Winter Carnival is the one weekend out of the college hockey season where the Michigan Tech Huskies tap into the ghosts that haunt the MacInnes Student Ice Arena and emerge victorious, even during seasons when nothing else seems to be going right.
Apparently, nobody told Ferris State Bulldogs goaltender Justin Kapelmaster on Friday.
The Bulldogs’ freshman tapped into a little of that Winter Carnival magic to make 39 saves and steal a 3-2 victory for the visitors.
“The Huskies had multiple opportunities, but he was a difference-maker tonight,” said Bulldogs assistant coach Mark Kaufman. “He’s been coming on since the middle portion of the season.”
Kapelmaster was tested early and often by the Huskies, who outshot the Bulldogs, 14-6, in the opening frame alone. Huskies’ winger Joel L’Esperance had three of those chances himself, with two coming on the same shift from almost the same spot and then a third one on a two-on-none break.
The Bulldogs’ youngster was tested by Huskies winger Jake Jackson, who had driven around a Bulldogs’ defender and in alone, but again he was there to make the stop. Kapelmaster continued to blank the Huskies when assistant captain Reid Sturos had a breakaway short-handed and fired a low wrist shot.
“He’s really holding up his end of the bargain,” said Kaufman of Kapelmaster. “He had a lot of one-time looks, and maybe only a few second or third opportunities.”
In the meantime, the Bulldogs took advantage of the chances they had and struck 2:19 into the contest when captain Jared VanWormer took a pass off the back boards and fed the puck over to Corey Mackin for a goal.
VanWormer then got one of his own at 17:51 of the opening frame when he tipped a pass from Gerald Mayhew home past Angus Redmond.
“We are having trouble scoring,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “[For] the other team, the goals are going in easy. It is just complete opposites. Teams are cashing in on their opportunities.”
Kapelmaster was finally beaten by Huskies center Alex Smith on a power play 1:03 into the second, but then went right back to frustrating the Huskies at every turn.
Defenseman Chris Leibinger fired a shot from the point that rebounded to center Jake Lucchini, but Kapelmaster stopped both chances. Less than 30 seconds later, he was tested again when assistant captain Michael Neville had a shot from the slot after stealing a pass.
After killing off a five-on-three power play for the Huskies, the Bulldogs made life easier for their netminder when Tyler Andrew knocked a rebound past Huskies’ goaltender Angus Redmond at 18:09.
The Huskies had another 16 shots in the third period, but only a shot from defenseman Mark Auk found its way past Kapelmaster.
Pearson pulled Redmond with 1:04 left in the contest, but Sturos’ two chances from just outside the crease were both stopped by Kapelmaster.
Bemidji State 3, at Alabama-Huntsville 2
Leading 1-0 after a goal from Nate Arentz, the Beavers got two quick goals from Gerry Fitzgerald and Jay Dickman to take a 3-0 lead. The Chargers got two of those goals back in less than a minute when Brennan Saulnier and Brent Fletcher scored 38 seconds apart. However, they could not find a third before the final buzzer.
Alaska-Anchorage 3, at Lake Superior 2
Mason Mitchell scored twice and Olivier Mantha made 27 saves to help lift the Seawolves over the Lakers. Tanner Johnson answered two straight goals by the Lakers to even the game heading into the third period. Anthony Nellis struck twice for the Lakers in the loss.
Northern Michigan 3, Alaska 0
The Wildcats got a goal in each frame to top the Alaska and win their fifth in a row. Demico Hannoun struck in the first and Robbie Payne added one in the second and another in the third to put the game out of reach. Atte Tolvanen made 39 saves in the victory.