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Enjoy the moment/Inside the Huskies

February 21, 2012
By Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer (sanderson@mininggazette.com) , The Daily Mining Gazette

This weekend will be the last home hockey games of the year for Michigan Tech - unless the Huskies earn home ice in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

That "unless" should put a smile on your face since it's been almost two decades since Tech last had playoff home ice.

But, after a pair of one-point weekends, the now-seventh-place Huskies are on the outside looking in and with four games left to go, they no longer control their own destiny.

"We've put ourselves in a little bit of a precarious spot," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "We have to start taking care of our business, and we haven't done that the past two weekends ..."

... at least on the scoreboard. Pearson was pleased with five of the six periods at North Dakota, with Friday's penalty-filled second period being the exception; and he was also pleased with most of the effort in the Nebraska-Omaha series two weeks ago.

The Huskies just need to be more disciplined in staying out of the penalty box, and move the puck better on the recently struggling power play. Otherwise, Pearson is pleased with the team's continued growth.

"Guys are learning and I keep referring to the fact that not many of these guys have had to play when the games are so urgent and desperate like this," he said.

"They're learning how to play when we have something at stake like home ice."

Of course home ice continues to be a goal - and has been since the first team meeting of the year - but Pearson said, "We can't put all our eggs in that basket ..."

... especially since Colorado College, Nebraska-Omaha and North Dakota all have 27 points in the WCHA standings, three points ahead of Tech. Then again, this weekend, CC visits Minnesota-Duluth, UNO hosts Minnesota and UND heads to Denver - the WCHA's top three teams.

As fascinating as the playoff race is shaping up to be, there's really only one thing on Tech's mind: St. Cloud State - the "other Huskies."

"We have to focus on Friday night. We can't look too far ahead ... we're going to be a much better team when we're not looking at the big picture," Pearson said. "I really like the tone of our team, I really like their mindset."

And it promises to be a special weekend for players - especially the seniors - and fans alike.

Five seniors - Brett Olson, Jordan Baker, Josh Robinson, Alex MacLeod and Bryce Reddick - will play their final(?) home games this weekend, and they will be honored on the ice after Saturday's game and at a 12:30 p.m. Sunday brunch at the Memorial Union Ballroom (open to the public, $15 per person, RSVP to Kathy Pintar, kapintar@mtu.edu, by noon Wednesday).

"I want (the seniors) to think about somebody special in their lives that has helped them hockey wise and support wise, and dedicate the weekend to them and go for it," said Pearson, who has often credited the seniors with this season's turnaround.

"I just want them to enjoy the moment," he added.

Fans would be advised to sit back and enjoy the moment, too, and they'll get to do so for a great price as part of Tech's "Sell Out St. Cloud" weekend promotion. All adult tickets are $10 and youth tickets are $5 - if purchased by 9 p.m. Thursday at the SDC Ticket Office or online at BuyHuskiesTickets.com.

"I just hope the fans come out and support the seniors who have really done a great job and represented the university and hockey program, but also the community," Pearson said.

Another way fans can support the seniors and engage in Huskies hockey discussion 24/7 is on Twitter. Along with the discounted ticket prices, @mtuhky (official Tech hockey Twitter account) is promoting the #selloutstcloud hashtag to interact with fans - in addition to the #mtuhky hashtag, which I (@steander) popularized in the fall and has been used all season by fans, Tech players and other great Tech hockey sources (@TechHockeyGuide, for example).

I'd love to see you join the discussion on Twitter this week, but not as much as the Tech hockey seniors would love - and deserve - to see you this weekend at the Mac.

Stephen Anderson can be reached at sanderson@mininggazette.com. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/steander.

 
 

 

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