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Huskies not panicking/Inside the Huskies

November 6, 2012
By Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Voters expect results from their elected officials just like fans expect results from their teams. While everyone seems to have a different definition of political success, sports success is ultimately measured solely by wins and losses.

Which is why concern seems to be setting in among the Michigan Tech hockey fan base.

Losing once to No. 1 Minnesota: not a big deal. Getting swept at No. 5 Denver: slightly concerning, but still justified against a great opponent. Getting swept at home against unranked Nebraska-Omaha: Panic!

Ok, not quite. Having talked to many Tech fans since the UNO series, it's obvious to me many people are starting to think "here we go again" after this five-game losing streak, perhaps a natural reaction after suffering through decades of offseason optimism followed by subpar seasons.

But, while 1-5 is obviously not the Western Collegiate Hockey Association record the Huskies wanted to start with, Tech coach Mel Pearson is still optimistic.

"We'll be fine. I like our team, there's a lot of good things going on in that locker room. We could easily be 3-3 or better with a bounce here, bounce there. It's a fine line every night in these games," he said. "We need to continue to work on getting better in a few areas, then we need some bounces, some breaks here and there, and we definitely need better goaltending. That'll help right there - if we just get that we'll be a better team."

Freshman goaltender Pheonix Copley has started six of Tech's eight regular season games, but he only has a 1-5 record with a 4.30 goals against average and .854 save percentage.

"He's looked really good in practice. Unfortunately he's got to get those weak goals out of his game," Pearson said. "I don't know how we're going to go about that. It's nice to see Kevin Genoe's effort. Being a senior, it might be his time, so we'll see."

Genoe has only started two games, but he also stopped all 15 shots he faced in the third period of Saturday's 5-3 loss in relief of Copley. He now owns a 1-1 record with a 2.64 goals against average and .913 save percentage.

Goaltending is obviously critical, but it's important to go back to another point Pearson made about getting some breaks. It may sound like a bit of an excuse, but anyone who's watched the games this year knows the Huskies have fallen on some hard luck. UNO coach Dean Blais thinks so, too.

"They're obviously a well-coached team and have a lot of confidence, although they're running into some tough times right now, because they out shot Denver both games last week and got nothing, played hard this weekend and got nothing," he said. "But hard work will make up for a lot of the bad luck they might be going through right now. We got a few good bounces in there, too."

But the Mavericks earned their good bounces. Pearson called UNO the hardest working team Tech has played this year, and the Huskies could learn a thing or two about that relentless approach. Pearson was pleased with his team's effort overall, but it's going to take even harder work by Tech's relatively young roster to dig out of the current funk.

"I think we're a young team and right now our confidence is a little bit low," admitted Tech junior defenseman and assistant captain Brad Stebner. "When we're working hard and not getting the bounces and the other team gets up on us we're getting a little bit deflated.

"Right now we have to work on communicating with each other and staying up and staying positive and get some of these guys going. We have a lot of young talent up front and if we keep pushing them and keep sticking together here I think we're going to turn this around very quickly."

Now the team has a week "off" to address some of the issues and restore some confidence. Whether or not your glass is half full and you're drinking the kool-aid, the message from Pearson to his players is simple, and it's one that should resonate with fans, too: "We have to remain positive and stick together. That's number one. We have a lot of hockey left. We're dealing with some adversity right now. We can't change the past, but we have a say in what's going to happen in the future."

Stephen Anderson can be reached at Follow him on Twitter at and interact throughout the week about Tech hockey, football and volleyball with the #mtuhky, #mtufb and #mtuvb hashtags.



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