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Solving Notre Dame goalie Cal Petersen has been no simple task over the last few games.
Petersen hadn’t allowed a goal in two games after the holiday break as Michigan Tech rolled into town this weekend. He let in just one Friday in an Irish victory, but Michigan Tech upped its pressure on Petersen in Saturday’s series finale, reaping the rewards with a 4-2 victory.
“I thought we played harder,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “A little more determined, stronger on the puck. Stronger without it too. That was the biggest thing. (Friday) night, I didn’t like our compete level. We talked about that as coaches and we talked about that with our team. There’s a certain way we need to play. We need to play hard and we need to play strong. I thought we did a better job of that.”
Before taking the lead for good, Tech (14-9-3) first had to erase an early deficit as No. 12 Notre Dame opened the scoring.
Bobby Nardella scored his fifth of the season at 11:56 of the first period to give the Irish their second 1-0 lead in as many nights. Petersen proved up to the task with 12 saves in the first 20 minutes to keep Michigan Tech off the board.
Tech kept the pressure up in the second, peppering Petersen with 12 more shots as a couple of them found the back of the net.
“That’s why I wasn’t alarmed after the first period,” Pearson said. “I thought we were skating much better and at least handling the puck better. That was another big thing (Friday) night, I thought we didn’t handle the puck very well. We really fought the puck. Our forwards hadn’t scored the two previous games so they’ve been pressing a little bit even though we had been playing pretty well over the course of the year.”
Those forwards got it back shortly after the second period started.
Jake Jackson drew the Huskies level at 2:04 with his fifth goal of the season. Gavin Gould followed with one of his own for a 2-1 lead before seven minutes had come and gone.
Cam Morrison scored for Notre Dame (12-7-2) almost three minutes later in a rare second period bright spot, tying the game at 2-2. Despite that goal, the Huskies carried momentum into intermission and on into the third period.
They allowed Notre Dame just five shots total and none on its only power play of the second period.
“We dropped off after the first period,” Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson said. “I can’t necessarily explain why. I thought that they out-gritted us, especially at both nets. We weren’t getting the chances at their net and they were getting a number of chances in and around our goal. That was the difference in the game for me, just in that Grade A area right in front of the net.”
Tech capitalized on that traffic in front of Petersen to snatch the victory.
Michael Neville gave the Huskies a 3-2 lead at 4:23 of the third. Later in the period, they killed off an Irish power play opportunity and almost immediately after that man advantage ended Alex Smith fired a wrist shot over Petersen’s blocker for a two-goal lead.
Grit translated to a pair of third-period goals, bolstered by 11 saves in the last 20 minutes by goalie Angus Redmond, to seal an important nonconference win.
Tech now dives back into WCHA play with a dose of positivity.
“We get back into league play,” Pearson said. “The other thing is, we’ve only had seven home games this year. We’ve played 19 games away from our building. We’ve had a tough schedule, we’ve played in tough games, and these will make us a better team getting back into our league. Looking forward to that, but a split is huge.”
Northern Michigan 6, Lake Superior State 4
Dominik Shine recorded a hat trick with a goal in each period for Northern Michigan as the Wildcats (5-17-2) built a 6-2 lead en route to victory. Shine started the scoring with his first goal late in the first period. He made it a 2-0 with a short-handed goal in the second and 6-2 in the third with a power-play marker. Anthony Nelllis added three assists. Max Humitz scored two goals for Lake Superior State (9-12-1).
Minnesota State 3, Alabama-Huntsville 2
Minnesota State (13-7-2, 9-5-2 WCHA) raced to a three-goal lead in the first two periods, then held on late for a 3-2 victory over Alabama-Huntsville. Zach Stepan scored a pair of power-play goals, one in each period, to help build that lead. Ian Scheid scored the other, also on the power play, while Michael Huntebrinker notched two assists. Goals from Max McHugh and Hans Gorowsky in the third period pulled Alabama-Huntsville (7-15-1, 7-9-2 WCHA) within a goal, but they couldn’t find the equalizer. Minnesota State goalie Aaron Nelson finished with 29 saves.
Alaska-Anchorage 2, Ferris State 2
Alaska-Anchorage (5-14-3, 4-9-3 WCHA) took five of six points on the weekend Saturday by grabbing an extra point in the shootout after a 2-2 tie with Ferris State. Mason Mitchell gave Anchorage a 1-0 lead in the first period, only to see Ferris State (7-13-3, 6-8-2 WCHA) follow with a pair of goals in the second period to take the lead. Cameron Clarke scored his first of the season then Corey Mackin followed with his eighth. But Jeremiah Luedtke scored a power-play goal for Anchorage in the third to force overtime. Anchorage goalie Olivier Mantha made 26 saves.