No. 15 Michigan Tech looks to continue hot streak at St. Thomas

MENDOTA HEIGHTS, Minn. — Currently working their way through a five-game winning streak, the No. 15 Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team is excited about the opportunity set in front of them as they hit the road this weekend to face the St. Thomas Tommies.

The Huskies enter the weekend having scored 21 goals over their recent streak, including five in a 5-1 win over rival Northern Michigan on Tuesday.

The Huskies and Tommies play at 8:07 p.m. both Friday and Saturday.

Huskies head coach Joe Shawhan does not like the schedule his team has to work its way through with a pair of games on the weekend against Bemidji State, then a Tuesday night matchup against the Wildcats, then travel to face the Tommies this weekend, and finally close with a Tuesday night matchup in Marquette with the Wildcats again. He has good reason, players that might be able to force their way into the lineup with their practices during the week lose chances to do so thanks to the change in practice schedule necessary to accommodate the mid-week games.

The Huskies (15-8-1, 12-5 CCHA) have been through this before, specifically last season, so he feels that the players will adjust to what he refers to as a “pro-type” practice schedule.

“We did this a year ago, if you remember,” he said. “We played a weekend, then we went on a Tuesday, I believe (we) played at Ferris (State). Then we went to Huntsville and played two, then we came back and played a Tuesday game. We did this before and got a template. We won all those games, so that worked for us at that time. Right now it’s just trusting Nate Larson, it’s trusting Tyler (Shelast) who does our strength, listening to them on what needs to be done as far as our recovery.”

Huskies moving on up

With the sweep of the Beavers, the Huskies moved into possession of second place in the CCHA schedule with four games in hand on both the Beavers and the Minnesota State Mavericks. With a win over the Wildcats on Tuesday, the Huskies opened up a four-point advantage over the Beavers with three games still in hand.

While the Huskies have been on a tear to get to this point, Shawhan feels that his team will not lose sight of the effort that got them this far.

“I don’t think we’re pushing for (second place),” he said. “I think we’re just playing games. I don’t think we’re looking at second places available, this is available, or that’s available. I think there’s a goal of home ice for the playoffs. 

“There’s a lot we have numbers on our team that are creating competition within. There’s players that want to have the best year that they possibly can for opportunities to move on. I think the guys really realize that we need everybody to achieve what we what, whatever it is that we’re, individually and collectively, after.”

The Huskies proved their coach right on Tuesday, scoring five goals for the third straight game.

Contributions from everywhere

In the two wins over the Beavers, the Huskies got a goal each night from junior center Logan Ganie, as well as a pair of goals in Saturday’s contest from co-captain Alec Broetzman. 

Ganie and his linemates, sophomores Ryland Mosley and Nick Nardella, all found success, not just on the scoresheet, but also in playing a 200-foot game, forcing Shawhan to continue to utilize the trio throughout the weekend.

“They competed hard,” Shawhan said. “All of them got their nose in, in critical areas. That’s always extremely important. Your zone possession, in various zones, indicates, a lot of times, your compete level and your ability to make efficient plays. 

“They had opportunities in the offensive zone play. They had opportunities on the rush. They didn’t give up opportunities, and time, in the defensive zone. So every indicator from them was a very good weekend.”

On both of Ganie’s goals, Mosley made a well-timed and well-placed pass to give his center a chance to score.

“They gave us a lot because they did a lot of good things in a lot of areas; some that you notice, some that you don’t notice,” said Shawhan. “They were complete in every area and they made us a much, much better hockey team.”

Broetzman started the year hot, scoring five points against Wisconsin, but had struggled following that outburst. Coming into Saturday’s contest, he was starting to find ways to contribute offensively with a goal and an assist in his past five contests.

While his offense has not been up to his own standards, his coach feels that he has done a great job of finding other ways to contribute.

“He still contributed in many, many ways for us to have success,” Shawhan said. “So success isn’t always, within a team structure, based on your offense. 

“To outside people, in how it’s perceived, it is the end all, which is, in some ways, unfortunate. You have to score goals. You also have to defend. He’s vital to our penalty kill in every aspect of that. He’s in every critical situation.”

Scouting the Tommies

The Tommies come into the weekend in eighth in the CCHA with a 2-24 record overall and a 2-18 record in conference play. The Tommies will be well-rested when they face the Huskies on Friday, as they had a weekend off after getting swept by the Mavericks, 5-1, 7-1.

Fifth year forward Christiano Versich leads the Tommies with five goals and 13 points. He picked up two goals and three points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Huskies earlier this season. Senior Matthew Jennings is also having a strong year with a team-high 10 assists and 13 points. Freshman forward Cameron Recchi has done well in his first season at the Division I level with five goals and 10 points.

Fifth year goaltender Peter Thome has started 18 games this season and sports a 2-16 record in those starts. He has a 4.42 goals against average and a .873 save percentage.

Short-term memory

The Huskies and Tommies clashed for the first time in the history of the two schools on Dec. 10 and 11, 2021, with the Huskies winning the Friday matchup 6-1 and the Saturday matchup in overtime, giving them five of a possible six points. 

Shawhan hopes that his group learned a lesson from that Saturday contest.

“We’ll see this weekend,” he said. “I don’t think I have to address that to the group that, ‘Hey, listen, remember what happened last time.’ I think they know what happened. It was a great lesson that that compete level, throw everything else aside, compete level is the neutralizing factor, or (it can) put you over the edge. On that night, they competed harder than we did.”


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