Sunday, October 26, 2008

Teenage Angst

A wild Friday evening at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, filled with penalties and much whining by the U-18 Team. They supposedly have some of the best talent in junior hockey, but they sure as hell don't have the sportsmanship or class. I guess that's what happens when you put a bunch of prima donnas on the same squad.

Tech started strong out of the gate, picking up an early PP goal off a rebound that was buried by freshman Brett Olson, with assists from Alex Gagne and Deron Cousens.

John Kivisto made it 2-0 early in the second period with an awesome shot from the inside the top half of the left circle. Who knew the guy had it in him? Olson and Geoff Kinrade picked up assists on the play.

RPI recruit Jerry D'Amigo cut Tech's lead in half on a shot that evaded Robinson with just over five minutes left to play in the second, but the Huskies regained the two-goal lead when sophomore Eric Kattelus wristed a bullet over Haxwell's left shoulder. The goal again came on the powerplay, with assists from Drew Dobson and Eli Vlaisavljevich (yes, I looked up the spelling).

The third period scoring began with Gwilliam capping off Tech's scoring, apparently poking in a puck that Haxwell mishandled (my interpretation from what I could see sitting in Section N). That turned out to be the game-winner, when UNH commit Ryan Bourque scored twice in the final two minutes of regulation to bring the U-18s within a goal, but not close enough.

Haxwell? He's not just a goaltender, he likes rough play too! He hauled down a Tech player (once again, I didn't see who it was from my end of the ice) and held him there for a good five seconds while the refs stared off into space and didn't call anything. Of course, a makeup call came a bit later on, but still, pretty funny shit. I'm sure Jerry York will approve of such play when he shows up at BC. (/sarcasm)

The game was a penalty-fest, with the high schoolers acting like a bunch of little pussies once they had dug themselves into a big hole, hacking it up all over the ice. Of course, Russell wisely did not allow the Huskies to throw any serious punches (for obvious reasons), though I was pretty sure Ryan Bunger would've been more than happy to rearrange BC commit Kenny Ryan's face, after he jumped on Bunger's back and started cheapshotting him without even taking his own helmet off.


Kids these days...

Anyway, exhibition hockey is finally over with, and next week we're hosting the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves for a pair of WCHA games in Houghton. UAA is 4-1-1 through their first six regular season games, including a 3-1 defeat of Maine, and a 3 pt. weekend at home against the Bulldogs of Duluth. This is shaping up to be a tough Anchorage squad that MTU should not take lightly, like they did last season. Coming out flying and playing a consistent, strong 60 minutes of hockey should be the goal for both nights.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

To Our Injured Huskies

Over 20% of the team is out with injuries right now. That's um... that's a lot of guys that we need to be healthy instead of hurt. I wanted to do something special for them... maybe send a card or something, but we all know I'm too lazy for that. So I looked online for 'get well soon' images. As expected, there were teddy bears and balloons, roses and sunshines, other flowers and hearts. Then I found something that would be more likely to appeal to the team and that fits the situation a little better.

Before I get to that, here's a breakdown of the player outages that Michigan Tech is currently experiencing -

  • Schwarz: Up to 8 weeks, depending on how he heals
  • Angelow: Sounds like 2-4 more weeks
  • St. Louis: Not playing this weekend, sounds questionable for UAA
  • Reddick: 6-8 weeks
  • Licktieg: 4-6 months
  • Doriott: 2-4 weeks

(Special thanks to F2B&G for compiling that information since I'm too lazy to)

So to my injured guys, I leave you with this...

No, I don't know why her ass is throbbing, but that's not the issue here. Just listen to her, guys!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

"Pat, I'd Like To Buy A Goal..."

Make that multiple goals.

This weekend was not the greatest way to start conference play, but it could've been much worse. Indeed, the Huskies were swept by the #3 Colorado College Tigers, 2-0 and 4-2.

On Friday evening, the stellar play of senior goaltender Rob Nolan kept the Huskies alive for most of the game. He stopped 36 of 38 shots, including 18 shots alone in the 2nd period, making several outstanding saves. Unfortunately, the offense gave him absolutely no support after the first 10 minutes of the game, with the Tigers spending a majority of the time in the MTU zone. CC's Scott McCulloch capitalized on a shorthanded breakaway after poking the puck away from Deron Cousens at the blueline and skating it down the ice, deking right and beating Nolan five-hole with a backhand. That goal turned out to be the game winner. Alex Gagne fanned on what was probably the best opportunity all night for the Huskies to beat reigning WCHA Player/Rookie of the Year, CC sophomore goaltender Richard Bachman, taking just one second too long to shoot the puck.

Saturday evening, Tech started out slow, handing the Tigers a goal in the first five minutes of the game and beginning the parade to the sin bin that has become all too familiar with Husky teams as of late. Bachman robbed Ryan Bunger with a diving save on Tech's best offensive chance in the first period. Finally, in the second period, sophomore Jordan Baker got MTU on the board, poking the puck home in the midst of a crease fustercluck, with freshman Alex MacLeod picking up his first collegiate assist after scoring two PP markers last weekend, and sophomore Bennett Royer also grabbing his first assist of the year. Unfortunately, a mistake by the Tech defense early in the third allowed Bill Sweatt to capitalize on a pass from Eric Walsky, skating in behind the defenders and wristing a shot into the top-corner of the net over Nolan's left shoulder. Steve Schultz extended CC's lead to two goals with a PP marker about halfway through the third.

The Huskies called their TO and pulled Nolan with 2:31 to play in regulation. The move paid off when freshman Brett Olson scored his first collegiate goal, firing the puck through traffic and past Bachman with 21 seconds remaining. Unfortunately, CC iced the game with a long-range ENG that slipped into the empty net with about 2 seconds left on the clock, leading to the final score.

Overall, Tech played two tough road games against the pre-season favorite to repeat as WCHA champions. On Friday the offense failed to get anything going, and on Saturday the Tigers' talent simply prevailed. I'm looking forward to the Winter Carnival matchup slated between these two teams here in Houghton. Maybe all it'll take is a little of the Huskies Pep Band and the Misfits to get Bachman to cough up five goals again. ;)

The U-18 kids are in town next weekend, which should be a good exhibition tune-up to help ensure we don't completely embarass ourselves by not sweeping the Seawolves out of the MacInnes the following weekend. It'll also allow time for lingering injuries to do some healing before four straight WCHA series against Anchorage, Wee-sconsin, Arrogance!!1!11, and the Landcows.

Monday, October 13, 2008

"You Can't Always Get What You Want...

...but if you try sometimes, you might find, you get what you need." ~Mick Jagger

First of all, props to Yager for the awesome photo.

So we wanted to sweep this weekend, but of course, we didn't. Red Light Robbie struck again, but thankfully the weekend wasn't a total waste of my time and money.

After Nolan's questionable performance on Friday night, Josh Robinson (or "Robo", as he apparently goes by in the locker room) got the nod on Saturday against the Lakers and notched his first collegiate W with a solid performance that included a few clutch saves to preserve the one-goal victory.

I am proud of this team though. Even after Rob began playing head games with himself right out of the gate, the Huskies in front of him never really gave up and it eventually paid off when they scored the final two goals of the evening; they needed that. They didn't whine about some pussy little finger injury in order to get a break (I'm looking at you Brian Stewart), and only took one penalty the whole night. They delivered big hits, battled hard in the corners, and deserved better than what they got.

A lot of the NMU fans I ran into on Friday were serious douchebags. No, I'm not talking about any of the Puckheads - they're the cool, diehard fans (even if I do hate their team). I'm referring to those drunk bandwagon 'fans' who only show up to rivalry games to antagonize the opposing fanbase and aren't really there to watch hockey. They would do better to stay out of the arena in the future.

Saturday night, Tech went up twice only to give up the tying goals thereafter. They overcame a nasty CFB on Geoff Kinrade towards the end of the second period that drew blood and sent him to the locker room for stitches, head bandages, and a fresh jersey. Kinner insisted on coming out to play the third and still battled out there, playing solid shifts. The Huskies peppered LSSU goalie Brian Mahoney-Wilson with shots and finally, with about five minutes remaining in regulation, Jordan Baker banged home a rebound off a quick shorthanded rush led by Drew Dobson and the team never looked back.

With only a few exceptions, the LSSU fans I ran into were classy in spite of their team's loss and the fact that seven guys managed to turn their arena into MacInnes East. Of course, the fact that one particular group of them were relatives of Chris Conner may have had something to do with my impression. ;)

Also, it'd be awesome if there could be a battle of the LSSU band and the Huskies Pep Band sometime in the future, though I'm not sure exactly how it would go down since bands technically aren't allowed to play in opposing hockey arenas anymore, and I doubt the home team would want them there anyway in most cases. That banner above prompted one of their 'tones to come running over and tell us to bring our band next time, and we would have a throwdown. :D

The WCHA schedule gets rolling this weekend with a pair of games against the Tigers out in Colorado Springs. Jamie Russell seems to think the NMU debacle wasn't entirely Nolan's fault, so it's very likely that Robbie will get a chance to redeem himself on Friday evening, squaring off against reigning WCHA Player (and Rookie) of the Year, Richard Bachman. I'm sure the Tigers' offense will put up plenty of shots on the big ice, so if he's up to task, he should be able to get a rythym going. If not, look for Robo between the pipes on Saturday, with a chance for the Huskies to light up CC's backup Drew O'Connell.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Preview of What's to Come?

Sigh. We lost our exhibition game to Toronto. Embarrassing.

Is this a preview of what's to come?? No. I'm sure Coach Russell was just seeing what a lot of the freshmen are made of. Goaltending was the difference in this game. Nolan turned in a .8125 save percentage for the night while Brownell, Toronto's goalie, was able to manage .976, despite our best efforts to lower that.

The Huskies were also not physical enough. There were a few hits, but not enough. We need someone to step up and act as a Batty. There just wasn't the jump in their skate stride like there should be!

The passing looked pretty sloppy at times. It was definitely frustrating to watch. Luckily it's only the beginning of the season. Luckily that game didn't count. There's some time left yet to get to where we should be.

And our powerplay? Ugh. There really isn't too much good to say about it. There were 2 times of a minute or more of 5 on 3, and we did NOTHING with it.

Hopefully we'll be looking a lot better next weekend. Key to beating NMU: FINISHING. Let's work on finding the back of the net!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Meet Your Freshmen 2008: Brett Olson

First of all, I'd like to thank Brett Olson for this entry. Without him, this wouldn't be possible. Not only did he answer my questions, but he has unknowingly provided me with a photo of him to use... because for whatever reason, his roster pic isn't up yet.

As usual, we'll get things started off with some words from Coach Russell. Coach thinks Brett "will be an impact player. [He is] already 21 but a late bloomer. Brett has some great leadership qualities."

I for one am very excited to see what Brett has to offer the Huskies, not only this season, but for the following three years also. If he's as good at hockey as he is doing interviews, it's going to be an amazing 4 years!

Position: Center
Last Team: Waterloo (USHL)
Hometown: Superior, WI
Birthday: 2/19/1987
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 175 lbs

THB: Was there any other place you had your sites on… like… UMD?
Brett Olson (BO): Yes, there were other places that had been recruiting me. UMD was one of them. My goal was to play in the WCHA, so when the opportunity presented itself I felt that Michigan Tech would be a great fit. [I'm glad you picked us over Daloot. Especially since you were amazing at doing this interview!]

THB: What do you think about Houghton and Michigan Tech so far?
BO: I really like the Houghton area as well as Michigan Tech. The area is pretty similar to my hometown and not too far away. Michigan Tech is a great place to get an education and the campus isn't very big so it's easy to get around and the people are friendly as well as interesting.

THB: What are your expectations of your hockey coaching staff for this season?
BO: My expectations of the coaching staff are very positive. I like what they have done with the program over that last few years. Getting to know them and experience their insight for the game is something I look forward to being apart of. I expect they will push me and help me develop as a person and player.

THB: Do you have an unusual talent or interesting fact about you that you’d be willing to share with the Tech Hockey Blog readers?
BO: I guess I wouldn't say I have an unusual talent but an interesting fact might be that I have a chocolate lab back home and he doesn't play fetch. That's kind of weird, might be interesting.

THB: Did you watch a lot of the 2008 Summer Olympics?
BO: Yes, that's all I had on TV from when it started to the finish. I think it's probably the greatest event in the world and can't wait for the Winter Olympics next.

THB: How is dorm life treating you?
BO: Pretty good, but it's still early.

THB: What would you do if you had a million dollars?
BO: I have no idea. Maybe save it for a rainy day.

THB: What’s your favorite TV show?
BO: Everybody Loves Raymond. [Oh geez. Well at least you didn't say Will and Grace.]

THB: Compare your hometown of Duluth, MN to that of Houghton, MI.
BO: Actually, I'm from Superior, WI which is right across the bridge from Duluth. My hometown is about twice the size of Houghton and you don't have to walk up or downhill everywhere there. The outdoors are very similar and we are right on Lake Superior so there are a few similarities. [Hm. I guess I got some false information before I sent this out. PS, Duluth is way better than Superior. If I had known you were from Superior, I would've asked you another question... pertaining to deer... of the dead type.]

THB: What can you tell me about Mitch’s Misfits?
BO: From what I saw while I was on my visit up here a year ago they seem like a very energetic group and get into the game. It's nice to have fans like that.

THB: Do you ever spontaneously break out into movie quotes?
BO: Yes. [Apparently not Office Space ones though... even when being set up... :P]

THB: What is the greatest number of times in which you have skipped a rock?
BO: Maybe 8. I haven't skipped a rock in a long time.

THB: What team are you most excited about beating this season?
BO: UMD, because it's basically going back to my hometown.

THB: Tell us your feelings on the skating treadmill.
BO: I don't want to talk about the skating treadmill. [Aww... it isn't THAT bad now, is it? You may hate what it does to you, Brett... but the rest of the Tech fans love it.]

THB: What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
BO: Nothing, I have never had a Klondike Bar. [You know, I don't think I've ever had one either... but I would at least do a jumping jack or something for one. It's gotta be worth at least that.]

THB: What are your favorite websites to visit?
BO: YouTube and Hockey websites.

THB: Does the noise and energy level of your home crowd affect the way you play the game?
BO: I definitely think that noise and energy level can create a home-ice advantage and is always great to have on your side, but you have to be prepared to play the game how you play it every night anywhere.

THB: What was the best feeling you’ve ever had while playing hockey?
BO: I have two. Winning the Anderson Cup with my Jr. team the Waterloo Blackhawks in the USHL and winning the Wisconsin State Hockey Championship twice with my high school. [Um... Brett.. I think that adds up to three...]

THB: Do you like to play video games? If so, which ones?
BO: I'm not really a "gamer" but will play a game or two here and there.

THB: Do any of your other family members play hockey?
BO: Yes, both my younger sister and brother.

THB: Is there anything you’d like to say to all the Michigan Tech fans out there?
BO: I am looking forward to a successful season and excited to get underway. I know we have a very loyal, energetic, and knowledgeable fan base and can't wait to play in front of them. For Mitch's Misfits, don't be afraid to do a little homework on the teams coming in to play us. Find some dirt on the other guys; get into their heads. It can be pretty hilarious when the whole crowd is chirping guys on the other teams.

I've been doing these interviews for three years now... and this may be the best one I've ever gotten back. Thanks again, Brett!