The only real connection to Michigan Tech that most Western New York sports fans have is John Scott. The former Buffalo Sabre played his college hockey for Michigan Tech and, well, knowledge pretty much ends there.
But the Huskies have a rich history on the Upper Peninsula as explored in a recent article in The New York Times.
Michigan Tech has a 95-year hockey tradition and three national titles but has only been above .500 once since 1993. Enter this season when the Huskies started out 10-0. They are 13-3-0 and ranked fifth in the latest USCHO.com poll.
In the story, fourth-year head coach Mel Pearson explains the atmosphere:
“Everywhere you go, Walmart, McDonald’s, the local hardware store, the bars, someone’s always talking about Michigan Tech hockey, whether it’s good or bad,” Pearson said. “I learned a long time ago I just need to say thank you. But you want that — you want people to care.”
Check out the Times piece along with a beautiful photo gallery.
But perhaps the best anecdote comes not from talk about the college team, but how hockey is intertwined into life for the people of Houghton, Mich.
The story quotes Bob Makolin, an 85-year old who still skates but quit playing hockey at age 75 because they required him to wear a helmet:
“They wouldn’t let me play in the league unless I got a helmet, but I didn’t want to wear one,” he said. “Besides, it cost $100. So I quit.”