Northern Michigan, Michigan Tech to renew hockey rivalry

Courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics

Michigan Tech heads to Marquette Friday (Dec. 16) for a single game against its arch rival Northern Michigan at the Berry Events Center. The 9-8-1 Huskies are coming off a split at No. 2 Minnesota last weekend. The 8-7-3 Wildcats also split its last two games at No. 15 Lake Superior State. Tech and NMU both hold identical .528 winning percentages coming into their first meeting of the season—the latest matchup of the rivals in a season since the the 1995-96 campaign when they didn’t play until Dec. 30.

Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan have squared off 124 times since the series began in 1979. The Wildcats own a 63-48-13 advantage, although the Huskies are 4-2-2 in the last eight meetings. The squads faced each other three times a year ago, with a 4-3 overtime Tech win Oct. 8, a 4-4 overtime tie Oct. 12 and a 6-2 NMU victory Dec. 17.

Sophomore defenseman Daniel Sova had a breakout series at Minnesota last weekend with a goal and three assists. He figured into four of the team’s five goals on the weekend, blasting a goal from the point on the power play and notching three assists including one on the overtime game winner Friday (Dec. 9). Sova, with the 1-3–4 last weekend, now has 2-8–10 in 18 games this season.

Senior Jordan Baker extended his point streak to seven games with an assist on the game-winning goal Friday and a power-play goal Saturday in Minnesota. The forward has scored one point in each of the last seven games starting with the Saturday (Nov. 19) contest at Alaska Anchorage. Baker owns 4-11–15 on the season and 32-37–69 in 125 career games.

Captain Brett Olson recorded his second overtime game-winning goal of the season when he scored 33 seconds into the extra session last Friday (Dec. 9) at Minnesota. The senior forward skated from neutral ice around two Gopher defenders before finishing through the legs of Kent Patterson. Olson’s other game-winner came vs. Wisconsin on Oct. 15, 2011, giving the Huskies a 3-2 victory just 20 seconds into that OT. Olson has 18 points on the season and at least one point in 15-of-18 outings.

Goaltender Josh Robinson started both games of the series at Minnesota and moved his career record vs. the Gophers to 2-2-0. The senior is 8-6-1 this year with a .916 save percentage and 2.65 goals against average. He continues to rank third in the WCHA in save percentage.

Six different Tech players have scored five goals or more in just 18 games this season. A year ago, the Huskies had just four five-goal scorers all season. The team leaders in goals for 2011-12 is Milos Gordic with seven. The others with five or more are: Tanner Kero (six), Brett Olson (six), Blake Pietila (six), Ryan Furne (five) and Jacob Johnstone (five).

The Huskies jumped up to 11th in the nation in power play at 22.8 percent after going 3-for-7 at Minnesota last weekend. Jordan Baker, Steven Seigo and Daniel Sova all had power-play goals vs. the Gophers. For the season, Seigo leads the team in power-play goals with four.

Michigan Tech snapped a seven-game skid in the series with Minnesota by virtue of a 3-2 overtime victory Friday (Dec. 9) in Minneapolis. It was the second time this season the Huskies had knocked off a No. 2-ranked team, having defeated Denver on Oct. 28 by a 7-2 margin … The Huskies are 4-3-1 against nationally-ranked teams and 3-1-0 against Big Ten schools in 2011-12 … Tech has split each of its last three road series … The Black and Gold are 3-0-1 in overtime games in 2011-12.

Michigan Tech will then have 12 days off before hosting the 47th annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Dec. 29-30. The Huskies will face CCHA foe Michigan State in the GLI’s first semifinal on Friday. Michigan and Boston College will square off in the second semifinal. The GLI Third-Place and Championship games will be played Saturday.