Looking for a key sweep at home during Winter Carnival weekend, the No. 15 Michigan Tech Huskies were awarded three major power plays. Though unable to cash in on any of them, they did manage to get three goals en route to a 3-1 win over the visiting Lake Superior State Lakers Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The turning point in the game was when the Huskies broke through late in the first period. Skating down the left boards while shorthanded, center C.J. Eick fired a wrist shot that beat Nick Kosoff over the left shoulder at 18:05. The goal was reminiscent of the goal Max Vallis had scored on Friday night.
“[Chris] Leibinger made a great play,” said Eick. “He just made a touch on the penalty kill. He found me. I was just driving the net. I think the goalie thought I was going to pass it over to [Dylan] Steman, or shoot low for a pad pass. He gave me short side.”
“[I am] really proud of our players tonight,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “The most important thing is we got the points out of it. … I am really proud of this team. It seems every week we have a different guy stepping up for us.”
The Huskies (16-7-5 overall, 13-6-3 WCHA) broke the scoreless tie while assistant captain Mike Neville was in the penalty box for checking from behind.
“We knew coming in here, it’s a great opponent and a great environment, and we wanted to measure up and we fell short of it,” said Lakers coach Damon Whitten. “You are disappointed in that. With the amount of time we spent on the penalty kill and the lack of discipline, it doesn’t give you much of a chance. That’s disappointing.”
The Huskies extended their lead on a broken play just 1:53 into the second period. Winger Reid Sturos attempted a slap shot, only to have his stick break mid-shot. The result was a shot that bounced harmlessly to Kosoff, but might have caught him off-guard. The puck rebounded off of the Lakers’ goalie and right to a waiting Vallis, who got his third goal of the weekend. Vallis won the Most Valuable Player award for the weekend.
The Huskies’ line of Brent Baltus, center Jake Lucchini, and winger Alex Gillies continued their strong play and were rewarded for a very strong shift with a goal at 6:00. As Baltus got the puck to Kosoff’s left, Gillies crashed the net. Gillies was shoved by a Lakers’ defender into Kosoff, and Baltus fired a shot that hit the post and hit Gillies, kicking back out front to Lucchini, who put the puck into the open goal.
The Lakers opened the third period well and were nearly rewarded for their efforts when Diego Cuglietta skated in with Gage Torrel on a two-on-one. Cuglietta fed the puck to Torrel, whose one-timer was stopped by Jamie Phillips. The puck then kicked out to Aidan Wright, who fired a shot as Phillips was recovering, but the Huskies netminder was able to get there to make the stop on the shot from the right point area.
The Lakers were awarded a penalty shot with 55.1 seconds left as it was determined that a Huskies defender knocked the net off intentionally. Torrel took the shot for the Lakers, and he beat Phillips with a shot up over the glove and under the crossbar, ending the shutout bid.