Two Defensive Games Place Huskies 2nd in 52nd Annual GLI
Grade A "Beef" in Detroit
The overwhelming highlight of the 2017 GLI for the Michigan Tech Huskies was Angus Redmond's level of play. The freshman stopped 45 of 46 Wolverine and Bronco shots on the weekend and did not allow a goal in regulation time. While relatively unchallenged against the University of Michigan, Beef passed they eye test Friday against the #16 (USCHO) Western Michigan Broncos. See the highlights at 1:07 and 2:02 in the video below if you didn't see Friday's game live. Unfortunately, the only goal Redmond allowed over the two-game tournament was the only one WMU needed to win the GLI championship. Redmond was named WCHA Rookie of the Week for his performance.
Defense Proves to be Core of Team
MTU's defensive core was solid both in front of Redmond this weekend and in the offensive zone. Thursday, both MTU goals were scored by defensemen. The first was a wrist shot from Mark Auk (Jr.) at the point which was deflected into the net by his defensive partner and Pittsburgh Penguins draftee Dane Birks (So.). Birks had taken the puck deep into the Michigan zone, and instead of retreating back to the point saw an offensive opportunity in the dirty area in front of the net. The second came from senior captain Cliff Watson.
Overall, MTU outplayed Michigan through almost the whole of Thursday's game. The 2-0 final score does not convey the full domination the Huskies achieved defensively. The game could easily have been 3 (or 4) to 0 with one Joel L'Esperance (F, Jr.) goal which was called off as played with a high stick. The Huskies out-shot Michigan 38-22, and went 5-for-5 on the PK. Tech now holds the 8th-best penalty kill in the nation at 87.2%.
Offensive Questions Arise
While Redmond, Birks and Auk had an excellent tournament defensively, the team struggled with scoring. Thursday against Michigan, the Huskies were unable to get beyond their 2nd goal despite putting 38 shots on net. Birks and Watson were, admittedly, an unlikely source of goals. The goals were each of their first goals of the season. Birks and Watson have 6 and 8 points, respectively. Friday, the Tech offense was unable to find the back of the net once against Ben Blacker (Fr., G - WMU). Despite having back and forth play, Tech was outshot by the Broncos 25-23. Tech went 0-for-5 on the power play Friday, and missed out on both a 5-on-3 opportunity late in the 2nd period and a 5 minute major penalty in overtime. Tech was unable to score with the man advantage at all on the weekend, going 0-for-8 on the power play.
The question which Tech will have to answer against next opponent Notre Dame will be how to convert the strong defensive play which the Huskies showed during the GLI into goals, and eventual wins, against ranked opponents from other leagues.
THG Three Stars of the Weekend:
- Angus "Beef" Redmond - 0.45 Goals Against Average and 97.8% Save Percentage (45 for 46) on the weekend.
- Dane Birks - 2 points (1G, 1A) on Thursday
- Reid Sturos - great effort on the forecheck on both nights.
Tech in the Polls
The Huskies made some movement in the national rankings over the weekend. Tech is down to 24t in the Pairwise Ranking System after a once-high 20t following the UofM victory. MTU has 30 points in the USCHO.com Division I Men's Poll, the top "Honorable Mention" and 46 points shy of breaking into the top 20. In the WCHA standings, #2 MTU trails #1 Bemidji State in conference points 36 to 46, with two conference games in-hand. Tech and BSU are tied for first in the THG Web Media Poll. Angus Redmond was awarded WCHA Rookie of the Week.
Cover photo courtesy of Ryan Johnson.