Last week got off to a good start for Michigan Tech. The Huskies were sharp in their preparation for their upcoming series with Minnesota, and they were getting Anthony Schooley back from injury.
Then, just 24 hours before the series with the Gophers was set to begin, everything went south.
Eric Kattelus was dismissed from the squad for violating team rules. With Kattelus gone, and two of the Huskies' top offensive weapons (Brett Olson and Jordan Baker) out with injuries, they headed into the weekend shorthanded.
The lack of leadership and scoring punch was clearly evident in the series opener with Minnesota. Tech got down early and never recovered in a 6-4 loss.
The Huskies came back and played a much better game in the finale. But despite the effort, Tech was unable to come away with a win.
"We had a good week of practice leading up to Minnesota," Tech coach Jamie Russell said. "I think each day we got better. Then the guys come to the rink Thursday and we hit them with a pretty big curve-ball with Eric being dismissed from the program.
"The fallout from that was all the lines were changed. We spent all week working a certain way in how we were approaching the weekend, and then that all goes out the window."
The Huskies were in such dire straits that they had to use five freshmen on their top two lines in Saturday's finale. The rookies, however, held up well considering the circumstances.
Freshman Ryan Furne had a goal each night for Tech. And the rest of his classmates played well despite the two losses.
"You're playing a Big Ten school with a number of NHL draft picks and we're 10 or 11 games into their (the freshmen) college career and five of our top six forwards are freshmen," Russell said. "At the end of the game we've got the goalie pulled, we've got four freshmen forwards and a sophomore defenseman on the ice.
"That's the predicament we're in right now. Those are the guys who deserve to be in that spot. It bodes well for the future, but we've got to get it done here in the present day."
Another freshman who had a good weekend was redshirt forward Milos Gordic. Gordic netted his sixth goal of the season in the opener with Minnesota.
Gordic got off to a fast start last season before missing the final 28 games of the season due to an injury. But judging by the start he's off to this season, he is showing no ill effects from last season's injury.
"Getting an opportunity to play a lot of minutes and playing with good players helps," Gordic said. "I'm just trying to get my big body to the net and get the puck in the net."
K.D. Warvie can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.