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Huskies hockey off to Bowling Green with home playoffs in reach

David Archambeau/For the Gazette Michigan Tech forward Jack Works controls the puck behind the Minnesota State net during a game Saturday, Feb, 10, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton.

BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — With four games left in the regular season, the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team is still in the hunt for a home playoff spot in the CCHA Tournament. The Huskies are currently fifth in the CCHA with a record of 12-13-6 overall and 9-9-2 in CCHA play.

The team just ahead of them in the standings also happens to be this weekend’s opponent, the Bowling Green State Falcons, who hold a five-point lead on the Huskies for that fourth and final home playoff position.

The Huskies come into this weekend fresh off a bye week. Coach Joe Shawhan used the extra time to get away from the MacInnes Student Ice Arena and watch some of the upcoming Huskies who are still playing junior hockey. In his stead, he had the assistant coaches run practices.

“I used it to go look at some of our players that we have committed, just to gauge where they’re at, and let the (assistant) coaches run practice,” he said. “So, I think it’s good for them. I think it’s good for the team. I think it’s good, at this stage, to change things up just a little bit and give them (the players and the assistant coaches) a change of routine.”

Shawhan also used some of the free time he had last week, and again Monday, to hold some 1-on-1 meetings with players, where he could break down video with them.

“What I was able to personally do is I did meet with (some players),” he said. “There’s players that I met with, and just watched video with them individually, just to watch little things that could help them personally. I enjoyed that. I think the players enjoyed that.”

Through meetings like the ones Shawhan held with his players, he could discuss with them what he hopes they learn from their time at Michigan Tech.

“So that is our No. 1 focus, is trying to help our players understand what you get out of sport,” Shawhan said. “It’s to teach life lessons. That’s what sport is. Learn how to win, learn how to lose, learn how to work to get better, learn how to set goals and accomplish it.”

As the Huskies look at learning those lessons while also finding some success, the road in front of them will not be easy. This weekend, the Huskies are taking on a Falcons team that has caught fire recently, going 6-1-1 since getting swept by Ohio State in early January.

“They’re going to give us trouble,” said Shawhan. “The reason they’re going to give us trouble is, I believe, 85% of the game is played along the walls. They play well along the walls when we don’t.”

Shawhan feels that is one of the spaces on the ice the Huskies struggle with most.

“That’s one of our biggest aspects, is that area of the game that drives possession,” Shawhan said. “Eighty-five percent of hockey, if you watched it, looked at a heat map, you’d see the hot spots around the walls. Eighty-five percent of the game at every level of hockey is played on the walls. When I tell the guys go out, it’s good that they do this stuff in critical ice, but how do they get there? What do they do here? That’s where the game is.”

Shawhan feels that junior winger Jack Works is the Huskies’ best player along the walls, but even he has space to grow.

SCOUTING

THE FALCONS

The Falcons are 13-16-1 overall and 11-8-1-2 in CCHA play after a strong showing last weekend against St. Thomas, where they tied Friday night, but won the shootout, and then followed that up with a win on Saturday.

Junior forward Ryan O’Hara leads the team in scoring with 10 goals and 18 points in 26 games. Senior forward Spencer Kersten has also been good, scoring eight goals and 15 points in 29 games.

Freshman goaltender Cole Moore has emerged as the starting goaltender, seeing action in 23 games this season, starting 19 of them. He has a 10-9 record with one shutout. He sports a 2.74 goals against average and a .919 save percentage.

GAME TIMES

The Huskies and the Falcons will face off at 7:37 p.m. Friday night. Saturday’s contest is set for a 7:07 p.m. start.

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