WCHA: Gillies leads Michigan Tech to victory over Minnesota State

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On Friday night, the Michigan Tech Huskies got two goals and three points from winger Tyler Heinonen to earn a 4-4 tie with the No. 20 Minnesota State Mavericks. Saturday, they turned to another winger in Alex Gillies.

Gillies struck twice as the Huskies earned a key WCHA victory over the Mavericks, 4-0, ending a three-game winless streak.

Gillies, who had not scored since Dec. 9 against Bowling Green, had his first multi-goal game of his career. He felt the shutout was more important than his offensive effort, however.

“It’s good, obviously,” said Gillies. “We focus on our defense first. It’s nice to chip in offensively when you can, but I think the biggest thing was keeping them scoreless throughout the whole game.”

After a scoreless first period that saw the Mavericks dictate play for the first 10 minutes and the Huskies control much of the second half, Michigan Tech came out strong in the second, leading to Gillies’ first tally on a power play at 6:11.

Winger Gavin Gould picked up a clearing attempt by the Mavericks at center ice, turned and drove hard back into the offensive zone. When he ran out of room near the net, he fed the puck back out front where Gillies was waiting for it.

The Huskies struck again just 1:37 later when defenseman Mitch Reinke wired a shot through a screen that Mavericks goaltender Aaron Nelson never saw.

“If you get hemmed in your zone, you are playing with fire against them,” said Mavericks coach Mike Hastings. “When they do forecheck, if you don’t get clean exits, they are in some pretty good spots.”

Looking for some insurance early in the third, the Huskies got it when Gillies found the net for the second time at 4:57. Winger Thomas Beretta got the puck to Gillies along the right boards in the offensive zone. Smith waited for the play to develop before feeding the puck across the rink to Gillies as he entered the left circle. Looking up, Gillies placed the puck in the one open corner Nelson left, over his glove.

“I was just trying to get it toward the net,” said Gillies. “I saw a little room there and went for it.”

Huskies coach Mel Pearson was especially pleased with the patience Gillies showed on his second goal. Against Alaska-Anchorage last Saturday, Gillies had a quality scoring chance on a odd-man rush, but he forced his shot quickly and missed the net entirely.

“We need that one last weekend against Anchorage,” said Pearson. “It was a similar chance, but he missed the net. Tonight I think he had a little more confidence.”

Winger Chris Gerrie added his third goal in three games to seal the victory with an empty-net tally at 16:48.

The Huskies peppered Nelson for 31 shots against in the contest. His counterpart, Angus Redmond, made just 22 saves in earning the win.

WCHA roundup

Bowling Green 2, Alaska 1
Looking for a bounce-back performance, the Falcons got it Saturday night as they had to fight from behind with a third-period goal from Kevin Dufour to even things on a power play and force overtime. In the extra session, Brett D’Andrea found the back of the net to give the Falcons the win. Josh Erickson struck for Alaska in the second period.

Northern Michigan 4, Alaska-Anchorage 0
Four different Wildcats scored as Northern Michigan completed a sweep of the Seawolves. Gerard Hanson, Shane Sooth, Robbie Payne and Troy Loggins all found the back of the net, with Sooth’s as the lone power-play marker. Atte Tolvanen stopped 34 shots to earn the shutout.

Lake Superior 4, Alabama-Huntsville 1
The Lakers struck twice in the third period to turn a one-goal lead into a three-goal victory. Four different Lakers scored in the contest. Collin Saccoman scored in the first. Gage Torrel picked up a goal in the second. James Roll and Max Humitz scored 3:36 apart in the third to seal the win. Brandon Salerno scored for the Chargers.

No. 18 Bemidji State 5, Ferris State 1
Looking to keep their 10-point cushion on Michigan Tech, the Beavers had five different players find the net to earn a split with the Bulldogs. Myle and Gerry Fitzgerald scored in the first and second period, respectively, with Kyle Bauman, Phillip Marinaccio, and Justin Baudry all adding goals as well. Chad McDonald scored the lone Bulldogs goal in the loss.

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