA Tournament #2 seed.

Bad News for Huskies Fans: It looks like Minnesota State is good. REAL good.

Brice Alaska Gold Rush

Friday: Omaha 3, Alaska - Anchorage 1   /  Canisius 2, Alaksa 1 (OT)

Saturday: Canisius 0, Alaska - Anchorage 1  /  Omaha 4, Alaska 3 (OT)

Another tough weekend for the Alaska schools, with one win in four opportunities. Two good take-aways from these games as they pertain to the WCHA and Tech:

- Alaska can still skate with whoever they host. Taking Omaha to OT shows a lot of talent.

- Alaska - Anchorage still has something to play for. Don't let the talk of eliminating the UAA athletics program translate to the SeaWolves quitting.