Men's Big Ten Hockey

CCHA RinkRap: Chaos Reigns

CCHA RinkRap: Chaos Reigns

This week in RinkRap, the CCHA's topsy-turvy season continues as parity rules and Michigan Tech quickly acclimates to a new crop of players.

Dec 5, 2022 by Tim Rappleye
CCHA RinkRap: Chaos Reigns

This week in RinkRap, the CCHA's topsy-turvy season continues as parity rules and Michigan Tech quickly acclimates to a new crop of players. 

A World Turned Upside Down

When Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington and his tattered upstarts in Yorktown back in 1781, the British band played the appropriate song, “A World Turned upside Down.” Well,Well, it’s time to get the band back together again, because the CCHA could use that tune as its anthem this season.

On consecutive weeks the two teams predicted for the CCHA cellar have both enjoyed stunning six-point sweeps, the most shocking of the two being Ferris State bussing up to Mankato and sweeping nationally-ranked Minnesota State. 

“It certainly wasn’t our expectation,” said coach Bob Daniels, whose Bulldogs find themselves smack in the middle of the CCHA standings after exiting Mankato like cat-burglars, stealing six points despite being outshot by a preposterous 73-26 margin in the two victories.

“Tonight it didn’t have the feel that the shots (39-13) were that far in their favor,” said Daniels, as his staff was loading up the getaway vehicle in the background.

“We need to address our save percentage,” said MNSU coach Mike Hastings, whose Mavericks hadn’t been swept at home since Omaha pulled the caper seven years ago.

Ahh . . . Goaltending. The words of former BU coaching legend Jack Parker always echoes after results like these. 

“They shouldn’t call it hockey, they should call it goalie.” 

Ferris thoroughly demonstrated this past weekend that they have a clear edge over the five-time reigning league champs in the most important role in sports. 

“We’re in an enviable position of having two guys that are both very good,” said Daniels, describing his prized stoppers, Noah Giesbrecht and Andrew Stein, who both claimed impressive wins over the once-invulnerable Mavericks. The Minnesota State broadcasters were shocked that Daniels decided to start Stein Saturday after Giesbrecht’s 38-save masterpiece the night before.

“We thought about going back-to-back, but the deciding factor was that we were in our zone a lot (Friday), so Noah was in a crouch,” said Daniels. 

“There’s a lot of wear and tear on a goaltender when the puck’s in your end as much as it was last night, takes a toll on a guy.” 

So after weighing all his options, the wise elder made the correct call, and has two very happy goalies, and no controversy. 

“Both guys have played great all year.”

Daniels, who is no stranger to the national tournament, is finally back in the hunt with a dangerous squad in a much-improved league. 

“We’ve got a lot of really good teams, (we’ve) put ourselves in the mix right now.”

As the last of the bulging red duffel bags were piled into the idling bus, the coach with the longest tenure in Division-I hockey was ready for the 10-hour bus ride home to Big Rapids. There would be no change in routine, no sirloins or filets to reward his hungry warriors. 

“They’ll get their pizza, and they’ll enjoy it,” Daniels said with a laugh. 

“I don’t think they care what they get, they’re going to be in a good mood.”

Filling The Void

Michigan Tech Joe Shawhan can’t help but ponder hockey analytics, whether it’s individuals’ scoring-chance differential, man-games lost to injury, or offense lost to graduation. He agreed with the pundits that predicted that his Huskies would finish out of home ice in the CCHA playoffs. 

“My concern was extreme,” said Shawhan after Saturday’s impressive win over rival Northern Michigan. 

“So many guys hadn’t proved themselves at this level.”

Now his club has 10 wins, arriving as an unexpected force in the CCHA. 

“We’re growing, getting better.” Shawhan said, “I feel part of something really, really special.”

A former anonymous checker from last year’s fourth line has exploited his opportunity to shine this season. 

“I wanted to make a big step this year with all the guys leaving,” said junior Ryland Mosley, who leads the team in nearly every offensive category. 

“I had a good summer here, a good summer at home, I thought I could take the next step, and it feels good.”

Mosley’s offensive heroics, including two brilliant short-side snipes on Saturday, has made him a favorite post-game interview within the UP Hockey community. 

“I shot for the open corner there, I work with Shells (Tyler Shelast) and Jordy (Jordy Murray) a lot with shooting and changing the angle, and I got two nice goals tonight.” 

And then the kid with the bright copper hair broke from his role and split into a guilty grin.

But it was an Aussie spouting the Queen’s English who stole the post-game up in Houghton Saturday. Senior Tyler Bronte ended his scoring slump and ignited the combustible crowd with a breathtaking blast. He broke down the play with blunt honesty.  

“I started skating up the ice, and found the puck creeping towards me. I essentially just closed my eyes and hit [it] as hard as I could.” 


The bolt of lightning changed everything: the ugly memory of losing in overtime the night before; the days of his line struggling to get ice time and points; all of that became a thing of the past after his crack of the bat. 

Bronte’s line of Levi Stauber and Nick Nardella, numbers 5, 6 and 7, respectively,7, respectively, on the lineup card, are the talk of the peninsula.

“Wow, they were incredible, that’s all I can say,” Shawhan spouted. 

“Their line was doing so well, Bronte with his speed, Stauber was strong on the puck, you had to roll with that. I thought we really found some hockey players.”

Unlike his head coach, Bronte never wavered in his belief that this new wave of Huskies would thrive. 

“We knew we could do it from the very beginning, we believed in ourselves,” said the kid with the brogue from Down Under. 

While Shawhan is delighted in the fact that his club has reached double-digit wins thus far, his troops are not content. 

“We’re upset that [we] only have 10,” said Bronte. 

“We want more, and we’re not done.”

Special thanks to the Michigan Tech Sports Information department for its contributions to this report.