Early returns for Michigan Tech hockey: Halonen off to great start

Dave Archambeau/Daily Mining Gazette Halonen follows the play during a game at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

HOUGHTON — At 6-foot and 205 pounds, freshman forward Brian Halonen has made a name for himself with one goal and 4 assists in six games for the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team that has started the season 3-3. While the hockey season is still young, a physical player like Halonen feels that every game counts.

The Huskies, who are fresh off a sweep of the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, have won three of their last four games. Halonen has been a big part of why the Huskies have started moving in the right direction.

“It was big for us to get a sweep last weekend,” he said. “The WCHA wins are huge. They mean a lot when it comes down to the end of the year. We’re just looking to get two more wins at Ferris and then follow that up in Clarkston the next weekend.”

Even though Halonen has adjusted quickly to the speed of the WCHA game and has found success early in his collegiate career, he credits his confidence to his teammates.

“The college game is a more physical game for sure,” he said. “The guys are older and faster, but I put in a good summer this summer so I think I’m prepared to handle it. I’m just playing with some great teammates that can score goals.

“I’ve always had some confidence in myself and my abilities. I knew I could play at this level. I’ve always had the confidence (to be) an impact player, and that’s why I think I made the decision to come in. I’m just doing anything I can to help the team win.”

Gelling with linemates as quickly as possible helps a young player gain confidence. Halonen has found himself playing alongside classmate Alec Broetzman, who has two goals and three points of his own so far.

“He’s another freshman (who’s) doing real well,” Halonen said. “He’s shooting the puck. If you put (the puck) on his stick good things will happen.”

The Delano, Minnesota, native played Minnesota-Duluth in his first games of the season. Duluth is only a few hours from where he grew up. Despite the Bulldogs hailing from a place so close to home, he didn’t let the location get to him.

“Anytime you play against a team from your own state, you want to do well and get some wins,” said Halonen. “Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. You can never be too comfortable. Being comfortable isn’t a good plan for success (because) it leads to complacency.”

With the success that Halonen has found so far this season, he has drawn attention from various opponents already, but Halonen wants to use the momentum he has built for the Black and Gold with a one-game-at-a-time mentality.

“You don’t look too far ahead,” he said. “You can’t get too high and you can’t get too low. You’ve got to stay consistent. I mean you’ve just got to play your game every day and if you do that, you’ll find success.

“I just have to keep playing my game, (being) physical and getting in on forecheck. (I) just (want to) try to help the team win by playing my game.”

Halonen is looking forward to playing against another set of Bulldogs this weekend.

“You look forward to every game, (because) every (day) you get to play a game you love and you get to do it at a high level,” said Halonen.

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