Expect the unexpected/Inside the Huskies
I wouldn’t want to be the one setting Vegas odds on Michigan Tech hockey games, and I certainly wouldn’t want to be the Huskies’ playoff opponent(s).
As Tech’s roller-coaster regular season comes to a close, it would be hard to find a scarier low-seed team to face entering the playoffs than the unpredictable 10th-place Huskies.
Tech has now beat the first-place team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (this past weekend at St. Cloud State; first win there since 1998), but lost to the last-place team (Alaska Anchorage).
The Huskies beat then-No. 1 Minnesota, but lost three of four games to unranked Minnesota Duluth (currently ninth). They’ve shut out No. 7 Western Michigan 4-0 to win the Great Lakes Invitational, but lost four other games by at least four goals.
Some level of inconsistency should be expected when the top five point-getters are underclassmen and freshman goaltenders have played in a combined 28 games, but those are some crazy peaks and valleys.
UAA and UMD both have one signature win against St. Cloud State, but that’s about it as far as major upsets. Bemidji State, which is currently in 11th, hasn’t beat anyone currently in the top five in the league.
“We know where we’re at, we know we can compete with anybody, we’ve proven that. Consistency is an issue,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said last week. “Now that we’re getting near the end we have a choice to make.”
Just four more games, or up to 12.
“We’ve talked about that a lot, and talked about getting to St. Paul. That’s our goal right now to get to the Final Five. We still can do that,” Pearson said. “We just have to believe in ourselves and play like we can.”
The Huskies have one more regular season series, at home against Colorado College – who they swept in the first round of the playoffs last year – to prepare for the playoffs this year. It’s highly unlikely Tech will know its first-round opponent until after Saturday’s game.
It’ll be a great weekend to scoreboard watch (or follow certain reporters on Twitter), and it’s amazing to think of the possibilities in just the final weekend.
Tech can’t move much – no worse than 11th, no better than ninth – but Wisconsin, for example has an extremely small chance at winning the MacNaughton Cup, but it could also miss home ice in the playoffs.
While it’s always true that anybody can win on any given day, this year seems to embody that concept more than any I can remember, particularly for Tech. Winning a best-of-three series on the road will be a tall task, to be sure, but put the Huskies in a one-game elimination playoff situation, and truly anything can happen. They have a GLI championship to prove it.
“There’s no reason we can’t go out on the road and get a win and go to the Final Five, and once we’re there who knows what can happen,” Tech captain Carl Nielsen said last week.
Though the season has surely been frustrating for many Tech hockey fans, it’s always exciting to think of the what-if scenarios at this time of year. Bet on a great final weekend of the regular season, but I wouldn’t bother betting on the results.
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.