Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Huskies Pep Band to be OFFICIAL WCHA Final Five Band... AGAIN!

That's correct. The Michigan Tech Huskies Pep Band will be BACK for a second year at the Red Baron 2007 WCHA Final Five at the Xcel Center.

Last year, it was looking like many of the teams that were probably going to make the tournament weren't going to have bands there. The WCHA knew they had to do something about it... Preventing any sort of situation where two teams without bands would be meeting. What kind of college hockey atmosphere would that be? The WCHA then decided to call upon NCAA's finest pep band to entertain the crowd. The Huskies Pep Band would be deemed the "Official Band of the 2006 WCHA Final Five." Their purpose there was not to be the band of any team who didn't bring a band, but to be there to entertain, play for, and harrass all equally.

While in St. Paul, the Huskies Pep Band also weaseled their way into the annual St. Patrick's Day Parade, where they gained a plethora of fans. They were quite the hit and even made it on the local news. Look for them in the parade once again this year.

Last year's appearance at the Final Five went over very well for the HPB. Fans of all schools enjoyed the atmosphere they brought, along with their witty antics (although, Jordan Parise's mom may not have appreciated it as much...). Recently, the WCHA has come back the Huskies Pep Band, asking them once again to return to St. Paul to be the official band of the Final Five. Though the Pep Band has every intention of returning to St. Paul this year, they might have to decline being the Official Band of the WCHA Final Five... and instead, just be the Official Band of the Michigan Tech Husky Hockey Team, who reportedly have decided that they would like to make an appearance or two at the X this year.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Michigan Tech Ranked 18th in USCHO.com/CSTV Poll!

From Michigan Tech Athletics:

Huskies Ranked in Top 20 for First Time Since October

HOUGHTON, Mich. -- For the second time this season, the Michigan Tech men's ice hockey team has cracked the top 20 in the USCHO.com/CSTV poll, released today. The Huskies received 127 points to rank 18th in of the two NCAA Division I college hockey polls. Tech also garnered 14 votes in the "Others Receiving Votes" portion of the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll.

The Huskies pushed their home unbeaten streak (6-0-2) to eight games and kept their quest for a Western Collegiate Hockey Association home playoff berth alive with a two-game sweep of defending national champion Wisconsin at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena last Friday (Feb. 23) and Saturday (Feb. 24). Michigan Tech owns a 15-14-5 overall record, and is above .500 for the first time since since Dec. 1, when it held a 6-5-2 mark.

Next on the docket for the Huskies is a twin bill against the first-place Minnesota Golden Gophers at Mariucci Arena this Friday (Mar. 2) and Saturday (Mar. 3). Both games are slated to begin at 8:07 p.m. EST.

The USCHO.com/CSTV poll is compiled by U.S. College Hockey Online, and consists of 40 voters, including 28 coaches from the Division I conferences and 12 beat writers from across the country. The poll is published weekly by the Associated Press.

The 12th annual USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Men’s College Hockey Poll is conducted each week in conjunction with the American Hockey Coaches Association. The poll includes input from coaches and journalists representing each of the six NCAA Division I ice hockey conferences, as well as composite votes from officers of the American Hockey Coaches
Association and USA Hockey Magazine, the most widely distributed hockey magazine in the world.

Notes: Back on October 30, 2006, the Huskies earned 31 points to hold the 15th spot in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, while receiving 165 points to rank 18th in the USCHO.com/CSTV poll … Tech is tied with Minnesota State for sixth in the WCHA standings with 25 points … The Huskies have played two less games than the Mavericks … Michigan Tech could finish anywhere from fourth to eighth in the WCHA standings, depending on the results of its final two regular-season games … The last time the Huskies visited Mariucci Arena on Jan. 21-22, 2005, they left with a two-game sweep (6-3, 3-1) … Both games this weekend will be televised on Fox Sports Net North … Frank Mazzocco will call the play-by-play, with Doug Woog providing color commentary.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Senior Night was a Success and a Sweep!

Could the night have been any better? What a great way to end the 2006-2007 regular season at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. With a 4-2 win over #19 Wisconsin, Tech completes yet ANOTHER sweep this season.

This game started out to be a crazy one. The Huskies' first goal came from Tyler Shelast at the :49 mark of the first period on the first shot of the game. Less than a minute later at 1:41, Justin St. Louis notches his second goal of the weekend and third of this season. Brian Elliott was immediately pulled and replaced by Shane Connelly. Elliott didn't even last two minutes...

Each Husky senior earned one point tonight. Tyler Skworchinski and Lars Helminen each had an assist, while Mike Batovanja got his second goal of the season.

Sweeping UW came at the most crucial time. Home ice is not out of reach. Unfortunately, UMN stands between Tech and home ice (not to mention UND and/or CC losing). And seeing as how the SCSU Huskies swept UMN this past weekend, the Gophers are VERY hungry for points to clinch the MacNaughton cup. They need at least a win to seal the deal.

Here's to hoping the team can get the job done this weekend. Oh, and let's go DU and SCSU!

Saturday, February 24, 2007

We Want More TV Time!

Michigan Tech fan Richard Hall enjoys watching the Huskies play. He only wishes that he could share the joy with his friends and family back home in Spring Lake, Michigan, which is located in the lower peninsula.

FSN Detroit has great coverage of the Michigan-based CCHA teams, especially Michigan and Michigan State, which is a great hockey rivalry. Hall got to thinking... why not broadcast another great college hockey rivalry here in Michigan. While many people have the same thought cross their mind, no one will take initiative and do anything. Not Hall, however. He is the creator of the Petition to FSD to televise the MTU-NMU hockey series every year.

Who knows whether or not it will work. There can't be any harm in trying though! So whether you're a Michigan Tech, Northern Michigan, Boston College, Robert Morris fan, or just a college hockey fan in general, support this movement,

Sign the online petition today.

Photo courtesy of Anthony Reynolds

Bring the Boys Back Home


Looks like our guys have found something that's working. A beautiful performance holding the Badgers to a 2-0 shutout. Michael-Lee Teslak continues his career of ridiculous saves. Unfortunately, though, we found out that our 5-on-3 is more horrendous than the 5-on-4 powerplay. Save a few burst blood vessels by Badger coach Mike Eaves and some chippy play, especially by Jack Skille, nothing too out of the ordinary these days.

What a night in the rest of the hockey world as well. Notre Dame secured their first CCHA regular season title last week, and then went and lost to Ferris State 5-2. Not something for the #1 team to do this close to the end of the season. Denver held down North Dakota in overtime, St. Cloud anihilated the WCHA best Gophers 5-1, Minnesota State embarrassed CC, and Duluth proved that their season isn't a complete waste against Anchorage. What a situation this generates in the points. I'm not one to buy into the whole calculating every mathematical possibility thing, but if Denver holds fast tomorrow night, and North Dakota gives up their two final games to St. Cloud, all our Huskies need to do is finish off the Badgers, defeat the Gophers once, preferably twice, and pray that Duluth can overcome Wisconsin. What's even better is, since St. Cloud took this game, if they win their next 3, they will eek out a conference title by one point. Granted, a win against the Gophers in Minneapolis will be slightly more difficult than winning at home, but hey, anything is possible.

I guess the premise of this was for me to kid myself into holding on to what little hope still exists for getting to see my Huskies face the (insert choice derragatory adjective here) Sioux in Houghton for the playoffs. Heck, if things go slightly less than perfect, there's still a chance for me to get to go down to Madison to brave the Kohl Center once again. I'm going to refrain from being too much of a speculator though. Baby steps, my friends, baby steps.

One would assume that Rob Nolan will be holding down the fort tomorrow night, and the best of luck to him. Mike Eaves probably shit a brick on the Badger bench, and I'm guessing a few faces were stuck in it after the game. We'll see how things go, and save the speculation for tomorrow

Oh, and the Red Wings gave up their 13 game winning streak despite every attempt by the officials to throw the game in their favor. Way to screw it up and keep the Oilers alive.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Michigan Tech is Team of the Week

From College Hockey News:

by Adam Wodon/Managing Editor

Michigan Tech head coach Jamie Russell has taken this week to do something he doesn't get a chance to do much anymore — see recruits play in person.

The Huskies have a week off, a weekend after taking three points from Denver and matching the program's highest win total since 1998. It has also creeped close to the ever-important Top 14 in the Pairwise, and earned CHN's Team of the Week honors.

"It's an opportunity for me to get out and see some games," said Russell, who used to pound the recruiting trail regularly as an assistant coach for Cornell. "The his and lows of recruiting are every bit like the games. When you get a big one, you're ecstatic, when you lose one, it's tough sledding."

It's been tough sledding for Tech in recent years, a far cry from the glory days of the '60s and '70s, when National Championships were relatively frequent. But while still far from competing for a title, the program is back on the upswing, and last weekend left the Huskies wanting more. It could easily have had a sweep of the Pioneers were it not for a slap shot from near center ice that skipped its way past Tech goaltender Rob Nolan.

"We're definitely making progress," Russell said. "Our team defense is very good, the penalty kill is very good, but flip it around, and we don't score a whole lot. Our power play is up and down, but last weekend, it was up."

Russell is pulling this off with the same kind of mentality that drove the Cornell machine when he worked there four years as an assistant coach — bringing in 18 players over the last two recruiting classes, targeting great character players who work hard and are physical.

"They're the core of our team now," Russell said. "They've turned things round. And with each class, we add a little more speed and skill. And I think we have one of the best classes coming in next fall."

Players like Geoff Kinrade, a defenseman leading the team in plus-minus, have made great inroads. Russell points to junior Tyler Shelast as well.

"There's a lot of similarities (with Cornell)," Russell said. "Our philosophy is similar — our systems are completely different.

"We're big, physical, strong defensively, our PK is outstanding, we're not going to score 5-6 goals a game. Who does that sound like? Our forecheck is different, our 'D' zone coverage is different, our neutral zone forecheck is different, but our approach to the game in terms of a pack mentality is the same.

Michigan Tech had a nice start to the season, going 5-1 and sweeping Vermont on the road at one point. Then came a rough stretch in the middle of the season, which included a pair of clunkers in the Great Lakes Invitational. A 3-2 loss to Harvard in the consolation game was considered the low point, and goalie Michael-Lee Teslak had his worst game of the season. The Huskies lost 8-of-10, with the only wins being two on the road at North Dakota.

Since then, they've been 5-2-3.

"We're a young team and we're learning," Russell said. "There's a fine line between winning and losing."

That early-season stretch included a rare 14-goal weekend, consisting of a 9-0 win over Alaska-Anchorage.

"I wish we could've saved some of those," Russell said. "If you could get every bounce possible, we got it. Then we tied Mankato a couple weeks ago, and we hit four crossbars."

Bye Bye Bye Week

If this were a good blog, I'd come up with something clever and/or creative to keep the few readers here occupied. Unfortunately for you, this isn't a good blog, and I am anything but creative. Maybe if you get lucky, I'll spit something containing a little creativity out during the next few days, but don't get too hopeful, I wouldn't want to let anyone down.

Not much interesting going on in Husky-land, except for the holding of the breath as we pay attention to the other WCHA games taking place. Home ice is a stretch, but some interesting turnouts this weekend could help contribute to a favorable finish to the season. With the standings where they are now, there's a good chance we could end up going anywhere as close as Madison to as far away as Colorado Springs. I'll see what I can do to keep you all posted, because I know you're on the edge of your seat waiting for the next update.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Pouty Pioneers Post Single Point

What a Winter Carnival weekend. After losing last year to a perennially strong University of Minnesota, the Huskies faced an equally formidable challenge with the University of Denver Pioneers making the trip to Houghton this year. Both games proved to be two of the most entertaining and exciting hockey games this season, but a Don Adam-like performance put on by official Marco Hunt allowed for two of the chippiest and dirty games this year as well.

The Pioneers and Huskies came out strong Friday night, allowing only a total of 6 shots on goal total in the first period. Both teams played a very physical, fast-paced game, and with few calls to keep them in check, the hits kept on coming. Scoring was sparse, with the Huskies taking a 2-1 advantage despite being outshot 24-16. Friday night brought some of the best defensive play by the Huskies as well, as most everything Denver threw at the net ended up bouncing off a Husky stick, knee pad or skate. The Pioneers felt the calls were somewhat one-sided, and ended the game on a sour note.

Senior forward Mike Handza decided to share a few choice names with Husky sophomore Justin St. Louis, apparently offended by the fact that St. Louis is black. He then hit St. Louis in the facemask three times, and threw a major temper-tantrum when Hunt finally decided to put him into the penalty box. Handza continued complaining, opening the penalty box door multiple times to argue with the officials and share more words with Jordan Foote and other Huskies near the scene. After the game, Coach George Gwozdecky decided to purchase some ice cream for his angry Pioneers back at their hotel, and another player also felt it necessary to remodel his room by adding a handmade hole to the wall.

Saturday evening brought the conclusion to the Winter Carnival series. A large crowd showed up once again to witness another nail biter, as the Huskies and Pioneers remained neck-and-neck for most of the evening. Curiosly absent from the game was Handza, taken off the ice during warmups. Denver came out hitting once again, losing freshman Brian Gifford to a checking from behind call early. The scoring remained even at 3-3 until Malcolm Gwilliam was able to find the back of the net on Glenn Fisher, who replaced Peter Mannino after two periods. The Huskies maintained their lead until Pioneer Chris Butler was able to fire a fast, bouncing puck at Rob Nolan, proving to be too hard of a read for the Husky goaltender. Both teams remained in a stalemate for the rest of the game, as well as the 5 minute overtime period, ending in a 4-4 tie.

The Huskies left the weekend with 3 more extremely vital WCHA points, as well as their latest Winter Carnival trophy, after missing it last year. Senior defenseman and captain Lars Helminen was chosen as the MVP, after spending a spectacular weekend both offensively and defensively, collecting points on three of the four goals Saturday, and one of the two Friday.

The Huskies are headed for a weekend off before facing the University of Wisconsin Badgers at home and finishing off the regular season in Minneapolis against the Gophers. The remaining 8 points will as usual be hard fought, but are more than within reach. Provided no more officiating farces like the one we saw this weekend occur, the end of the season should be quite exciting. The possibility of acquiring home playoff ice does not look very promising right now, but a run for the WCHA Final Five is not out of the picture with as well as the Huskies have been playing.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Miracles Can Happen, But Don't Count On It

So, the Huskies went to another lowly Minnesota team that should have been an easy weekend, and what comes from it? Another debacle, resulting in a loss of 3 potential points. Just as with the trip to Duluth, which lost this team 4 points that would have us comfortably in 5th. Combine those potential 4 points with the 3 we could have gotten this weekend, and we'd be tied with CC for 4th.

I don't want to be all gloomy and depressing, but the Huskies have failed to turn things around in many places where they could have made tremendous strides to a truly great finish. I realize last year at this time, we were looking at a bottom-of-the-ladder spot, and barely had any wins, but still, this is the team that had the hockey public in Houghton on their toes after that fabulous start earlier in the season. I can see going to Denver and only coming out with 1 point, but making a trip to Mankato and doing so? Driving 5 hours to Duluth and getting swept? I think we should be upset that we didn't get to go to St. Cloud or face North Dakota at home. We probably could have taken 2 points apiece in those series, and I don't understand why.

So, to continue the upbeat theme of this entry, we'll look at the rest of the season. Let me tell you, its not a pretty picture. The Huskies still have a weekend off, so like UND and SCSU, which teams were able to gain ground on, everyone behind the Huskies will have a chance to close gaps, and those in front make them larger. The next three series don't scream success either, as the #2 Denver team comes to town for Winter Carnival. Though the strong showing in the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena may help the guys out, Denver always seems to always seems to find ways to win, as they did at home this year, despite being outshot. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they gave up their last game to UMD 6-4, so there is hope.

The week after that, the Badgers make the trip up from Madison for a series that no one can make any guesses on. They are currently sitting behind the Huskies in the standings, and they play well enough to say that we may beat them, and crappy enough to say that we may lose to them (if we go off of the beat good teams, lose to crappy teams model). Those two games will more than likely be extremely hard fought, and more than worth the price of admittance.

Then comes the off weekend, and after that, one final trip to Mariucci Arena to visit Don Lucia's Golden Gophers. The Gophers aren't the same vicious rodents as the beginning of the season. They gave games to Wisconsin and Denver, and a series to UND. Hopefully Jeff Frazee is still having trouble stopping clearing passes, but the perennial favorites will more than likely be the biggest challege since they were in Houghton in December. There is a potential for points, but the Huskies are going to really have to get it together before they make a trip following an off weekend to face *#1 (pending the next three weekends, where they may screw up more).

What can these issues be attributed to? First of all, there is a huge lack of consistency in the lines. Skworch, Footer, and Kerr seem to be the only solid line on the team. The D-men are pretty shook up after a few injuries, and the forwards cycle spots on lines more than they cycle the puck on the powerplay. Coach Russell has a thing for throwing around St. Louis, Axtell and Lord based on their play, and if they aren't playing well enough to deserve a spot, I'm all for it. This Saturday, though, John Kivisto made his first start, while Axtell and St. Louis sat out. St. Louis was supposed to be a major help, and Axtell's probably finding his legs, but what are these guys doing so wrong, and why aren't they motivated to fix it? It would be wonderful to see some geling with ever line, as most anyone on the team can produce goals, but if they don't want to play to a level that Russell thinks will earn them ice time, then I don't see any other alternative.

Another issue the Huskies seem to have is Olympic-size (200x100 foot) ice sheets. CC, MSUM, UAA, Minnesota, SCSU, NMU and Wisconsin (200x97) have Olympic sheets in their home arenas. This year, the Huskies are 1-5-1 on Olympic ice, and have shown poor results in the past on the bigger sheet. That extra 15 feet does so much to the game, and in my personal opinion, in a world where most all of the players would like to end up in the NHL, where ice is 200x85 feet, I think we should stick with NHL size ice. This is sort of like the whole metric-English units thing, though, where the bigger sheet is more "hip" and "progressive" since international hockey is played on the bigger surface, reducing checking and promoting positional defense, while the U.S. and Canada still hold on to the largest hockey league in the world, and the smaller, more exciting ice. The change in size shouldn't be so much of a bother for a skilled team, so it looks as if the Huskies have some work to do on their game. What we really need to do is waste some of that hockey enrichment fund on an Olympic size practice sheet behind the JMSIA so the summer progams, local schools and Tech's intramural program can have some more ice time. That's just my humble opinion, though.

So there's a long road ahead. It is "mathematically" possible to get home ice, but don't get your hopes up. Looks like we'll have to spend another year making the trip somewhere else, and maybe next year the team can pull it together and get those easy, critical points when they need them most.

Bad Week for Tech Players

Now is probably not a good time for me to be writing this, although it's better than if I had written it a couple hours ago.

Rough weekend for our dear Huskies. Really rough. Just when things were going right and we took 3 points from Colorado College last week, this weekend against Minnesota State, Mankato seemed like the perfect time to give us a little boost up into 5th place in the WCHA, making home ice playoffs very much within reach. Well, so much for that, eh?

Tech fell 0-2 after the first period of Friday's game. Luckily, they picked it right back up and were able to put away two goals. Then came my least favorite part of Michigan Tech hockey... OT. Although Michigan Tech outshot Mankato 39-16, they were rewarded with nothing more than a tie, as MSUM goaltender Zacharias stood tall (something I always wished I would be able to do).

Saturday was basically the opposite of Friday. Tech scored first this time. MSUM carried play for most of the game. Overtime came around and the 1-1 tie would be broken. The decision went in favor of Mankato, who was the harder working team that game. Robby Nolan played a GREAT game, but sadly couldn't carry the whole team. Unfortunately, Mankato got the W.

Since the Huskies only got ONE point out of the weekend, they're going to need nothing short of some miracles in the home stretch of the regular season if they still want home ice playoffs. It isn't going to be easy. These three points they missed out on this weekend REALLY hurt.

Denver will be making the trip to Houghton this weekend for the Winter Carnival series. Tech always plays well for that. Let's hope they can play well enough to take a couple of points this weekend.