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What We Learned: Michigan Tech

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The Wolverines first trip to Houghton since the 1983 season ended in disappointment with two blowout losses.

Gregory Shamus
Michigan Tech 4 - Michigan 1
Michigan Tech 6 - Michigan 2

This weekend was a measuring stick not just for a Wolverine team looking to get back on track, but also for a Michigan Tech program out to prove that a 4-0-0 start was no fluke. Selling out both games at MacInnes Arena, the atmosphere was electric in the crowd and on the ice. The Huskies channeled that energy from the opening puck drop and overwhelmed the Wolverines by winning board battles, getting to 50/50 pucks and blocking shots.

Taking the lead in both games, all MTU needed to do was let star goaltender Jamie Phillips handle the rest. They pushed the Wolverines down the boards and let them take all of their shots from 30 feet. On the other end a Husky team with a distinct size disadvantage bullied the Wolverines on the boards and in front of their goaltender.

Berenson talked before both games about getting off to a good start and they couldn't do that, instead they were suffocated by slow starts in a tough rough environment against a veteran team.

The lone bright spot was a well deserved goal from Max Shuart, his first as a Wolverine. At the end of the day, the young Wolverines have some soul searching to do but they have time and a favorable schedule on their side. They'll have a week off before starting a 7 game homestand against AIC, Penn State, RPI and Ohio State.

Five Keys
  1. Special Teams: The Jekyll and Hyde approach to special teams continued, going 0-for-13 on the power play. Even with multiple 5-on-3's they weren't even hitting the net; they overpassed and moved the puck too slow, letting MTU move into the shooting lanes and easily block their shots. The Huskies put on a clinic with their power play moving the puck quickly and sitting in the soft spots of the coverage for easy goals. After killing 6 penalties Friday night, the Wolverine PK allowed MTU to score on four consecutive man advantages to start Saturday's game.

  2. Mel vs Red: A dominating performance from the Huskies started with their game plan and it was simple, but magnificently effective. They turned the Wolverines biggest strength, their speed, into a disadvantage by pushing them to the outside in transition. The Michigan forwards were funneled down the half-boards the entire series, forcing shots on net from areas that never were a threat to go in.

  3. Showing Their Youth: After a strong showing in Boston, the youth factor shouldn't have been as big of an issue as it was but Michigan never matched the intensity that Tech brought. JT Compher was ejected from Saturday's game and Mike Downing was tossed from both games while the veteran core of Pietila, Petan, Kero and Johnstone came out energized but never lost their heads.

  4. Line Juggling: To this point, Red's decisions with his lines and pairings had paid off. They split up the top line and moved JT Compher back to center and Tyler Motte to play with Copp. The results weren't bad, but the next night Compher was back on the wing. This was a problem last season; when the team is struggling to score goals, changing the lines before every game does not help.

  5. Tech Is The Real Deal: The Huskies had a lot to prove this weekend and what they proved that this is a tournament team. They're winning with a lethal transition attack, special teams and solid defense. Jamie Phillips is a star in goal with a .954 SV% and a 1.34 GAA on the season.

Up next the Wolverines are off for Thanksgiving before welcoming American International to Yost