Bringing Positive Attitude to Stretch Run
Last week was a trying one for at least one
member of the Michigan Tech Huskies, on and off the ice.
But a positive attitude led to an on-ice point where there
otherwise might have been none to be had.
Tech's Lars Helminen dealt with a death in his family,
and then returned to the lineup to help the Huskies
to a tie at Minnesota State.
Huskies senior defenseman Lars Helminen had
barely come down from his team getting a win and tie versus
Colorado College when a call from suburban Detroit that
nobody wants to field came from his parents.
"I got a call Monday morning from my
mother telling me that my grandpa was really ill, and it
could be two hours or two days," Helminen said. "I
was up (in Houghton) and got the call and took a trip downstate
for the wake and the funeral."
His 77-year-old paternal grandfather was laid
to rest on Friday morning, and just a few hours later Helminen
was on a plane bound for Minnesota. He got to Mankato a
few hours before the Huskies game with Minnesota State,
and wasted no time getting into the action. Helminen had
one assist and hit the pipe at least once as Tech rallied
from an early 2-0 hole for a 2-2 tie.
"He logs a ton of ice time for us,"
said Huskies coach Jamie Russell after the game. "He's
skating so well and he's done that his whole career. He's
bringing the puck up ice with so much confidence and is
great at leading by example."
Russell said the defenseman's play, and mindset,
is a perfect example of the attitude he tries to instill
"We're a team that plays on emotion and
it's got to be positive emotion. Kicking the boards and
banging your stick on the ice isn't going to help anybody,"
Russell said. "With what he's gone through with a death
in the family and a busy couple days, as the game wore on
he was stronger and stronger."
The Huskies suffered a tough overtime loss
the next night, but head into the final month of the season
still fighting for their first home ice position in more
than a decade. And a chance of wearing white sweaters in
the playoffs seems to inspire all of the positive emotion
that this team needs.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE WCHA
Shorties are the specialty in Mankato:
Minnesota State coach Troy Jutting gives his penalty killers
permission to stay up high instead of sucking in toward
the net. The result so far has been a league-high seven
short-handed goals for the Mavericks this year.
Last Friday versus Michigan Tech, with the
Mavs already leading 1-0 and killing a penalty, Jon Kalinski
waited until a pass was en route from Huskies defenseman
Drew Dobson to Lars Helminen, then pounced on the play.
"I caught (the puck) at the same time
the guy came through," Helminen said. "I didn't
even see him coming and as soon as I got the puck, the guy
was already past me."
Kalinski came in all alone on Huskies goalie
Michael-Lee Teslak from the far blue line, and thwarted
the poke-check attempt to score his 13 goal of the season,
and fourth short-hander, which ties him for the NCAA lead
and tied a school single-season record. In his normal understated
way, the Mavs coach likes what he sees.
"Our penalty kill has been really good,"
said Troy Jutting. "We've been creating opportunities
Bulldogs feeling better:
Minnesota Duluth pulled off an impressive road win in Denver
last Saturday, grabbing an early lead and holding off several
attempts to rally by the Pioneers. The Bulldogs coach says
a full lineup is the key to his team playing better in the
last few weeks.
"We're healthy for the first time all
year," said Scott Sandelin, as his team prepared for
a weekend off. "We've shown that we're not deep enough
to have three or four guys out of the lineup."
Great Weekend Getaway
at Michigan Tech
With league-leading Minnesota off this weekend, the
Pioneers are hungry to make up some ground on the
Golden Gophers after a surprising home loss to Minnesota
Duluth last weekend. After getting just one point
out of Mankato in their last series, the Huskies are
sensing time might be running out if they're to make
a run at home ice.
While You're There: It's Winter
Carnival weekend in Houghton, which means a full slate
of fun events and snow sculpture viewing surrounding
a pair of hockey games. The Saturday hockey game is
an early start (5 p.m. EST) and is followed immediately
by a torchlight parade (across Portage Lake at the
school-owned Mont Ripley ski area) and a fireworks
recognition was bestowed upon a good friend and INCH
contributor Jeff Sauer recently when he was
elected to the athletic hall of fame at his alma mater,
Colorado College. Sauer playerd for the Tigers
in the 1960s, later coached CC and Wisconsin to 655
wins and two NCAA titles over the course of more than
30 seasons behind a college hockey bench.
Duluth has the league's best power play, and the league's
worst penalty kill. Conversely, Michigan Tech has
the league's worst power play and the best penalty
kill. So how does it makes sense
that the Bulldogs lead the league in combined special
teams, while Tech is ranked 10th in the same category?
Much like other coaches in the league, Sandelin
said the bye weekend might be as important as any league
points at this point of the season, as the Bulldogs battle
to escape the league cellar.
"We get guys a chance to rest up and
heal up," he said. "After this, we shouldn't hear
any excuses about guys being tired down the stretch."
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BAG
• Their January slump notwithstanding,
Minnesota apparently hasn't forgotten how to crank up the
offense when needed. The Gophers' 8-2 win in Anchorage last
Friday was their second eight-goal outburst of the season.
They beat Michigan 8-2 on Thanksgiving weekend.
• If Andreas Nodl felt jealous at all
when fellow St. Cloud State rookie Ryan Lasch got a national
honor this season, it didn't last long. Lasch was named
the national rookie of the month in November, and Nodl,
who had 11 points in eight games in the month, got the same
national nod for January.
• Mike Eaves enters this weekend's series
with Alaska Anchorage with a 99-75-21 all-time record coaching
his alma mater. One more win and Eaves will become the third
Badgers coach (after Bob Johnson with 367 and Jeff Sauer
with 489) to win 100 games.
• With him leading the WCHA in goals
(with 21) and ranking third in the nation in the same category,
it's not surprising to hear Ryan Duncan's name being kicked
about in Hobey talk. Solid offensively all season, Duncan
really opened eyes during North Dakota's sweep at Minnesota,
notching four goals and three assists in the two games,
and earning WCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
• It's a common fact of college hockey
that one can have a good time in Madison, even if you have
to travel across four time zones to get there – which
is the case for Alaska Anchorage this weekend. While some
teams tout a home ice advantage, Alaska Anchorage seems
to thrive on road trips to Wisconsin. Of the Seawolves 10
all-time wins over the Badgers, seven of them have been
of sources were utilized in the compilation of this report.
Jess Myers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.