Krieber was major player in Michigan Tech’s 1981 run
SALINE, Mich. — Frank Krieber sees a lot of similarities between the 1981 Michigan Tech hockey team and the 2018 Huskies.
“I think this year’s (MTU) team is much like our team,”Krieber said. “We sort of came out of nowhere and made a real good run later in the season. They’ve done the same thing.”
Krieber, a Houghton native, started out as the No. 2 goaltender before the 1980-81 season behind Rob PolmanTuin.
But he worked himself into the top spot by late December, impressing late legendary Huskies mentor John MacInnes.
MacInnes, a goaltender himself at the University of Michigan, was noted for recognizing when a player was getting into a groove.
“John MacInnes was real technician of the game,” Krieber noted. “He wasn’t recognized that way all time, but he really knew all the facets of the game. He knew how to match up players …. and lines.”
The Huskies of 37 years ago started putting it together at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit, taking home honors.
With Krieber, a senior, in the nets over the next couple of months, they won 14 of their next 16 games.
He played in 29 games that year, posting a GAA average of 3.2 and an .895 saves mark.
Playoff wins over defending national champion North Dakota and Michigan were followed by two victories in the NCAA regionals over Providence.
The two-game series with Michigan a rough-and-tumble affair that saw Krieber go down with an injury. But he recovered quickly in the sweep of the Wolverines.
MacInnes told the media the difference was goaltending.
“We allowed just two goals in the series,” the MTU skipper said. “He (Krieber) was outstanding.”
Krieber remembers the success of the team was a joint effort.
“We were playing really well as a team,” Krieber recalled. “We had an All-American defenseman in Tim Watters, and he kind of steadied the team. Bill Terry, who just a freshman, really came on, too. Rick Boehm and Ron Zuke were also keys for us.”
The Frozen Four was held at the old Duluth Arena and the Huskies faced a tough Minnesota squad that featured brothers Aaron and Neil Broten in their first game.
The Gophers received a big break in the first period when a puck glanced off the door to the Zamboni machine.
“I went behind the net to get the puck and it bounced off the door right in front of the net,” Krieber said.
Minnesota also took full advantage of a 5-minute major penalty on Tech in the second period, scoring two more goals in an eventual 7-2 win.
Michigan Tech defeated Northern Michigan in the consolation game, Krieber in the nets for that one.
That was the last time Tech and NMU played in a game that decided anything in the conference until the 1995 season.
Krieber played two seasons at Houghton High, first as a junior under the late Don Miller. Gary Lishinski was his coach when he was a senior.
While he performed well at HHS, he wasn’t recruited heavily.
“I walked on at Michigan Tech and kept trying out,” he said. “Finally, I made the team as a junior.”
Krieber, whose parents still reside in the area, works for Dell Technology as a sales representative. He and his wife, Lisa, live in downstate Saline with their three children.
He still plays some hockey and took part in the Copper Country Oldtimers Tourney this past weekend.
As for his alma mater, Frank says he’ll be glued to the TV set when the Huskies tackle No. 2 Notre Dame on Friday afternoon in the next round.
“I know Notre Dame is highly ranked and has a good record,” he commented. “But I think this (MTU) team is playing good hockey right now. I wouldn’t count them out.”