The No. 13 Michigan Tech Huskies twice scored goals less than a minute apart and rode those four goals to a win Saturday night over the Alaska Nanooks, 5-3, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The Huskies won the best-of-three series, 2-0.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game tonight,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “You have to give them credit, they hung in there. They pushed us right to the brink. We found a way to win.”
The Nanooks started stronger than they had on Friday, getting a pair of shots early. They also took the early lead, but a pair of goals from the Huskies less than a minute apart changed the nature of the game.
Co-captain Alex Petan got the Huskies on the board at 12:09 of the first period when he picked up a loose puck along the right boards. He cut through the slot, firing a backhand shot. The first shot was stopped, but his rebound was not.
The Huskies scored again just 31 seconds later when junior Reid Sturos blasted a shot home past Davis Jones.
“I think what kind of caught us with this team is that they can score in bunches,” said Nanooks coach Dallas Ferguson. “They have an ability to do that, they kind of grab on to momentum. That is not the way you draw it up. I was proud of the way our team got back into the game. They kind of left it all out on the ice.”
The Huskies (23-8-5 overall) had the game’s first good scoring chance, however, when freshman Jake Lucchini took a pass at center ice from sophomore Alex Gillies, skated deep into the offensive zone, and dropped a pass for sophomore Matt Roy, whose shot was kicked away.
The Nanooks got the puck back down the ice and struck shortly after the Huskies’ chance. Brandon Morley drove around a Huskies defender and fired a backhand that Huskies senior Jamie Phillips stopped. The rebound kicked back out front slowly, and Chad Staley jumped on it and knocked the puck in the net at 2:27.
Ferguson called a time out to try to calm his troops after the Huskies’ second tally.
The Nanooks (10-22-4 overall) struggled to sustain any time in the offensive zone, but when they did with about 6:45 left in the period, they had a shot from Justin Woods at the right point. Just 15 seconds later, the Huskies had a great chance when sophomore Joel L’Esperance and senior Malcolm Gould skated in on a 2-on-1. L’Esperance fed Gould for a one-timer which Jones hung on to.
The Huskies struck for the third time just 3:48 into the second period while on the man advantage. Sophomore Mark Auk took a pass at the right point. Rather than shoot, he fed the puck down to junior Brent Baltus. Baltus fired a shot that kicked back to him. His second shot got up and over Jones, falling just in front of the goal line. Gillis crashed the net and knocked the puck home.
Less than a minute later, the Huskies struck again. Auk had the puck at the left point. He skated into the slot and fired a shot with senior C.J. Eick and Vallis looking for tips on the shot. Jones made the save and while Eick fought for the loose puck, L’Esperance snuck in, grabbed the puck, and stuffed it in the net at 4:39.
The Nanooks had a power play shortly after the Huskies’ last chance and capitalized when captain Tyler Morley took a pass in the slot from Josh Atkinson and he made a quick move to his backhand to beat Phillips at 11:46.
The Nanooks struck again on another power play at 17:23. Marcus Basara took a pass in the left circle from Atkinson. He wound up and fired a hard shot with Nolan Huysmans creating traffic in front of Phillips. Basara’s shot snuck through Phillips for the goal.
Ferguson pulled Jones with 43.4 seconds left in regulation and a faceoff in the offensive zone. The decision backfired as the Huskies won the draw. Gould knocked the puck around a Nanooks’ defender, beat another to the puck after, and pushed the puck into the empty net at 19:25.