Series of the Week Preview: Minnesota Duluth vs Michigan Tech
No. 3 Minnesota Duluth, the reigning NCAA champions, has its first complete road series this week against No. 19 Michigan Tech. The Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs are looking to be the first team to repeat a championship win in 13 years.
The Bulldogs finished last season with a 25-16-3 record, their final win being against Notre Dame in the NCAA Frozen Four Championship. One of their losses, however, came from Michigan Tech 4-3 on Duluth’s home ice in the Ice Break Tournament.
Minnesota Duluth will have some struggles without last year’s captain Karson Kuhlman. Kuhlman scored once and assisted another in the championship game and had been productive for them that whole season. He scored 12 goals and had seven assists.
Michigan Tech finished with a 22-17-5 record last season. Its season ended with a 4-3 loss to Notre Dame in the NCAA Tournament East Region Semifinal. The week before that, however, they beat Northern Michigan 2-0 to win the WCHA Championship game.
The Bulldogs fell short of expectations in their season-opening series with a 1-1 tie and a 4-7 loss to Minnesota. The disappointing outcomes dropped the Bulldogs down from No. 1 to No. 3 in the rankings.
Despite the poor start, Bulldog fans have reasons for optimism coming into the season. Of the 26 players from last year’s winning squad, 19 of them are returning, including their top scorer Riley Tufte. He finished last season with 16 goals and 12 assists. Tufte is also backed by the next six highest scorers on the team. Parker Mackay is suiting up as captain this year for the Bulldogs, and proving himself as a leader for the team will be crucial in potentially repeating last year’s performance.
On the Huskies side, senior Jake Lucchini is weaing the C this year, and led the team in power-play goals, game-winning goals and shorthanded goals.
Looking for their first win will be tough on a top-20 ranked team’s home ice. The Michigan Tech Huskies are positive in wins against the Bulldogs all time, and the crowd in Houghton will be making it hard for the visitors to pull away with any wins. These games will mark the 231st and 232nd meetings between the two teams.
The Huskies have 18 returning players from the last season, where they finished ranked No. 16, making it their fourth-straight season finishing in the top 20.
This weekend’s series will be an interesting matchup between a proven powerhouse and a team looking to make a statement. Duluth getting their first win in one of these two games will certainly help them return to the greatness they had last season, and on Michigan Tech’s side, proving last year’s win against the Bulldogs wasn’t a fluke will definitely help their ranking and potentially bring them into the conversation as one of this year’s top teams.
Francesco de Falco is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.