Thursday, November 1, 2007

Scouting No. 3 North Dakota

I'm sure I'm not the only one who balked last Friday when Michigan Tech downed North Dakota 3-1. I remember thinking, "How did they do that?"

Well, besides the intangibles the Huskies brought to the table (read Jess Myers' story about Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell's hellish week) Michigan Tech got great goaltending from Michael-Lee Teslak, stayed out of the penalty box and was opportunistic.

When I asked coach Scott Owens what the Tigers can take from the Huskies' triumph, the first words out of his mouth were, "We need to get good goaltending." No decisions had been made by the close of Wednesday's practice, but I would imagine Richard Bachman will get a chance to battle Jean-Philippe Lamoureux. Bachman is ranked 14th in goals against average and 10th in save percentage, making him the top freshman goaltender in the country.

Now for my three things to keep in mind:

1. Speaking of Lamoureux... Lambasted last season for being a slow-starting goalie, Lamoureux has silenced his critics with four shutouts in five games and only two goals allowed in the loss to Michigan Tech. That gives the junior, who made headlines for reclaiming his hyphenated first name at the beginning of the season, an impressive .983 save percentage and 0.43 goals against average.

2. D-corps exam So far, I'd give the Tigers' defensemen an A-/B+ (A for Minnesota, B for New Hampshire). For the most part, CC's defensemen did an admirable job keeping Minnesota and New Hampshire's top threats off the board -- although they could have done a better job with the Wildcats' second line. How will they handle this week's offensive threats? Scan these names: T. J. Oshie, Ryan Duncan, Taylor Chorney. Most likely, these three juniors will be challenging for NHL roster spots 11 months from now. The Sioux's depth should give CC a nice defensive gut-check heading into five home games.

3. Where's that veteran offense? As you can read tomorrow on Tiger Den, the Tigers need to take the puck to the paint (to borrow a term from basketball) in order to generate some legitimate five-on-five scoring chances, as they struggled to do last weekend at New Hampshire.

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