Early returns for Michigan Tech hockey: Bliss finding some success
HOUGHTON — With the 2018-19 hockey season in full swing, the Michigan Tech Huskies have started building a new team. Things are certainly looking up for the Huskies, who are coming home off a road sweep against Alabama-Huntsville. With the wins, the Huskies are now 3-1 on the road and 3-3 overall.
Freshman winger Trenton Bliss has played in all six games this season and has become a fundamental part of the offense, with one goal and four points in six games.
While he knows there is still a long season ahead of him, Bliss likes the direction things are going.
“As a whole, we’re trying to figure out who fits where,” he said. “I think guys are still trying to figure out their roles on the team. As the season progresses, I think we’ll get more and more comfortable playing together. In return (that) will help us grow as a team (and) be stronger and harder to play against.”
Bliss is already feeling more comfortable with his new surroundings.
“I think, in that first game against (Minnesota-)Duluth, there were a lot of jitters playing in my first game,” he said. “The first time playing at home, the atmosphere was kind of overwhelming. I’ve always heard (about) what it’s like (playing at home), but actually experiencing it was something special, our fans are unbelievable.”
After getting swept by the Bulldogs, Bliss and his teammates earned a split at Wisconsin in October. Given that the Badgers play in his home state, and he was, at one time, a recruit of Wisconsin, the experience of playing at the Kohl Center was something that Bliss found challenging. Being part of a sweep at Huntsville was just what the Huskies needed to build off of their Friday win in Madison the weekend before. Bliss felt a confidence boost in helping the Huskies to a 2-1 win on Friday against the Chargers and a 4-1 win on Saturday.
“Obviously, it was tough to go 0-2 against (Minnesota) Duluth,” said Bliss. “They’re a great team. We played really well (on) Friday, (but) it was tough to come back (on) Saturday and kind of get beat like we did, especially in front of our home fans. I know that they were really excited to get the season going. That’s not what we wanted to give them; a false hope on the season.
“I think we were able to rebound this weekend (and) kind of find our identity. Hopefully that will continue throughout the weeks.”
Bliss is enjoying the chance to play NCAA Division I hockey.
“For me, just being able to get six games under my belt in college hockey is huge because the pace of the game is a lot faster,” he said. “Just being able to settle down and make my plays, that’s been huge.”
Bliss can already tell that his game is changing on the fly.
“Being able to settle down as the game progressed,” he said, when asked what he has noticed about himself so far. “For me, it was (about) being relaxed (and) comfortable; not overthinking things and just being able to play my game and play hard.”
The Huskies have 28 conference games this season and are 2-0 in WCHA play at this point. Bliss hopes to stay in shape as the season progresses, but that will be a challenge for the freshman.
“Our conference is a very hard conference,” he said. “There are a lot of teams that are very physical, so just being able to stay healthy and play through the bumps and bruises (by being) mentally tough. (We want to) go in every weekend and hopefully come out with two wins, (but I think staying healthy) will be my biggest challenge.”
The Appleton, Wisconsin, native enjoyed playing against his home state team in October. He also is looking forward to facing Clarkson on Nov. 16 and 17, who are currently 4-3 this season.
“Wisconsin was pretty fun,” he said. “My whole family was there. It was nice to kind of put a beating on those guys on Friday.
“I’m really excited for Clarkston. My old roommate from last year in Green Bay is on the team. (He’s) one of my best friends, so I’m really excited to play them. I know they have a great team this year.”
“I’m just excited to play all of them (because) you only play 40 or so games in college,” Bliss said. “So, every one counts, (and) you’ve got to make the most of it.”