VIEWING NOTE: There is NO television for this weekend’s games. You can buy a webcast at huskieslive.mtu.edu for $12 per game. There are no free streams.
HOUGHTON, Mich. — No travel problems. It’s not snowing. It’s warmer than Grand Forks. And I just got a 20 oz. Powerade out of the hotel vending machine for $1. What a start to the trip.
Who knows how long it will be until UND comes back here. So, in advance of UND’s final trip to Houghton as a member of the WCHA, the local paper decided to get things revved up by running a fiery column, trashing UND for its move to the NCHC. Read that here.
I will say one thing about the column: UND’s perception of Michigan Tech is not what the columnist thinks it is. I’ve had private conversations with staff members where they will give their unfiltered opinion on subjects, and I can promise you when they say they respect Michigan Tech and how it does things, that is truly how they feel.
And if you know coach Dave Hakstol, you know he loves traditional hockey spots and these trips that others may dread because of travel logistics. I have no doubt you will see UND back in places like Houghton and Anchorage. When? I’m not sure. But I’m sure it will happen.
UND forward Corban Knight will enter tonight’s game on an 11-game point streak. Once again, he’s been under the radar. Nobody around the league really talks about Knight, but he’s one of the top players in the WCHA (and currently is outscoring the league’s preseason player of the year by more than double in league games). Read a feature on Knight here.
The Q&A is with Mark MacMillan, who talks about his linemates, his brother and playing golf with his teammates. Read that here.
This week’s On The Ice column is about the proposed new NCAA tournament format. I wrote a column like this two years ago, but perhaps the proposed format has received some new life thanks to comments by NCAA Ice Hockey Committee chairman Tom Nevala. Read it here.
In Thursday’s paper, I wrote about the extra attention college hockey has received in the absence of the NHL. I was able to interview John Buccigross and Pierre McGuire for the piece, both of whom say they’ve enjoyed the college season thus far. Read that here.
I also have a couple of stories that weren’t in that article. I was told that after McGuire covered the Ice Breaker to open the season, he went to his producers and asked them to put him on as many college hockey games as possible this season. He has truly enjoyed them.
Also, College Hockey Inc.’s Nate Ewell said he sent McGuire some notes before going to the Ice Breaker this year. Then, Ewell found out that McGuire had already talked to three of the four head coaches to prepare. Buccigross also will e-mail College Hockey Inc., if he has a question about something he’s watching in a game.
These guys are preparing for these games like they would for an NHL playoff game, and that’s why we’re seeing so many high quality broadcasts and why Buccigross has become hugely popular among fans.
The USCHO weekly column has a great note that after this series, Tech’s Blake Pietila and UND’s Rocco Grimaldi will board the same flight to go to the World Junior camp together. Both players were at the NTDP together. Read the column here.
If you haven’t seen the Winnipeg Free Press story on UND sophomore Stephane Pattyn, check it out here.
This week’s episode of Through These Doors is located here. You have to go and watch the clip that runs during the credits. Pretty hilarious.
Finally, my pick for the series: UND takes three points. This Tech team may have more skill than any since I’ve started on the beat. It also will try to clog it up on the smaller NHL ice sheet against UND.
Elsewhere around the WCHA….
Huntsville at Wisconsin: The Badgers allowed just nine shots in winning the series opener 5-0 in front of an announced crowd of 7,473. Nic Kerdiles and Michael Mersch both had two-goal games. Pick: Wisconsin sweep.
MSU-Mankato at Nebraska-Omaha: The marquee series in the league is the battle of the Mavs. Mankato has won six in a row. Omaha is 8-2 in the last 10. This should be a great test for Mankato, which is 8-0-2 against teams with a losing record and is 1-5 against teams with a winning record. Pick: Split.
Minnesota-Duluth at Alaska Anchorage: Remember when UND left Fairbanks? Seems like a long time ago. Well, Anchorage has one win since then. It has been a rough go for the Seawolves and Duluth won’t make it any easier. Pick: Duluth sweep.
Colorado College at St. Cloud State: The Tigers only have one win in their last eight games… and seven of those were at home. Going on the road to St. Cloud State is going to be a difficult task (it will be CC’s first trip outside Colorado since Nov. 3. Pick: St. Cloud State sweep.
Denver at Bemidji State: The Pioneers are on their longest winless streak (six games) in 13 years. I say that ends tonight against a Bemidji State team that has just two wins in its last 10 games. Pick: Denver sweep.
That’s it for now. Check back this afternoon for a video preview of the series with myself and Tom Miller. And, as always, we’ll fire up the live chat about 20 minutes before puck drop. Catch you then.