Michigan Tech vs Minnesota State: Class Warfare In The WCHA

Much has been made of No. 2 Minnesota State’s supreme senior class, dubbed in this space as college hockey’s answer to “the Magnificent Seven,” and rightfully so. This Mankato septet has powered the Mavericks to a nation-best 31 wins. 

There is another WCHA class that has earned far less notoriety, but which has led another club to the WCHA semifinals: the sophomores of Michigan Tech. Five of Tech’s eight sophomores are impact players: the WCHA’s current forward of the week Tommy Parrottino; team scoring leaders Trent Bliss and Alec Broetzman (27 points apiece); and defensemen Eric Goetz and Colin Swoyer, both having reached the elite 20-point plateau for blueliners.

Parrottino netted four goals in Tech’s road sweep over rival Northern Michigan in last weekend’s quarterfinals, while Gotz, Broetzman, and Swoyer all recorded assists in the series, Gotz setting up the tying goal in Saturday’s clincher. 

“I’m very happy to watch these young men grow,” said head coach Joe Shawhan after Parrottino’s natural hat trick Friday night. “We’re all learning. You have to learn how to be your best at big moments.”

Shawhan’s young men will be facing their biggest moment of the season when they travel to Mankato this weekend to face off against WCHA superpower Minnesota State. 

Mavericks co-captain and leading scorer Marc Michaelis is a quiet and humble leader. He did a quick analysis of the WCHA’s Magnificent Seven:

Charlie Gerard 5-foot-9 Wing

“Chuckie is the energy-bringer to our group. It doesn’t matter what mood he’s in — he always makes people laugh and smile, a really fun guy to be around.”

Parker Tuomie 5-10 Wing

“Parker and Chuckie are pretty similar in a lot of ways. He’s so competitive, coach [Mike Hastings] said it earlier, ‘There’s nobody that wants to win more than Parker Tuomie,’ and he’s absolutely right.”

Nick Rivera 5-10 Wing

“Nicky’s my co-captain; he and I mesh really well together. He’s the mouth of us, he talks a lot. He makes sure before weekends the team is on point, and everybody’s dialed in.”

Edwin Hookenson 6-0 Defenseman

“Hookey is kind of like myself, really quiet leader who leads by example, a selfless individual on and off the ice. He doesn’t get a lot of credit, but he plays such an important part.”

Ian Scheid 5-11 Defenseman

“He comes to work every day. One of the best offensive defensemen I’ve ever played with. I really hope he’s going to break the [school] record for most points by a defenseman in the Division I era.”

Josh French 5-11 Center

“Josh is probably the most mature person of all of us. You feel that every decision he makes in his life, he makes the right decision. He had a big weekend [vs Bemidji] and he had a big weekend the week before when I came back. It’s good to see him take his [game] to another level.

“These are guys you want to be around, guys you want to spend your time with,” Michaelis said of his Maverick classmates. 

He is clearly hoping for the storybook ending, in which he and his remarkable senior class make history by leading the Mavericks to another WCHA championship and their first Frozen Four.

But a formidable obstacle stands in their way: a Michigan Tech team that is just discovering how good they can be. Their class of sophomores is eager to go toe-to-toe with the Maverick seniors. This sets up a classic crossroads confrontation: the veteran champs against the blossoming contenders. This weekend the timeless question will be answered once again: will youth be served?

Tim Rappleye is the author of Jack Parker's Wiseguys: The National Champion BU Terriers, the Blizzard of '78, and the Road to the Miracle on Ice. He can be reached on Twitter @TeeRaps.

New Flames Signing Connor Mackey Happy With Final Season In Mankato

Minnesota State junior Connor Mackey is the poster child for NHL late bloomers. After being an afterthought during his teenage draft-eligible years, the 23-year-old Mackey was the prize of the NCAA free-agent signings, as the Calgary Flames landed their big fish late last week.

How Fans Are Getting Through The Coronavirus Hockey Hiatus

Since the NHL’s mandated season suspension, hockey fans have longed for action for nearly two weeks, but creativity and spontaneity have helped satisfy during the outbreak of COVID-19.

WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson Talks COVID-19, League Future & More

When it comes to crisis management in sports, WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson has earned a PhD. The man affectionately known as “Billy Rob” was public relations director for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim during the NHL’s 104-day lockout in 1994-95, and he held the same post for the Minnesota Wild when the NHL shut down their entire season a decade later. 

Coronavirus Another Threat To NHL Records Of Ovechkin, Crosby & More

As the NHL hiatus continues due to the threat of the coronavirus, the potential loss of regular-season games is a reminder of missed opportunities among NHL superstars.

Army's Brian Riley Reflects On 'What If' In A Season Lost To COVID-19

The cruelest two words in sport: “What if?” 

NHL Signings To Watch For Following COVID-19 NCAA Cancelation

As coronavirus concerns spread and precautions are taken, the NCAA is just one of many entities that has announced the cancelation of the 2019-20 season, which could be followed by a wave of NHL signings.

The Strangest Ending: The Inside Story Of COVID-19 Dismantling NCAA Hockey

“You’re not in the locker room . . . guys sitting in their gear. WE’RE ON A BUS JUST TRYING TO FIGURE OUT WHAT THE HELL WE’RE GOING TO DO!”

NCAA Hockey Canceled For The Remainder Of The Season Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

College hockey is done for the season. 

2020 Atlantic Hockey Playoffs Canceled Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Shortly after the WCHA canceled the remainder of their season due to concerns around the spread of the coronavirus, Atlantic Hockey has followed suit. The rest of the playoffs have been canceled. 

Remainder Of The WCHA Postseason Canceled Among Coronavirus Concerns

The remainder of the 2020 WCHA playoffs have been canceled. You can read the full press release below issued by the conference.