Game on: Huskies hold annual Black and Gold game

Dave Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech’s Coeper Watson controls the puck behind his own net during the Black and Gold game Saturday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

HOUGHTON — With 11 new faces for the coaching staff to evaluate prior to next weekend’s season-opening series with the defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs, the Michigan Tech Huskies held their annual Black and Gold game Saturday. At the end of the evening, the real winners were the goaltenders, who combined to surrender just one goal in a 1-0 victory for Black.

For the most part, head coach Joe Shawhan felt pleased with what he saw in the contest, but he also mentioned an area in need of improvement before the Huskies take to the ice for an official game.

“It was good,” said Shawhan. “We get to see how guys think and how they interact. I like a lot of what I saw.

“I think we need to take care of the puck a lot better. I think that will be critically important.”

Given that goaltending was an issue for the Huskies last season, Shawhan felt heartened by the efforts of senior Devin Kero, junior transfer Matt Jurusik and sophomore Robbie Beydoun.

“I thought they were pretty good,” said Shawhan. “They all looked well and have been from the start. It’s a good battle, there is good competition. That’s what we want to have.”

The goal came 4:26 into the second half when freshman winger Brian Halonen crashed into the left corner of the offensive zone on the forecheck. After securing the puck, Halonen fed it behind the net to classmate Alec Broetzman. Broetzman stepped out from behind the net and hit assistant captain Jake Jackson in the slot with a quick pass.

Jackson wasted no time wiring a wrist shot past Kero for the tally.

“Sometimes it just works out that way, when you come off the bench, the defense don’t really know where you are,” said Jackson. “I was just letting (Broetzman) know that I was open. He picked his head up, picked a spot and gave it to me. I just tried to rip it on net an it went in.”

Jackson spent the bulk of his night skating on the right wing on a line that featured junior center Alex Smith and freshman winger Trenton Bliss. The senior felt that Bliss fit in alongside the two upperclassmen.

“(With) Smith, you know what you are going to get from him,” said Jackson. “He’s great at moving the puck. He’s smart. He makes good plays all the time.

“Bliss is the same way, from what I have seen so far. I think he is going to keep progressing. He is a good player.”

Broetzman, who spent most of his night skating alongside Halonen, felt the pair got stronger as the night went along.

“The first half was a little rough,” said Broetzman. “(It) took some getting used to. (We) came out in the second half and things started to click.”

Halonen’s forecheck was exactly what Shawhan wants to see out of the big-bodied rookie.

“He’s a young kid,” said Shawhan. “He wins battles. That’s what he is going to do for us… He’s incredibly committed to getting better.”

A freshman on Gold who caught eye of the coaching staff and the fans in attendance was right winger T.J. Polglaze. The youngster had multiple shots on goal, but none bigger than one off a pass from junior winger Raymond Brice with 5:47 left to play. Polglaze created the chance by driving hard to the net, something Shawhan hopes he will do throughout the season.

“He accelerates with the puck,” said Shawhan. “For some reason that is such a hard thing for us to teach guys. So many guys have to make plays with their feet not moving or in a glide pattern. He makes plays with his feet moving.”

The Huskies have just under a week to get their game ready for the upcoming series against the Bulldogs.