HOUGHTON, Mich. — In a battle of the two hottest goaltenders in the NCAA, Michigan Tech Huskies freshman Angus Redmond did everything he could but singlehandedly earn a win as the Huskies fell to the WCHA-leading No. 13 Bemidji State Beavers Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
Despite giving up a goal 11:36 in, Redmond’s counterpart for the Beavers, Michael Bitzer was nearly perfect in making 26 saves to earn the 3-1 victory.
Beavers coach Tom Serratore was quick to praise the efforts of his junior netminder.
“When you know you have a guy like Mike Bitzer in the nets right there, guys can play a little bit,” said Serratore. “They know they have someone there who is supporting them. He’s been one of the best goaltenders in the country in the first half.”
Having come into the game tied with Redmond with a goals against average of 1.46, Bitzer was called upon to make 26 saves in the game to preserve the victory. None may have been bigger than the one he made on Huskies’ senior winger Tyler Heinonen with about 30 seconds left in the contest when he fired a rebound back at Bitzer from the high slot.
Serratore likes the way Bitzer is unfazed by much of the game as a whole.
“He’s very calm in the net,” said Serratore. “He’s a confident goaltender and he made some big saves tonight.”
On the other end of the rink, the current WCHA Defensive Player of the Week and the Rookie of the Month did everything he could to keep Bitzer from earning the win, making 22 saves in the loss.
“It’s always fun to play in those lows-scoring [games] where if you make a mistake, it can cost the game,” said Redmond. “It was good just to compete and get back into it.”
The Huskies jumped out to the early lead on a goal by assistant captain Mike Neville, but Leo Fitzgerald answered right back for the Beavers less than a minute later.
Redmond felt that despite surrendering the goal, the team played well in front of him.
“I think it was a nice play,” said Redmond. “It was unfortunate that we gave it right back up. I think we bounced back right after that.”
Despite playing better, the Huskies could not find a second goal. Instead, it was the Beavers who did, short-handed on a goal from Kyle Bauman, and that was enough to seal the game.
“You could see there was not a lot of difference between the two teams,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “It’s a fine line. They happened to get the break on the shorthanded goal on the blue line and they made a play. That’s what it comes down to.”
Pearson was happy with the way his young goaltender handled everything the Beavers threw his way.
“He had to battle tonight,” said Pearson. “There weren’t a lot of shots, but a lot of timely shots and some good saves. A lot of action around our crease at certain times, and I thought he did a really nice job.”
Pearson also acknowledged the efforts of Bitzer as well.
“I thought he was a factor in the game, no doubt about it,” said Pearson. “He made some real good saves in the second period and some in the first.”
Lake Superior 4, Bowling Green 2
Sean Walker got the Falcons on the board late in the first period, but the host Lakers put up three straight goals to take the lead for good in an 11-minute span of the third period. Luke Morgan, Anthony Nellis and Max Humitz all struck for the Lakers before Diego Cuglietta sealed the win with an empty net tally with 46 seconds left in regulation.
No. 15 Minnesota State 7, Alaska 3
The Mavericks struck three times in the opening 20 minutes and then added three more in the third to come away with a win at home over the Nanooks. Daniel Brickley and Zeb Knutson each scored first-period goals before Marc Michaelis scored the next three Mavericks’ tallies to pick up the hat trick. Clint Lewis and Nicholas Rivera also found the net for the hosts. James LaDouce and Ross Heidt scored for the Nanooks.
Alaska-Anchorage 5, Northern Michigan 3
Jonah Renouf and Jarrett Brown scored second-period goals for the Seawolves to overcome a one-goal deficit, and Olivier Mantha made 23 saves for the victory. Matt Anholt, Chase Van Allen and Connor Wright extended the Alaska-Anchorage lead in the third period.