Tech hopes secondary scoring leads the way in postseason
HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team has heard this all before. The Huskies do not have that guaranteed goal scorer like they have had in the past. Gone are the likes of an Alex Petan or a Tanner Kero.
This year’s Huskies have, instead, a deep group of scorers, which actually might be exactly what they need heading into the playoffs.
“In playoff hockey, a lot times, the top players are nullified for one reason or another,” said coach Mel Pearson. “That is why you have to make sure that you have that secondary scoring. We’ve grown that over the year.”
Last season, the Ferris State Bulldogs eliminated the Huskies in the second semifinal of the WCHA Final Five, mainly because they were able to keep the puck away from Petan, and the rest of the Huskies struggled to make up for it in a 1-0 loss.
That should not happen this season, as the Huskies’ depth is beginning to show, proven by the way the Huskies scored against rival Northern Michigan last weekend.
While sophomore Jake Lucchini leads the team with 10 goals, the Huskies feature 10 skaters with at least six goals this season, including sophomore Jake Jackson, who scored a key goal in Saturday’s 5-3 loss to Northern Michigan. Jackson also possesses the kind of game-breaking speed that can change a game.
“It was good for him to score,” said Pearson. “We have our speed. We have speed and we have to use it.”
Two other skaters who could have significant impacts for the Huskies in the playoffs are junior Alex Gillies and freshman Thomas Beretta.
Gillies had a strong sophomore campaign with five goals and 15 points. This season, he has missed time to illness and injury, but is playing better of late.
“He is a junior now,” said Pearson. “He’s been through the wars and he has played a lot of hockey. He is just starting to get healthy again. He is just beginning to find his groove. His best hockey this year is ahead of him, and that is a good thing.”
After struggling to pick up points for much of the season, Beretta has come alive of late, scoring two goals in his last three games, including one on a very nice play on Friday in a 3-2 win over Northern Michigan.
“He has had chances every game,” said Pearson. “He works extremely hard. He’s strong. He gets to the net. He’s really improved and it will exciting to watch him here in the playoffs.”
The Huskies are also scratching the surface of what their defensemen can add to their offense this season.
Junior Matt Roy leads the team in assists (15) and points (20). Much of Roy’s offense comes from what he does in the offensive zone, where he can use his shot. His classmate, Mark Auk, has developed his timing in order to push the offense up the ice, something that Pearson and his staff are happy to see as Auk has learned how to join the rush without sacrificing his defensive play.
The Huskies will need all of that secondary and even tertiary scoring if they want to advance beyond this weekend and host more playoff games.
LOOKING AT THE LAKERS
The Lakers come into this weekend with an overall record of 11-16-7. They earned the No. 7 seed by defeating Ferris State on the final day of the regular season in a shootout.
The Huskies faced the Lakers just twice this season, back on Nov. 11 and 12. The Lakers entered the series riding a hot start with a 6-2-0 record. The Huskies won 6-1 and 4-2.
Sophomore Mitch Hults and junior J.T. Henke are tied for the team lead in assists (20) and points (30). Sophomore Gage Torrel leads the team in goals (13).
Freshman Luke Morgan went through a hot stretch from Jan. 20 to Feb. 11 where he scored two goals and eight points over the course of six games.
In goal, junior Gordon Defiel has carried the load, going 11-14-7 in 32 appearances with a 2.70 goals against average and a .913 save percentage.
Game times for this weekend are 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. If a third game is required it would likely start at 7:07 p.m. on Sunday.