It’s the first (real) weekend of the season, and it was a pretty entertaining one for the WCHA. Here’s three things I noticed from around the league:
1. Tech looked solid in Ice Breaker win
Michigan Tech entered the weekend’s Ice Breaker tournament in Duluth as the lowest-ranked team in the four-team field. The Huskies ended up surprising everyone and winning the whole thing. Tech, who started the season last week with a loss to Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame game, scored a whopping six goals against Union on Friday before rallying from a two-goal first-period deficit Saturday to beat the host Bulldogs 4-3. It’s only three games into the season, but the Huskies have already scored 12 goals from nine different players. For a team that is unsure about its defense and goaltending to start the season, having such a balanced offense down the stretch will do this team some good if they can keep it up.
2. Frustrating night for Mavericks
Minnesota State, the league’s presumptive preseason favorite, were shut out in their season opener Saturday against instate rivals St. Cloud State. The Huskies beat the Mavericks 4-0 despite MSU outshooting SCSU 42-26. The Mavs put 16 shots on St. Cloud goalie Jeff Smith in the third period alone — but were outscored 2-0 in the final period. It was only one game, but MSU will need to regroup and find some finishes really quick — they head to Boston for a road series against BU next week.
3. Fun in Alaska
Neither Alaska school won this weekend — that’s a fact. However, both the Seawolves and the Nanooks managed to take a pair of ranked teams to the brink. Alaska Anchorage went to overtime both nights against North Dakota thanks mainly to the play of goaltender Olivier Mantha. Mantha made 74 saves over two nights. UAA tied UND Friday thanks to Jordan Xavier’s late goal. On Saturday, the Seawolves rallied from a two-goal deficit to tie the game at 2-2 in the third period before they lost 3-2 on OT. That game, however, featured an early save of the year candidate from Mantha, who robbed UND’s Joel Janatuinen with an insane rollover glove grab. The Nanooks, too, showed themselves well, losing to ranked Air force in an entertaining 3-2 game Friday before earning a 1-1 tie Saturday. The Nanooks will need to work on special teams — they had numerous chances to cash in on power plays but went just 1-for-15 on the weekend. They’re at St. Cloud State for another nonconference series this weekend.