Huskies ready for second look at improved Chargers team
HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team bounced back after a tough 5-3 loss to rival Northern Michigan on Friday with a 3-1 win on Saturday.
Huskies coach Joe Shawhan was happy to see his team come out with the mental toughness needed for the win. He also felt having home ice advantage on Saturday made a difference.
“I thought our guys did a really good job of focusing,” he said. “It was a tough game Friday night.
“We were outplayed in the game, absolutely for the second half of the game. I give the team (and) leadership a lot of credit for being ready for Saturday night’s game.”
Shawhan felt that having a boisterous crowd in their favor did not hurt.
“I think our crowd played into that in a big way,” he said. “We had a big crowd. It was lively in the building, as it was in Marquette. It was a fun weekend of hockey. I enjoyed both games.”
Freshman Trenton Bliss has worked his way into a consistent spot in the lineup, and has rewarded Shawhan’s faith in him with four goals and six assists over 14 games. Shawhan is happy to see him adjusting well alongside classmate T.J. Polglaze who has an assist of his own.
“Trenton scored a couple of power play goals for us, and that was good,” Shawhan said. “The other player I thought played pretty well for us (and) gave us good energy, and was at his best, was T.J. Polglaze. He did an excellent job (as a) freshman for us, giving us the energy that we look for. Everybody played well for the most part on Saturday. Friday, I thought he played well (also).”
The Huskies also got strong goaltending from sophomore Robbie Beydoun, who had 28 saves in his first start of the season, giving him a .966 save percentage. Goaltending for this weekend is still being decided.
“Whoever can stop the puck,” Shawhan said, when asked who would start. “We’ll make that decision as the week goes on.
“Robbie definitely gave cap. He made some saves early in the game. The game never did get out of hand, but he made timely saves for us when we needed them. I think that’s what’s important for a goaltender (because) it gives a team confidence to grow.”
This weekend, the Huskies will face an Alabama-Huntsville Chargers team that picked up its second win of the season Saturday night over the Bemidji State Beavers, which helped the Chargers improve to 2-4 in their last six games after starting the season 0-10-0.
Michigan Tech took two wins in early November when the two teams skated together in Alabama. The Huskies won 2-1 on Friday and 4-1 on Saturday.
Given that the Huskies took five of six points from the Beavers, they know that beating the Chargers for a third and fourth time this season will be no easy task.
Shawhan is looking forward to the weekend.
“(The Chargers) are a growing team,” he said. “The last time we played them (was) five weeks ago. They’re young so a lot of guys (are) getting their feet wet and learning what the game is about.
“Since that time they’ve improved. They compete well (and) are good in the offensive zone. “They do some creative things on faceoffs, (and their) powerplay is always creative.”
Sophomore Christian Rajic leads the Chargers with one goal and six points through 16 games. Freshman Jack Jeffers has a team-high four goals through 16 games.
In goal, sophomore Mark Sinclair is settling into the starting role. In 10 starts, he has a 2.93 goals against average and a .916 save percentage despite going 1-9-0.
Shawhan admits that the Chargers are not the same team the Huskies defeated twice earlier this season.
“We have to prepare in certain ways for them (because) they are a better team then they were,” he said. “Those games were relatively close. (We’re) preparing for it like we’d prepare for any other week.
“I think they showed last Saturday that anybody can win on any night. That was a big win for them against Bemidji. (They) had come from behind (with) a powerplay goal late. We’re looking forward to the games. They should be good hockey games.”
While the Chargers are improved, Shawhan feels his group has also stepped up over the past month.
“I think we continue to get better,” Shawhan said. “We had a little setback on Friday. I just think we’re continuing to get better. I don’t know what our ceiling is, but we’re continuing to (see) guys that have the skills that they haven’t reached. They can still get there.”
Game times this weekend are 7:07 p.m. both Friday and Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.