The story of Michigan Tech’s 2009-10 season was the much of the same as it has been the past few years: Enter the season with low external expectations. Live up to them, finishing dead last (and with fewer points than the year before). Get a few wins here and there, keep a few games close here and there.
It has been the recent history of Tech hockey, but it still doesn’t keep coach Jamie Russell from trying to change it, and in a few different ways.
First of all, he has a larger roster than usual for practicality purposes.
“We do have a lot of players on our roster because of the last two seasons, because we’ve had so many injuries, especially last year when we had so many games when we couldn’t even dress a complete roster,” he said.
Secondly, the Huskies, sans their incoming freshmen, went to Europe this summer to play a few games. This was good not only for the fairly obvious reasons such as team bonding and team building, but also for tweaking things for the upcoming season.
“[The trip] helped with the implementation of some new systems,” Russell said. “We altered our D zone a little bit, we changed how we forecheck, we changed what we do in the neutral zone, so it gave us a laboratory, so to speak, to try out some new ideas [and] some new concepts.”
A change can do you good, so goes the song, and Tech can hope that some change will do it good, too.
Last season, the Huskies had eight players with double-digit scoring. They lost three of those players to graduation, though it should be noted that one was a defenseman and one was a utility player that switched positions.
Still, the upside is that the team returns over half of its offense, including leading scorer Brett Olson, a junior. If the team can stay healthy and adapt to Russell’s new systems, the offense should pick up a bit.
Russell’s faith in his team doesn’t hurt, either.
“We feel we can score more goals this year with the talent that we’ve brought in and our returning scoring,” he said.
On the blue line
The Huskies’ D corps lost quite a bit in seniors Drew Dobson, Mike VanWagner and Eli Vlaisavljevich. However, the back line as a whole is quite young and defense is a position where players typically get stronger with age.
The team will look to players such as senior Deron Cousens, junior Ricky Doriott and sophomore Steven Seigo to help pick up the slack.
In the crease
If the Huskies have one strength this year, it’s that they have both goaltenders returning in junior Josh Robinson and sophomore Kevin Genoe. Both should get plenty of playing time this season.
“Both have a lot of experience coming into this season,” Russell said. “We feel that both goaltenders can play. We’ll split them early and hopefully we’ll get strong play from both of them and continue; if there is a separation between the two, then we will make the switch to one.”