Shawhan picks Beydoun to start in net against Bemidji State

Michigan Tech’s Robbie Beydoun will start tonight against Bemidji State at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. (David Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette)

HOUGHTON — On their drive to the games this weekend, Michigan Tech hockey fans will see ice sculptures lining the roads. It’s part of the charm of Winter Carnival, but if coach Joe Shawhan gets his way, the real artwork will be on the ice, not made out of it.

He’s looking for the kind of hockey the Huskies played last Saturday in a 4-0 victory over Bowling Green. That was beautiful hockey. What he’s hoping to avoid? Playing like the Huskies did in their 7-2 loss last Friday. That was ugly hockey.

“Friday is a game that we would just as soon forget,” Shawhan said. “We got beat in every facet of the game, every tangible aspect of the game. There is really not much to say about Friday except for hopefully it was enough of a learning experience to teach us a lesson, enough of an embarrassment.

“I’m sure a lot of people here want to see the team that played on Saturday night play this weekend. I know I certainly do.”

This weekend Tech (14-12-5, 10-9-5-2 WCHA) hosts Bemidji State (14-10-6, 11-7-4-2 WCHA) on Friday at 7:07 p.m. and Saturday at 5:07 p.m. at the MacInness Student Ice Arena.

The Huskies will need another quality start from freshman goaltender Robbie Beydoun when they take on the No. 4 team in the WCHA.

Beydoun has played in 10 games this season with eight starts, giving up 2.42 goals a contest with a 90.4 save percentage. His goals-against average and save percentage are better than both of Tech’s other options in the net, Patrick Munson (2.93 GAA, 89.6 SV percentage) and Devin Kero (2.66 GAA, 90 SV percentage).

He had 26 saves last Saturday for his second career shutout, which Shawhan said earned him the starting spot on Friday.

“Robbie gave us some really big saves early,” Shawhan said. “Bowling Green came out with a lot of emotion after having their senior night festivities. They are led by their seniors, and they came out hard. Robbie made some very big saves; there were some opportunities where Bowling Green really tested them. They did create some quality scoring chances …. We gave up more scoring chances than we traditionally do, but we didn’t give up any more goals. That is what you want your goaltenders to do.”

Beydoun will need to be at his best as Bemidji State boasts one of the top goalies in the WCHA. Tech may not get the scoring numbers it’s used to.

Michael Blitzer, last season’s WCHA player of the year, has a 2.10 GAA and a 91.2 SV percentage. Plus, he has solid defensemen to help him out. Bemidji limits opponents to 24.6 shots a game.

“They have everything they had last year to make them successful, and they have replaced what they lost,” Shawhan said. “That is the team that won the league last season. They have a couple of top-end defensemen, they have a good D-core, they have all-league type guys. Then they have Blitzer in the net, and he can win a game for them on any given night.”

Scoring against Bemidji State is a challenge, but Tech has a balanced attack working in its favor. The Huskies have five players with 20 or more points on the season and six more with at least 10.

In the shutout against Bowling Green their offensive abilities were on full display.

“We had good balance as far as contribution,” Shawhan said. “Our top scorers put up points; (Jake) Lucchini had a four-point night, five-point weekend … There were no weak links on Saturday. No one that we wanted to or needed to hide.”

Tech will be playing the Winter Carnival Series without captain Brent Baltus, defenseman Mitch Reinke and forward Alex Gillies, who are all battling injuries.

Tech has six games remaining on its schedule, and the Huskies remain in fifth place in the WCHA. As usual, there are six points up for grabs this weekend, and Tech would jump Bemidji State in the standings if it won both contests this weekend.

The top four teams in the WCHA get home ice when the playoffs begin.

In addition to the games being a conference series, Tech and Bemidji will be playing for the MacInnes Cup, which is awarded to the team with the most total goals on the weekend.