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Huskies still on the brink of success/Inside the Huskies

Inside the Huskies

January 3, 2012
By Stephen Anderson , The Daily Mining Gazette

Michigan Tech hockey coach Mel Pearson is the first to admit the playing-well-but-coming-up-short outcome is starting to sound like a broken record.

But the results continue to speak for themselves.

The Huskies are 1-6 in their last seven games - six of those games against ranked teams - but they have been within a goal in the third period every time.

"We played deep into the third periods of all those games. We're right there," Pearson said. "There's no question that we can play with those teams - we just have to find a way to win those close games in the third period. If we get on a roll and get a few bounces, we're going to be a team to be reckoned with in the second half (of the season)."

The Huskies have one of the toughest schedules in college hockey in the second half, including trips to Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota and Colorado College, but Pearson still believes Tech can earn home ice in the playoffs - if it can start scoring some goals.

The Huskies held top-10 offensive teams Michigan State and Boston College to three and two goals, respectively, in the Great Lakes Invitational - which is impressive given recent defensive zone breakdowns. However, offensively, Tech has been held to just one goal in three straight games.

"We entered the third period tied 1-1 against a really good Boston College team, and only allowed four shots against in the third," Pearson said. "It's not like 'Wow, we barely hung on,' or 'Wow, we got outplayed.' We've been as good if not better than teams, we're just not scoring. ... Right now we just can't seem to get any puck luck, as evidenced by the waved-off (game-tying) goal against BC."

It's not like Tech hasn't put rubber on opposing goaltenders. The Huskies have 100 total shots in the last three games, including a 45-26 shot advantage against Michigan State. It's the quality of shots Tech is trying to address.

Pearson said scoring is hard to teach, but the Huskies will continue to make some tweaks in practices, which start again Wednesday. They'll be working on going harder to the net, finishing in drills instead of ending a drill before a goal, changing shot release and stepping into shots more.

Tech will have a chance to showcase improvement during an intrasquad scrimmage at 5 p.m. Saturday at Calumet Colosseum (admission is a non-perishable food item), and then they'll have another week to prepare to host Alaska Anchorage on Jan. 13-14. With eight practices before that series, Tech has time to get its offense in gear while getting even stronger defensively - and the Huskies know how critical the homestand against the Seawolves is in the big picture.

"They're very important if we want to get home ice (in the playoffs). Every game becomes important, but obviously having home games, these are games we should win - let's not sugarcoat it," Pearson said. "We have to take care of business. I guarantee we'll be ready."

At least that's a record Tech fans don't mind listening to.

Stephen Anderson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at @steander.



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