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Huskies hockey took step against Mavericks

David Archambeau/For Daily Mining Gazette Michigan Tech forward Marcus Pedersen celebrates after scoring a third-period goal against Minnesota State during a game Saturday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton.

HOUGHTON — For five out of six periods during Winter Carnival weekend, the Michigan Tech Huskies did a number of good things, things that they need to do to be successful. That hard work translated to a win on Friday night, 3-1, over the Minnesota State Mavericks. Saturday night, the Huskies had one rough period where some issues crept up, and that was enough for the Mavericks to seize control of the game, which they eventually won, 4-2.

Huskies coach Joe Shawhan called the Mavericks, who are in their first season under the helm of coach Luke Strand, the “most complete” team the Huskies have faced all season.

“In our prep work for Mankato, watching teams against several components, I felt that they were the most complete team that we’ve played, that we were going to have played in quite some time,” Shawhan said. “The first time we played them, it was a different lineup for them. They had some injuries, (Tony) Malinowski was out. I think (Lucas) Souder was out, which is obviously a big component for them.

“Watching them with their complete lineup in, they were having their way with teams.”

Shawhan felt good about a lot of what the Huskies did in their two-game series last weekend.

“Overall, I thought our guys played a good weekend, like even Saturday night,” he said. “That’s on the positive side that we played a good weekend. On the other side, and I do think that we, overall, for five periods, defended well in a competitive fashion. I think one period on Saturday night cost us, and there’s lessons in that, in not losing your focus, maintaining your maturity and your ability to play and to reset.”

Shawhan has been working to teach his players about accountability, which is not always the easiest lesson to get across to players, especially in this current era where players can jump from one program to another through the NCAA transfer portal without the consequence of having to sit out a full season.

“Like I said in the post game comments (Saturday), you feel bad after a tough loss as it is,” he said, “You have an emptiness. You feel terrible, or at least you should feel terrible after any game, if you didn’t perform well. Now, even a victory feels so much better, if you’ve individually performed well. You still appreciate the victory, but it’s a lessened degree and that’s natural (if you didn’t perform well).”

The same is true after a loss.

“If you’ve laid everything out there, it hurts, but you can get over that if you performed well individually,” he said. “You understand that, and then you identify, potentially, the areas that you didn’t like, why you lost. If you can look in the mirror after, it’s easier to put it to rest and get back to work for the next one.”

There is plenty to learn from every game’s outcome.

“We talk about learning, and the only real loss is if you don’t learn anything or get anything out of it,” said Shawhan. “That growth is working through your difficulties, and things like that. If you don’t do that, you’re not moving ahead.”

The Huskies proved both nights that if they play for 60 minutes, they can have success, even against the best opponents the CCHA has.

“There’s a lot of room to grow, and if we can play for 60 minutes, we’ll have a better chance of success, for sure,” Shawhan said.

That one period that got away from the Huskies on Saturday comes down to one major factor, compete level.

“The second period was lack of compete,” he said. “I think everybody that watched the game would see that. That’s what it was. It was slow and it was non-committed to defending. It was letting them come in waves. I mean, they didn’t dominate us in that period, which is the encouraging thing, but we didn’t compete in that period. We gave them the puck and then let them come back.

“There was no strength on the puck. There was no elimination of time and space. That was the disappointing part.”

The Huskies, who are 12-13-6 overall, and 9-9-2 in CCHA play, sit in a tie for fourth with Bowling Green State, who they will play on the road next weekend. With four games left for the Huskies in the regular season, they sit just five points away from the Mavericks for the CCHA lead.

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