Huskies searching for leadership

Who is the first person you think of when you hear the word leadership? As a sports fan, my thoughts drift to those athletes I grew up loving, whether that be David Wright of the New York Mets, or Mark Messier of the Edmonton Oilers, New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks, or Steve Yzerman when he captained the Detroit Red Wings.

That that is exactly what the Michigan Tech Huskies are looking for, specifically the hockey team.

The Huskies have four skaters in their lettered leadership group in Arvid Caderoth, Brett Thorne, Logan Pietila and Ryland Mosley. All four have done some really good things early in the season for the Huskies.

However, that is not really what the Huskies are missing at this point. They are missing those skaters whose jerseys don’t have extra letters on them, but they find a way to lead the team in their own way.

Saturday night, those in attendance at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena had a chance to see the team take a big stride forward as it continues to look for those guys like a Justin Misiak or a Tyrell Buckley or a Brian Halonen, guys who could drive the game despite not wearing a letter on their sweater.

Injuries have played a part in that, as freshman winger Kyle Kukkonen admitted Saturday after the game.

“It’s tough when you lose a guy, or someone’s hurting, or playing through stuff, but at the end of the day, it’s all hockey goes,” he said. “It’s the next guy mentality. I think we have a great locker room here that’s deep, and whoever is going to dress that night is going to do their job. We have a great team in there (the locker room), so I think it’s just the next guy up has to do their job. We believe in everyone in that locker room.”

In a rare moment during the postgame discussion, senior Jake Crespi, who was tasked with playing defense on Saturday, despite the fact that he is a winger normally, is trying to learn a new role on the fly. He admitted after the game that he is looking to his defensive partner, Ryan O’Connell, for some direction, which he got.

“He’s an offensive defenseman,” said Crespi. “He skates well too, so I was just trying to follow his lead and play off him the best I could.”

Crespi, who has practiced some at defense, but had not really played the position in a game situation prior to this past weekend, admitted that he had a lot to learn.

“Obviously, as a winger, you’re thinking, ‘What can I do on the wall to be responsible in my zone?’ Then as a (defenseman), I didn’t really know what to expect,” he said. “So I just knew I wanted to get back to pucks early moving as quick as possible, try to try to simplify things.

“There’s a couple of times I got in trouble with my feet.”

After Friday’s collapse in the third period, coach Joe Shawhan admitted that the team still has a lot of growing to do.

“The reality of it is that we don’t handle the puck real well in traffic right now, and we don’t gap well right now,” he said. “We give time and space for guys to come at us, and they can beat us. “We have a lot of work to do, but our guys are working really hard.

Shawhan wants his players to learn from their mistakes as they grow this season.

“I’m not going to beat them up,” he said. “We’re going to believe in them and love them and let them grow. The sun’s going to come up tomorrow, and (we’re going to) let them continue to play. That’s all we can do.”

After the game Saturday, Shawhan felt that Kukkonen’s locker room comments were on the right track.

“I haven’t seen that, but that’s why I mentioned I did see that tonight,” he said. “I felt it tonight. I saw it tonight. I haven’t seen it. We have only a couple guys that are proven at this level, Logan and Blake (Pietila), (Chris) Lipe, just a few guys that are proven.

“I do know that the group tonight, as a body, was in a really good frame of mind, and, as a group, they were cohesive. When times get tough, you need to go back to that, but somebody’s going to have to put the rubber down when we need it. That’s only going to come (from) them building trust.”


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