Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Minnesota State University Mavericks

Alltel Center, Mankato, Minnesota
December 12-13, 2008

(above) The Alltel Center in Mankato

The No. 5/6Denver (11-5-1, 7-4-1 WCHA) Pioneers travel to #14 MSU-Mankato (8-5-3, 5-5-2 WCHA) for a two-game WCHA series on Dec. 12-13 in Mankato, Minn. Puck drop is set for 6:37 p.m. MT on Friday and 6:07 PM MT at Alltell Center- both games can be heard on AM 560 in Denver and

DU owns a 14-13-4 advantage over MSUM in the series that dates back to 1997. DU is 5-9-2 including a 1-5-2 in its last eight games against the mavericks, including the memorable 8-7 ‘meltdown’ loss in 2003 when the Pioneers blew a 7-1 lead after losing a number of players to injuries. The last time DU swept the Mavs in Mankato was in 2001.

Mavericks to Watch
MSUM was swept last week by SCSU in a home and home series, and will likely be agitated this weekend. The best player on the Mavs is defenseman Kurt Davis, who anchors the Mav blueline and leads all WCHA defensemen in scoring with 5-16-21, and works the Mavs power play (17.8%). Davis may be the most underrated player in the conference. Offensively, the Mavs have Mick Berge (18 points) and Mike Louwerse with 14, and a senior goalie in Mike Zacharias, whose 8-7-3 record, 2.76 GAA and .911 saves percentage is a considerable upgrade from what the Pios experienced last weekend at MTU.

About Minnesota State University
With more than 14,500 students including nearly 500 international students from 66 countries, MSUM is located on 300 acres overlooking the Minnesota River Valley some 85 miles south of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul, MSUM is the third largest higher educational institution in the state and is part of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system.

The school was originally founded (like WCHA brothers SCSU and UMD) as a state teacher training school. Mankato Normal School, the first name of the university, was founded in 1868, and served 27 students when it opened. In 1921, the school became Mankato State Teachers College and began offering two- and three-year degrees. In 1939, the first four-year degrees were awarded; the first master's degrees were awarded in 1954.

By 1956, enrollment exceeded 3,000. The school then became Mankato State College in 1957, with enrollment of 7,000; In 1975, the name changed again, when MSC became a full-fledged Mankato State University, as enrollment had grown to 14,000 students. In September of 1998, citing a goal of making MSU "the other great public University in Minnesota," then-president, Dr. Richard Rush announced that Mankato State University would become known as Minnesota State University, Mankato, the name it retains today. While some people still call the school Mankato or Mankato State, the proper name of the school is now Minnesota State University, Mankato.

MSUM offers more than 150 programs in six undergraduate colleges, and 82 programs in the College of Graduate Studies. The school's most popular majors are: Business, Education, Health Professions, Computer and Information Science, and Criminal Justice/Corrections, with a majority of students hailing from Minnesota.

About the Minnesota State Hockey Program
Southern Minnesota does not have quite the depth of hockey culture that central and northern Minnesota does, so it’s no surprise that MSUM’s program is a relative newcomer in the grand scheme of Minnesota and WCHA hockey.

While club hockey had been played on campus for years, varsity hockey did not arrive until the late 1960s, when a young coach named Don Brose (left) was able to elevate the club team to NCAA Division II status in 1969-70. Brose would become the one man synonymous with Maverick Hockey for the next 30 years as head coach, as he took the program from club level to the pinnacle of Division II, and then on to Division I, and ultimately, membership in the WCHA.

Brose was able to build his program to Division II Championship status inside of 10 years. His 1977-78 team knocked on the door, becoming NCAA Division II runner up, and the next season, the program was determined to break the door down. The Mavericks went 30-9-1 in 1979-90, won the NCAA Division II National Championship, and Brose was AHCA Coach of the Year. He would go on to 11 NCAA tournament appearances, several more podium finishes, a .606 career winning percentage (536-335-79) and produced 31 Division II all-Americans in his Mankato career. Brose would go on to earn the respect of the entire coaching fraternity, as one of the gentlemen who taught more than the game to his charges.

By the 1990s, the school administration had seen St. Cloud State, a fellow Minnesota State College member, elevate its program to the a viable WCHA member, and with a new 5,000 seat arena named for a local Wireless Company being built in downtown Mankato the opportunity for Division I status beckoned.

The first MSUM team to be a Division I squad appeared in 1996-1997 as an independent, and went 17-14-3, a winning season right out of the game. After three seasons as a D-I independent, the 1999-2000 season saw the Mavericks join the WCHA in Brose’s 30th year as coach. He would proudly take the Mavericks into the WCHA as his swan song in coaching, retiring with a 21-14-4 record.

In 2000-2001, Troy Jutting became coach of the Mavericks, and in only their fourth season in the WCHA, the Mavericks had their greatest season to date in 2002-2003. That year, the Mavericks were less by a dynamic duo of offensive stars, Shane Joseph and Grant Stevenson, who would go on to post 65 and 63 points respectively, leading the Mavs to a second place finish in the WCHA, and an incredible unbeaten stretch between December 13th and February 22 when the Mavs went 13-0-4. The great season resulted in an NCAA berth in the East Regional, where the Mavs fell to Cornell, 5-2, in the school’s only NCAA appearance to date.

Minnesota State Traditions
Since 1977, MSU athletic teams have been called the Mavericks. Prior to that, MSU teams were called the Indians beginning from 1935 -77, and before that the teams were known, variously, as the Peds (short for pedagogue "meaning school teacher or educator"), the Orangemen" and the "Purples."

The 2008-09 season marks the 32nd year for MSU teams to be called the "Mavericks."

The old name, "Indians," was dropped after a 10-year debate, for several reasons, the main objection coming from Native Americans. Another reason was that the school had switched conferences, joining the Northern Intercollegiate and it was felt that it was a good time for a fresh start. Douglas Moore, MSU's president at the time, asked University Relations Director John Hodowanic to begin working on changing the title and a group composed of interested students, faculty, and alumni brainstormed for a list of nearly 75 nicknames. The name "Mavericks," originally suggested by MSU Education Professor Roy Cook, was ultimately chosen over other popular tags such as "Muskies" and "Lightning."

The first design of the nickname was a horse, but Moore maintained that the design too closely resembled the "Golden Mustang" used by Southwest State - another NIC school. Eventually Moore, a native of Texas, suggested it be changed to a steer. It may have had something to do with the many Maverick longhorn steer in the Lone Star state, but the idea stuck and was accepted.

The MSU Athletics logo, itself, has gone through a transition of sorts, with the original design - the words "Mavericks" inside a line drawing of a bull, used from 1977 until 1995. The next logo featured a line drawing of a bull and was first used in the fall of 1995. The third generation design was incorporated in the spring of 2001 and a new rendering was unveiled in the fall of 2004.

MSUM’s school colors were purple and gold, just as they are now. But in a homecoming game in 1936, MSU lost a coin toss to Winona (Minn.) State, who had the same colors. Our teams then wore orange and black or orange and dark blue until 1956 when purple and gold were officially reinstated as the official school colors.

MSUM hockey crowds are perhaps known for playing the well known soccer song (Ole, Ole. Ole) after goals, and for fans sporting cowbells to compliment the Maverick steer visual mascot.

Minnesota State Rouser Lyrics
Hail to our colors, the purple and the gold.
Rally for vict'ry, We're back of you so fight, fight, fight.
You'll conquer our foes all you Mav'ricks brave and bold.
So fight on Minnesota State, Come on let's go, let's go!

Famous Minnesota State alumni

David Backes (ice hockey) - NHL forward, St. Louis Blues (hockey)
Ryan Carter - NHL forward, Anaheim Ducks
Jim Dilling - High jumper, 2007 USA Outdoor Champion Donald D. Gerdts - Co-founder, KOCE-TV
Jennifer Hudspeth - Miss America 2007, Minnesota
Tim Jackman - NHL forward, New York Islanders
Jon Kalinski - NHL forward, Philadelphia Flyers organization
Michael Martin - Chancellor, Louisiana State University
Dennis Miller - former President and CEO, Midwest Wireless
Brad Nessler - Sports commentator, ESPN/ESPN on ABC
Grant Stevenson - NHL forward, Atlanta Thrashers
Melissa Peterman - Actress, Reba (TV series)
Glen Taylor - Founder, Taylor Corporation and Owner, Minnesota Timberwolves
Steven Wagner - NHL defenseman, St. Louis Blues (hockey)
Cedric Yarbrough - Actor, Reno 911!

About Mankato, Minnesota
Mankato is a city of 32,000 located at the confluence of the Minnesota and Blue Earth Rivers in South Central Minnesota, and is the County Seat of Blue Earth County, with about total 85,000 people in the greater Mankato area.

The city was first settled by Parsons King Johnson in 1852, and the city was founded in 1858, as a safe place for building and safe from river flooding. While one popular story exists that the Mankato name was a mistake, with a clerk supposedly misspelling “Mahkato” when he was looking at an explorer’s book naming the local Blue Earth River, the more likely origin is the local river was called Makato Osa Watapa by the local Dakota Indians.

Mankato has a grisly place in American History, as it best known as the sight of the largest mass execution on US soil, when 38 Dakota Native American were hanged in 1862 for participation in an uprising against local citizens. President Abraham Lincoln, at odds with local populace, had pardoned 265 of the 303 people arrested at the behest of a local bishop, but the other 38 swung from nooses on what is now the site of the Blue Earth County Library.

By 1870, the population had grown to 3,000, and 12,000 by 1920, 19,000 by 1950 and 32,000 by 2000.

The largest local employer today is the Taylor Corporation (4,500), and the most famous Mankato resident is probably writer Sinclair Lewis.

The city is probably best known as the home of the Minnesota Vikings Training Camp, where for the last 40 years, the Vikes have made MSUM their summer home, the second longest NFL camp residence behind Green Bay’s camp at St. Norbert’s College in DePere, Wis.

Mankato is also the home of the Happy Chef restaurant chain, including the original Happy Chef restaurant with a 40 foot statue, and was named “funniest city in America” by Hallmark Cards in 2004.

The Series
While the Pioneers are flying along on a five game win streak and outscoring opponents 26-3 and Minnesota State was swept last weekend, the conventional wisdom would say that DU is in the drivers’ seat this weekend. But anyone who knows DU’s recent adventures in Mankato, which include a 1-5-2 record the last eight games at Alltel Center against the Mavs, knows that strange things happen in this series, especially when these teams meet in Mankato.

With DU missing their best defenseman this week (Patrick Wiercioch is in Ottawa, Ontario attending the Canadian Natonal Junior Team selection camp), the Pios will need to compensate his absence from the lineup. Given that DU has struggled when Wiercioch was last out of the lineup for an injury, it will be very hard for DU to replace Wiercioch’s transition-starting first pass, and his power-play skills.

I think DU has the offensive and goaltending advantage this weekend, but I think the Mavs have the defensive edge, as Davis gives the Mavs the equivalent of what Wiercioch gives the Pioneers. DU will need to disrupt Davis, and keep him from feeding players like Berge. Playing at home also helps the Mavs, although DU might enjoy the larger ice surface.

Prediction: Split. MSUM wins Friday, 3-1. Denver wins Saturday 4-1

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Michigan Technological University Huskies

MacInnes Student Ice Arena, Houghton, Mich.
December 5-6, 2008
(above) Blizzard T. Husky

The Series
The No. 7/8 Denver (9-5-1, 5-4-1 WCHA) Pioneers travel to Michigan Tech (2-11-1, 1-8-1 WCHA) for a two-game WCHA series on Dec. 5-6 in Houghton, Mich. Puck drop is set for 5:07 p.m. MT both nights at MacInnes Student Ice Arena - both games will be webcast live on

DU owns a 101-81-18 advantage over Michigan Tech in the series that dates back to 1951. DU split (1-0 win, 2-1 loss) a two-game series last season at Tech. DU is 1-2-1 in its last four games at Tech and 6-2-2 in its last 10 games against the Huskies overall.

Huskies to Watch
Michigan Tech is struggling, and is winless in its last nine contests at 0-8-1. The Huskies were swept last weekend at Bemidji State (3-0, 2-1) to extend their losing streak to five games. The Huskies are led by sophomore forward Jordan Baker (7-2--9) and junior blueliner Drew Dobson (0-9--9). Forwards Brett Olson and Malcolm Gwilliam, who recently suffered a year-ending (and perhaps career –ending) illness have added seven points each, while Rob Nolan (1-8-1, 3.02 GAA, .890 Saves percentage%) and Josh Robinson (1-3-0, 2.96 GAA, .865 SV%) have shared goaltender duties.

About Michigan Tech University
Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech or MTU) is public university of about 7,000 students on a main campus mostly located on the Upper Peninsula (UP) of Michigan in the city of Houghton.

Michigan Tech was founded in 1885 as the Michigan Mining School. Established by the state of Michigan to train mining engineers to operate the then-booming local copper mines on the UP, the school started with four faculty members and twenty-three students. The name soon changed to the Michigan College of Mines (MCM), then Michigan College of Mining and Technology (MCMT), and, in 1964, greatly expanded academic offerings propelled the school to its current designation as Michigan Technological University Although engineering is MTU’s dominant reputational claim to fame and still accounts for some 55 percent of all enrollment, the University also offers more than 120 degree programs, including natural and physical sciences, computing, business, technology, environmental studies, arts, humanities and social sciences.

Michigan Tech is ranked among the top half of all 249 national universities in U.S. News & World Report’s "America’s Best Colleges" and is ranked a "tech powerhouse" by the Princeton Review's "Best 361 Colleges." Michigan Tech is also ranked among the top 500 universities in the world by Shanghai Jiaotong University and number 159 in the nation by Washington Monthly Magazine. In 2007, PC Magazine ranked Michigan Tech the seventh most wired campus in the nation, and U.S. News and World Report ranked five graduate engineering programs among the best in the nation: earth sciences, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering, civil engineering, and materials science and engineering.

Michigan Tech students are primarily from Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois, and about 11 percent are from outside the United States.

Michigan Technological University's Enterprise Program is considered by many to be the University's defining feature. Originally designed and implemented in the fall of 2000, the Enterprise Program allows students from different disciplines to work together to function as a professional company.

About Michigan Tech Hockey Program
Michigan Tech has one of the deeper and more interesting history and traditions in all of college hockey, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. At that time, (especially for a four year period between 1903 and 1907), the little copper mining town of Houghton, Michigan was the start and epicenter of early professional hockey in North America. With Copper being pulled out of the nearby mines, entertainment was needed for the miners, and early professional hockey was seen just the ticket, some ten years before the founding of the National Hockey League in 1917. The top pro players in all of Canada and the United States were recruited to play for the local team, the Portage Lakers, who became “world champion” in that era with a number of players that were later enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. That era ended when Canadian teams began offering more money, but for a while, Houghton will be always known as the birthplace of pro hockey.

At the turn of the century, local entrepreneurs had built a large indoor arena called the Amphidrome (left) to house the new sport, and it wasn’t long before the local college kids also began playing against local teams. Michigan Tech (then called the Michigan College of Mines) students first laced up the skates in around that time (see photo). By 1913, the local entrepreneurs also created a trophy called the MacNaughton Cup (named after the president of the local mining company, James MacNaughton) that was presented to local amateur teams. That trophy is now presented to the WCHA regular season champion, and remains under the stewardship of Michigan Tech.

The first school sponsored team appeared in 1919, and by 1920-22, Tech was facing teams such as Michigan, Notre Dame and Minnesota as well as local non-college teams in a sporadic, independent schedule. Some of the first coaches of the early Michigan Tech teams were Leon Harvey, Elmer Sicotte, Carlos (Cub) Haug, and Ubald J. (Bert) Noblet. Tech also played its early games in the Amphidrome, until it burned down in 1927, and was replaced by a quickly-constructed second wooden Amphidrome that year. That second arena, later renamed Dee Stadium in the 1940s (named after the builder, James Dee) would become the hockey home of the Huskies until the early ‘70s, and still stands today as a municipal ice arena for the City of Houghton.

By 1929-30, the school wanted to become more ambitious with its hockey program and then-coach Bert Noblet arranged for the hockey team to go on an Eastern tour to play against prominent Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, Yale and Princeton. Tech went winless on the tour but made the East aware of its hockey program. Additionally that season, Michigan Tech also whipped a local team from Eagle River, 30-0, to set a national one game scoring record that still stands.

While Michigan Tech continued to play hockey through the 1930s and 1940s, the Huskies accrued only two winning seasons in those 20 years. In 1948, Amo Bessone was named head coach of the Huskies. Bessone who would later become a legend coaching at Michigan State, had to deal with a terrible tragedy when on Jan. 14, 1950, Huskie player Bob Gitzen and team manager Dick Loutit were killed in an early morning bus accident on the trip home from a series at Michigan State. Bessone moved on to coach North Dakota in 1951, to be replaced by Al Renfrew. Michigan Tech then joined the newly formed Midwestern Intercollegiate Hockey League (the forerunner of today’s WCHA) that season. Renfrew’s next four seasons did not produce a winner, but in his 5th season, Renfrew’s 1955-56 squad went 21-7 to finish second in the league, and beat Michigan State in East Lansing, Mich., 3-1, to earn the school’s first NCAA tournament bid to the Broadmoor Ice Palace in Colorado Springs for the four-team NCAA tournament. Michigan Tech won its first NCAA game in the semi-final, beating Boston College, 10-4 with the help of four goals from Ron Stenlund, but two nights later, the Huskies lost to Michigan, 7-5 in NCAA final. While Michigan Tech may have lost the championship game that night, the foundation was being laid for the glory years of the Michigan Tech hockey program.

The ‘glory years’ are synonymous with one big name: coach John MacInnes (left), who was named head coach at Michigan Tech on Nov. 30, 1956. Born in Toronto, Ontario, he had played goalie for the University of Michigan in the 1940s and also played for the Boston Bruins and the Detroit Red Wings in the NHL before coming to MTU, where he would go on become one of the NCAA’s great coaching legends from 1956 to 1983, compiling a record of 555-295-39.

MacInnes’ first major milestone game would come in 1960, when Michigan Tech upset the U.S. Olympic Team, 5-2, in Houghton. That U.S. team went on to win the Gold Medal in Squaw Valley, Calif. the next month. Later that season, Michigan Tech beat North Dakota 4-3 and 5-4 in the WCHA playoff series held in Houghton to advance to the NCAA Frozen Four in Boston. Michigan Tech beat St. Lawrence 13-3 in NCAA semifinal game behind hat tricks from Gerry Fabbro and Lou Angotti. Michigan Tech also set an NCAA record, netting five goals in a span of 2:51 in that game. That record still stands today, but that would be the end of the joy that season, as the Huskies lost to Murray Armstrong’s Denver Pioneers, 5-3, in NCAA final at the Boston Arena (left).

The next season, Tech got a little bit of revenge on the Pioneers, when on December 12, 1960 Tech beat Denver 3-2 in Houghton on a Jerry Sullivan goal, overcoming a 2-0 first period deficit to hand the Pioneers their only defeat in DU’s magical 30-1-1 season, a Denver season that is regarded by many as one of the finest seasons in college hockey history.

1961-62 was a season for the ages at MTU as the Huskies went 29-3, with all three losses to Michigan. Michigan Tech was red hot down the stretch and did not lose a game after Jan 6, running off 12 straight before beating Minnesota 3-2 in overtime to record its first-ever first-place finish in the WCHA, and winning the school’s first ever MacNaughton Cup. Later, Michigan Tech stuffed Michigan and Michigan State in the WCHA playoffs, earning a trip to the NCAA Frozen Four in Utica, N.Y. where they obliterated St. Lawrence (6-1) and Clarkson (7-1) to claim the team’s 20th straight win and the 1962 NCAA Championship.

In 1964-65, the Huskies put together another magical year (24-5-2), defeating North Dakota 6-4 in Grand Forks to win the school’s second WCHA Championship and the MacNaughton Cup, a memory that is captured in the famous photo of legendary Hall of Fame goalie Tony Esposito (left) holding the Cup. "We had a tremendous hockey team at that time," recalled Esposito. "We were generally rated number one in the nation by most of the coaches and polls during the period (fellow MTU goalie) Rick (Best) and I played on the team." And it was a true rotation. During the 1965 playoff run, each goaltender took a turn versus Minnesota in the first round of the WCHA playoffs (Best with an 8-4 victory and Esposito a 3-3 tie), and Esposito was in net for the 6-4 championship over North Dakota. Advancing to the NCAA semifinals in Providence, R.I. , Best forged a 4-0 victory over Brown University, the first shutout by a goaltender in the first 18 years of NCAA playoff hockey. Esposito then anchored the Huskies in the championship game, an 8-2 blowout of Boston College to win the 1965 NCAA title. He would grow to be a famous goalie with the Chicago Black Hawks, and is likely the most famous name to ever be associated with MTU.

Another MTU WCHA title followed in 1966 (23-6-1), but the Huskies were unable to make the NCAAs as a result of a WCHA playoff loss to Michigan State.

In 1969, Michigan Tech won the WCHA at 21-9-2 overall and won the WCHA playoff games over Michigan State and Michigan, making the Frozen Four again in Colorado Springs, and losing to Cornell 4-3 in overtime in the NCAA semifinals. MTU’s Al Karlander scored a hat trick against Cornell’s famous goaltender Ken Dryden, who would become an NHL Hall of Famer when his NHL career began with Montreal after the NCAAs. Karlander’s first tally was :07 into the contest - an NCAA record that still stands today. Dryden’s Cornellians then fell to the Denver Pioneers, 4-3 in the NCAA title game, marking Denver’s 5th NCAA title.

In 1970, Tech again made the NCAA tournament after finishing tied for second place in the WCHA, only to lose to Clarkson in the NCAA semis, 4-3 and again to Wisconsin 6-5 in the third place game. And in 1970-71, Tech was excellent again, going 25-6-2 and winning the WCHA regular season title, but falling in the WCHA playoffs to North Dakota, 6-4.

The final MTU game played at Dee Stadium was on January 13, 1972, and their next game was played at the newly constructed $2.8 million, 3,000 seat Student Ice Arena on the Michigan Tech campus, which would later be named for MacInnnes, and is still the home of Huskies’ hockey.

In 1973-74, The Huskies had another WCHA Championship with a 29-9-3 overall record, and once again, found themselves in the NCAA Frozen Four, winning the first game 6-5 over Harvard, and facing league nemesis Minnesota for the NCAA Championship. However, the Gophers beat the Huskies 4-2 in the title game.

The 1975 season (32-10) would be the most recent high water mark of MTU hockey, and marks the last time a Huskies’ team would hold the NCAA trophy aloft. After finishing second in league play, the Huskies dumped Notre Dame and Michigan State in the WCHA playoffs. In the Frozen Four that year in St. Louis, the Huskies beat Boston University 9-5 in the NCAA semifinals, and on March 14, 1975, Michigan Tech got revenge for the 1974 NCAA loss to Minnesota and whipped Herb Brooks’ Minnesota team, 6-1, to claim MTU’s third NCAA Championship Trophy

The Huskies met Minnesota once again in the 1976 NCAA Championship game for the third consecutive year. It is the only time in NCAA history that two schools have met three consecutive years in the NCAA title game, and this time, it was Minnesota that emerged victorious in a title game played at the old DU arena in Denver. The Huskies had won the WCHA that year and advanced to the NCAA final with a double overtime 7-6 win over Brown University.

In 1980, the Huskies beat Denver 5-2 in Denver, Colo., as John MacInnes records his 502nd win to become college hockey’s then all-time winningest coach, and later that summer Michigan Tech announced that due to escalating travel costs, MTU would leave the WCHA to join the CCHA, along with fellow Michigan schools Nortthern Michigan, Michigan State and Michigan. Four years later, MTU rejoined the WCHA and has been there ever since.

In 1981, Michigan Tech completed two-game sweep of Providence in NCAA quarterfinal.

and made their 10th appearance in NCAA championships, where Michigan Tech was downed by Minnesota 7-2 at the Duluth Arena Auditorium in the NCAA semis. The Huskies did rally to finish 3rd by beating Northern Michigan in the consolation game. It would be the last time the Huskies would see the NCAA tournament, as they have not been back since.

On February 22, 1982, John MacInnes announced he was stepping down as head coach of the Huskies for health reasons, and in 1983, he died. The Glory Years of Michigan Tech would come to a grinding halt. No Michigan Tech team has had a winning season since 1983 and no MTU team has finished higher than 4th in the WCHA since then, and there has been no additional post-season hardware in the MTU trophy case, either.

Despite the lack of winning seasons, MTU has had a few wonderful moments to break up the many more recent years of disappointment, including 1994’s WCHA playoff defeat of top-seeded Colorado College (MTU had finished 10th in the regular season), 3-2 in overtime, to win series by a 2-1 count and pull off the biggest first-round playoff upset in WCHA history behind all-American goalie Jamie Ram. The game was the last ever at the historic Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, and cost CC a berth in the NCAA tournament. MTU, under coach Bob Mancini, would go on the WCHA Final Five, where the Huskies beat fellow UP rival Northern Michigan in the play-in game, but fell to Minnesota in the semi-final 6-1, as the magic playoff run expired.

In 1996, MTU had a 7th place finish in the WCHA, but managed another mini-playoff run, beating UMD in the first round, beating St. Cloud 4-3 in the WCHA Final Five play in game, then stunning eventual NCAA runner-up Colorado College 4-3 in the WCHA semi-final, only to run out of gas on day three against Minnesota in the WCHA final, 7-2. The Huskies would not be back to the WCHA Final Five until 2007.

In 2003, Jamie Russell become coach, and the high water mark of Russell’s tenure to date was in 2007, when 6th place MTU, behind the brilliant goaltending of Michael-Lee Teslak turned away all 18 Colorado College shots in a 1-0 victory in game three of a first round WCHA Playoff series. The win sent the Huskies to their first WCHA Final Five since 1996, where Wisconsin defeated MTU, 4-0.

Michigan Tech Traditions Winter Carnival
No Michigan Tech tradition can match Winter Carnival for national fame and overall involvement. The Winter Carnival started in 1922 and is held in February. Classes are suspended for two days and the event has grown to become one of the largest annual winter festivals in the nation. It features a huge, intricate snow statue competition on campus in which students (remember, a lot of MTU students are engineers in-training) construct snow and ice sculptures consistent with an annual theme. Some groups of students complete their work in a single evening, while the more grandiose are one month in the making. Statues must be pristine white and structurally sound; they must be self-supporting with no external scaffolding or hidden beams inside. Hockey also plays a big role at Winter Carnival and MTU usually plays well that weekend in front of rabid crowds, and a Winter Carnival King and Queen are crowned amid a variety of other winter activities.

As the school mascot is the husky (specifically, Blizzard T. Husky), the school's sports teams are known as the "Huskies". While the nickname is far older, the live mascot, Blizzard, was christened via a campus-wide competition on January 31, 1997. The "T" in his name stands for "The." He is often seen skating in the hockey arena before and during home games and participating in various other activities.

School songs
The most famous MTU musical tradition started in the late 1940s, when the MTU band, famous for wearing striped mining overalls, begin playing the "Blue Skirt Waltz" (then a popular polka tune) at home ice hockey games between the second and third periods. During the song, the fans linked arms and swung back and forth to the music. The tradition stuck. For the last 60 years since then, the ritual is repeated every game, and has become known as “The Copper Country Anthem”. It is truly one of the great traditions in all of college hockey, and should be experienced by all fans of the game.

Michigan Tech also has an official fight song:
We'll fight, Tech, fight Engineers, For banners bright, Engineers. The northern hills will sound our cry. We'll ring your praises to the sky. Then fight, Tech, fight Engineers, For right with might, Engineers. We'll win the game, the glorious name, Of the Michigan, Michigan, Michigan Engineers.

Copper Country Anthem (Blue Skirt Waltz)
I dream of that night with you, Lady when first we met, We danced in a world of blue, How can my heart forget. Blue were the skies, And blue were your eyes, Just like the blue skirt you wore. Come back, blue lady, come back. Don't be blue any more.
Famous Michigan Tech Alumni
* Lou Angotti. Former NHL player
* Joe Berger, NFL Player - Dallas Cowboys
* Melvin Calvin, Nobel Laureate and discoverer of the Calvin Cycle
* Chris Conner, NHL Player - Dallas Stars
* Tony Esposito, former NHL Player and Hall of Famer- Chicago Blackhawks
* David House, former Vice President of Intel
* Randy McKay, former NHL Player - Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, Dallas Stars, and the New Jersey Devils when they won two Stanley Cups.
* Damian Rhodes, NHL Player - Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Atlanta Thrashers
* Donald G. Saari, prominent game theorist
* Matthew Songer, CEO and founder of Pioneer Surgical Technology
* Andy Sutton, NHL Player - Atlanta Thrashers, New York Islanders
* John Vartan, mega-millionaire Pennsylvania businessman, developer, banker, restaurateur, and philanthropist
* Mike Zuke, former NHL Hockey player

About Houghton, Michigan
Houghton is the largest city in the Copper Country on the Keweenaw Peninsula. As of the 2000 census, the city population was 7,010. It is the county seat of Houghton County. Due to its location in the northwestern portion of the Upper Peninsula, Houghton is isolated from the state of Michigan’s most populous areas. It is farther to travel from Houghton to Detroit than it is from Detroit to Washington, DC, or Louisville, Kentucky.

Houghton was named after Houghton County, which was named after copper pioneer Douglass Houghton. Despite the common belief that Douglass Houghton was the discoverer of copper in the area, Native Americans had mined copper in and around what would later be Houghton thousands of years before European settlement. "French explorers had noted... [its] existence [in the area] as early as the seventeenth century, [and in] 1772 Alexander Henry had prospected for copper on the Ontonagon River near Victoria. When Horace Greeley said, "Go West, young man" he was referring to the copper rush in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula.

Many Cornish (Welsh) and Finnish immigrants arrived in the Houghton area to work in the copper mines - both groups have had a great influence on the culture and cuisine of the local area. For example, “Pasties” (Cornish meat pies eaten by miners) are still sold in town as a local delicacy.

The last nearby mines closed in the late 1960s, but MTU is still the largest employer in the area. The first known European settler of Houghton was named Ransom Sheldon, who set up a store named Ransom's near Portage Lake, though it is unclear whether this was in the same building as the 1852 Shelden and Shafer drugs, sometimes described as "the first commercial building constructed in Houghton.

In 1854, Ernest F. Pletschke plotted Houghton, which was incorporated as a village by Sheldon, C[hristopher] C[olumbus] Douglass and Capt. Richard Edwards three years later. In Houghton's first days it was said that "only thieves, crooks, murderers and Indians" lived there. The postwar boom and increasing demand for copper wiring fueled the development of Houghton in the 1860s and 1870s.

By 1880 Houghton had become "a burgeoning city and in 1883, the railroad was extended from Marquette, Michigan.

The Portage Lift Bridge crosses Portage Lake, connecting Hancock and Houghton, Michigan, by crossing over Portage Lake, which is part of the river and canal system that crosses the entire peninsula. The Portage Lift Bridge is the worlds heaviest and widest double-decked vertical lift bridge. Its center span "lifts" to provide 100 feet of clearance for ships. Since rail traffic was discontinued in the Keweenaw, the lower deck is used to accommodate snowmobile traffic in the winter. This is the only land based link between the north and south section of the Keweenaw peninsula, and is crucial.

Houghton typically has long and snowy winters (due to lake-effect snow, with an average of 208 inches each year) It is sometimes said that Houghton has "two seasons: winter's here and winter's coming.” While Houghton's winters may be the subject of humor, residents take the subject of snow and winter very seriously. Houghton not only accommodates winter, but celebrates it, and whose residents generally enjoy the season by participating in a variety of outdoor activities. Among those activities are cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, ice fishing, snowmobiling, ice skating and outdoor hockey, among other activities.
Since Houghton and Hancock, Michigan are very near each other, their combined area is often referred to as "Houghton-Hancock," though the towns are often fierce rivals, something particularly manifested by the sports rivalry between Houghton High School and Hancock Central.

Tourism is a major industry in Houghton. Summer tourism is very popular, especially among those wishing to tour old mines, visit various historical sites, and camp. Winter tourism is also very active from November through April, for snowmobiling, skiing and other winter sports.
Houghton figures in the novels The Truth About Fire by Elizabeth Hartmann and A Superior Death by Nevada Barr, and the poem "The Idea of Children at Houghton, Michigan" in Gavin Ewart's Penultimate Poems. Much of Ander Monson's Other Electricities takes place in Houghton.

The Series
While DU has struggled at Michigan Tech in recent outings, these teams appear to be going in opposite directions, with Denver playing its best hockey of the season, and Michigan Tech at its lowest point in the season so far. It would appear that the Pioneers are in excellent position for a road sweep, but in the WCHA, the expected often doesn’t happen.

DU has outscored its opponents, 14-2, during its current three-game winning streak, but the Pioneers are 0-3 on the road and 2-3 against unranked opponents. The Pioneers have been outscored, 9-5, on the road this season in losses to Colorado College (3-2) and St. Cloud State (4-2, 2-1) so we will see if DU can turn the corner in a hostile environment. Mark Cheverie has never won a road game, either. With DU averaging 4.67 goals per game in its nine wins so if the Pioneers can get the offense going, Michigan Tech will be in trouble. DU has scored the first goal in the last three games and is 7-1 when scoring first, so an early DU goal is likely a good sign.

On the other side of the coin, DU has only scored 2.0 gpg in its five losses and one tie, so expect MTU to play a defensive style to slow the faster Pioneer attack. Michigan Tech clearly does not have the offensive depth it had in the last few years, and with its goaltenders not yet able to save 90% of the shots they face, expect MTU to try to limit the DU shots on their own goal. Tech is also 21-0-3 when they score three goals or more.

While my head tells me that this series looks like a mismatch on paper, I think Michigan Tech is also overdue for a win. In the WCHA, road sweeps are not easy at all with the quality of teams, and while it would not surprise me to see DU sweep, I think DU has yet to win a road game for a reason – they have a hard time focusing on the road with such a young team.

Prediction: Split. DU wins game 1 on Friday, 4-1 while MTU gets revenge on Saturday, 2-1 (OT).