Tech must stop stopping to go forward/Inside the Huskies
It seems like every time the Michigan Tech hockey team gets some momentum, it hits a break in the schedule. Which kind of ruins the whole point of momentum.
“You just want to keep playing because we had a break, then the (Great Lakes Invitational), a break, Duluth, Bemidji, now a break,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “It’s like stop and go. It’s like you’re trying to drive down the highway at 60 and then you have to stop. Then you get going 60 again and you have to stop again.”
This time, to keep the momentum from a three-point weekend against Bemidji State and bridge the gap to its next series at Nebraska-Omaha, the coaching staff came up with the idea of an intrasquad scrimmage this Saturday at Dee Stadium.
“We hadn’t done it with the breaks this year and I thought we were a little flat out of the breaks, so we just decided we’d like to get a game,” Pearson said. “We did one in Calumet, we’d like to do one in the Houghton/Hancock area and just because of the ice time and availability … we decided to go to the Dee, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Saturday’s game, which will still feature plenty of intensity due to battles for playing time, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Even better news? Temperatures will be back above zero – maybe even the teens!
Having an intrasquad game worked last year after the Christmas break and before a Jan. 13-14 series against Alaska-Anchorage, one of two regular season sweeps.
This year, Tech needs to do something to keep the momentum. After sweeping Bemidji State earlier this year, Tech followed the Thanksgiving break with an 0-4-3 record before the GLI. Then after sweeping at the GLI and another week off, Tech got swept in Duluth.
The Huskies (7-12-4, 4-10-4 WCHA) desperately need points from every series the rest of the way, and its next one is Feb. 1-2 at Nebraska-Omaha, which swept Tech at home Nov. 2-3.
The whole purpose of the game is simply to keep the team sharp, since goaltending and defense have finally started to show signs of heading in the right direction.
“I’m pleased with a lot of things going on, especially our team defense and goals against,” Pearson said. “We’re starting to see that come down and that’s critical moving forward to having success in the second half.”
Pheonix Copley’s three shutouts in his last six starts have certainly helped, and the freshman’s goals against average is down to 2.86 and save percentage up to .909 percent. His save percentage was a WCHA-worst .855 just a month ago.
“He’s obviously played extremely well. The thing I want to see him do is do it on a consistent basis, weekend to weekend, game to game,” Pearson said. “He had the shutouts at the GLI, then Duluth he had a setback on Saturday, but this weekend I thought he made another step forward. He’s emerging as the No. 1.”
Accordingly, the team’s goals against average was fifth-worst nationally at 3.71 just a month ago. It’s now down to 3.09.
Now the Huskies just have to keep that momentum. So, instead of taking the highway, driving 60 and stopping, Tech is jumping on the Interstate, and with no more breaks the rest of the way, it hopes the Interstate can finally helping them string success together and take them straight to the WCHA Final Five.
Stephen Anderson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/steander and interact throughout the week about Tech hockey with the #mtuhky hashtag.