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Offensive leader: Mosley feels depth is the difference for Huskies this season

Michigan Tech forward Ryland Mosley lifts the Mason Cup over his head after the Huskies defeated Bemidji State Friday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech University)

HOUGHTON — As the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team enters the NCAA Tournament field for the third straight season, this time to face No. 1 Boston College, the Huskies are in the midst of their hottest run of the season, having won five games in a row, and seven of their last eight.

A big reason for that success over the last five games has been the play of alternate captain Ryland Mosley, who is on a tear at the moment, scoring four goals and nine points over his last five games.

For Mosley, who was named Mason Cup Most Valuable Player for his game-winner against Bemidji State, and his teammates, earning a third straight NCAA Tournament bid is a big deal.

“It’s really exciting,” he said. “Obviously, playing three years in a row, never would have thought that coming in. We play such good teams, and such good competition, it’s always fun to go there and play against the top teams in college.”

In each of the previous two seasons, the Huskies had enough of a resume that they were able to qualify for an at-large bid to the tournament, which allowed them to enter the CCHA Tournament without a need to earn an automatic bid. This season, thanks in large part to an 0-4-2 start, the Huskies did not have that luxury. This season, they had to earn a spot by winning the Mason Cup, and they did just that on Friday night.

Michigan Tech forward Ryland Mosley lifts his hands in celebration after scoring the game-winning goal in the Mason Cup final over Bemidji State Friday at the Sanford Center in Bemidji, Minnesota. (Photo courtesy of Michigan Tech University)

“It’s exciting,” Mosley said. “It definitely feels better this year, winning the whole league. The last two years, we kind of came up short, but with pairwise, we were in there, so it was obviously fun. But this year, winning the whole thing, it just feels a little bit more surreal looking at that a little bit.”

Mosley and his teammates took a backs-against-the-wall mentality into the closing month and a half of the season, and the results speak for themselves.

“We felt it from a couple of months ago,” he said. “We knew that we weren’t going to get in from the pairwise, so we kind of felt the pressure, we want to, obviously, make the tournament every year, so we kind of felt the pressure to turn it up a gear. We have to win. So, it’s kind of backs- against-the-wall-type thing, and we did well with it.”

DEPTH MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Mosley feels that a big difference from earlier in the season to now has been the play of the Huskies’ depth, especially the line of senior center Blais Richartz between junior winger Alex Nordstrom and freshman winger Henry Bartle.

“It’s definitely different with the injuries and stuff, but everyone that came in played hard, and played their role. We have a good four lines that were playing throughout the playoffs. Blais’ line was scoring goals every game, and every line was chipping in every game. So, that’s kind of what you need to win a championship, just guys that come in and play their game.”

With the Richartz line finding success, Mosley feels that took a lot of pressure off of his line, which includes co-captain Logan Pietila and freshman winger Isaac Gordon.

“It definitely helps take the pressure off everyone, for sure,” said Mosley. “When you’re getting scoring from each line, it’s exciting, and when we watch them score, it kind of gives us a little boost in the game. You’re like, ‘Oh, let’s go score one for them now.’

“It’s definitely fun and I love watching everyone score.”

FINDING A COMBINATION

Mosley has spent the latter stages of this season with Pietila and Gordon, and the trio have found their scoring touch in recent weeks. Mosley played with Pietila for almost all of last season, but the pair found themselves on different lines earlier this season. Mosley, for the most part, played with Gordon all season, and when Pietila was added to the mix, the three found nearly instant chemistry.

“We didn’t get to play much throughout the season together,” Mosley said. “I played with Gordon, but never LP (Pietila) and Gordon at the same time. So, we kind of started gelling by the end of the year.

“I played with LP for last year, all year, so it was kind of an easy fit. He’s fast, he makes a lot of plays, and Isaac’s the same way. He can score from anywhere, and he makes plays. They’re both easy to play with. We started gelling, finding each other, and just knowing where each other were on the ice. That helps when you get some chemistry going.”

Mosley enjoys the fact that both Pietila and Gordon have a similar playing style, so they can both create open ice for Mosley to take advantage of.

“They both can shoot the puck and both can make plays, so they drag defenders over to them,” he said. “You kind of just have to get open and find a quiet area, because they can find you anywhere. They can both move their feet, take on a guy, and drag defenders, one or two of them, to you, so, you just have to play away from them, and then you can find them in the slot or find them anywhere. They can score from anywhere and make plays, so it’s pretty easy to play with them.”

A CAREER YEAR

Mosley, who has set new career highs in goals (18), power play goals (7), game-winning goals (5) and points (33), is proud of the way he has been able to chip in this season.

“It’s definitely important to me to play my best when it’s needed, and it feels good to chip-in and play the way I think I can play,” he said. “It’s great to help out the team.”

Joining the team midway through the 2020-21 season as a freshman, Mosley earned his way into 13 games in the second half, scoring just one goal and two points over that span while playing on the fourth line. As a sophomore, he found the net five times and scored 13 points in 36 games. Last season, he broke out in a big way, scoring 12 goals and 31 points in 39 games.

“I started on the fourth line,” he said. “You kind of work your way up until you earn that ice time, and then you have to keep on earning that ice time. You can’t just expect it when you have one good year. You have to come back, produce, and play well to keep that ice time, and keep it going.”

With such a strong junior year, Mosley knew the summer coming into this season was crucial in whether or not he would be able to repeat his scoring habits. As he trained for the season, he focused on the fact that he had already proven he could score at this level.

“(This year has been) definitely, ‘Hey, I can do this,'” he said. “I was from a smaller league coming into college, and there’s not too many guys that make it out of our league that go to college. So I was kind of just, ‘Hey, I can do it. I can produce here, and I’m meant to be here, and I could be a top player on a team that goes to the tournament every year.’ So, it was just kind of keep on working on that and keep on building my confidence at this level.”

LEARNING FROM THE COACHES

Mosley credits his bump in goal scoring this season to the extra help he has gotten from assistant coaches Tyler Shelant and Jordy Murray, both of whom played college hockey themselves, along with the efforts of his teammates, and, especially, his current linemates.

“Before I was scoring a lot from in front of the net, or just garbage goals or back door, or 2-on-1s and stuff like that. But, working with Shells (Shelast) and Jordy, I’ve really tried to work on my shot for the last four years here to score more goals, shooting quick and getting the puck off quick, just shooting from anywhere, and having the chance to score from anywhere. So, that definitely helps working with those two guys. That helped me score more goals this year than last year and the year before that.”

Shelast bombards Mosley with video clips of what he believes the veteran forward from Arnprior, Ontario, is capable of, which has helped.

“He’s always sending me Instagram clips of NHL guys shooting in certain spots, and there’s higher percentages scoring from here, shooting five-hole from this angle, and stuff like that,” Mosley said. “So, it’s just the little things that you don’t really think of when you’re playing, but when you’re just out in practice, or before practice, those little things kind of creep into your game a little bit.

“(He) helps me every day with all that stuff, and he clips out clips for me where I could have got it off a little quicker, or made a little push and shot, and that definitely helps me with my game.”

PLAYING FOR YOUR TEAMMATES

The biggest factor, according to Mosley, for the team’s success in recent weeks, besides the team’s depth, is the way the team gets along with each other.

“I think everyone just enjoys coming to the rink every day,” he said. “We’re all friends. That’s the most important thing. It’s a family feeling. Here we always are cracking jokes and laughing, and after practice we’re hanging out in the locker room, just shooting the crap, and talking about other sports, things going on in our life, and school and stuff.

“So, stuff like that definitely brings us together as a team. That makes you want to play for the guy beside you when you go down the ice. It definitely helps when everyone is just a family feel.”

Mosley is also proud of the way the team battles every game for each other.

“Well, that’s just us playing for each other,” he said. “We don’t want the season to be over. We didn’t want it to be over against Mankato. We wanted to come back, and everyone was trying their hardest. We have, all year, just to score those big goals, and to help out our team and keep it moving forward, and have a chance to play for a championship, which we did.”

While next year, when he will no longer be wearing the Black and Gold, continues to creep closer to being a reality, Mosley is not worrying about that right now. His focus, like his teammates, is on the next game.

Mosley and his teammates are set to face Boston College on Friday at 2 p.m. in Providence, Rhode Island.

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