HOUGHTON, Mich. — It’s not a win, but they’ll certainly take it.
Michigan Tech battled 11th-ranked Colorado College to a 2-2 tie before an energetic crowd of 3,301 at MacInnes Arena on Friday night.
The game was a classic WCHA display of speed, physical play, acrobatic saves, and big momentum shifts.
The Huskies nearly won the game on the first rush of overtime as a streaking Paul Cabana deflected Jaron Doetzel’s centering pass just wide of the net as he was being tied up.
“I thought we played pretty well in spite of not winning,” said Michigan Tech head coach Mike Sertich. “Colorado College is a very good hockey team across the ice and they had a lot to do with what was going on out there. We got a point because we played pretty well all the way through. We didn’t have a real letdown.”
Freshman goaltender Cam Ellsworth, making his second straight start for the Huskies, played an outstanding game with 46 saves.
“I saw everything really well tonight and the guys did a good job of clearing the rebounds and letting me see the pucks,” said Ellsworth, who now has a win and two ties in three starts. “I just tried to stay square and get in front of them.”
Ellsworth’s 46 stops were the most by a Tech goaltender since David Weninger made 49 saves in 1998.
Despite having a defensive corps that included three freshmen and two sophomores, the Huskies did a good job of containing the explosive Tigers and eliminating second chances.
“They’ve got more speed than we do but we played pretty well positionally in our defensive zone,” said Sertich. “It isn’t all about putting guys on the glass. It’s about containment, and positioning is more important than anything. It takes a big heart to play defense.”
With Colorado College leading 1-0 in the opening period, the Huskies evened things up on Brett Engelhardt’s third goal of the season at the 10:20 mark.
Engelhardt chipped a cross-ice pass by Colin Murphy past CC defenseman James Laux at the blue line, skated in alone and beat goaltender Jeff Sanger with a low shot to the far side.
Tech grabbed a 2-1 lead a mere six seconds into the second period on a power-play goal by Doetzel.
After Jon Pittis won the faceoff, a shot by Bryan Perez from the neutral zone hit the leg of a CC player and bounced right to Doetzel, who came through the left circle and fired a shot inside the far post.
The goal was MTU’s first with the man advantage in its last 30 chances, a drought spanning six games.
Colorado College tied the game when Hobey Baker candidate Mark Cullen scored a shorthanded goal at 15:12 of the middle period. The Huskies had all the momentum after the Tigers chased them around in the CC zone for nearly a minute, finally taking a slashing penalty.
But Cullen showed exactly why he’s one of the nation’s top talents as he quieted the crowd with a clutch goal. He skated up the right side and had Clarke down the middle on a 2-on-1. But the Tigers’ captain waited until the lone defenseman went down to take away the pass, then zipped a bullet of a wrist shot over Ellsworth’s shoulder into the top of the net.
“I was looking to [Clarke] for the pass first but then the defenseman went down, and I just felt I should shoot it,” said Cullen, who now has 21 points on the season. “The goalie went down right away and I put it upstairs.”
But Ellsworth, who made 15 saves in the third period, shut the door the rest of the way as the Huskies (4-7-2, 1-6-2 WCHA) picked up their fourth league point. Sanger made 23 saves for the Tigers (7-5-1, 3-5-1).
“I’m sure Coach will make some adjustments,” said Cullen, referring to CC headman Scott Owens. “I don’t think he’s very happy with the way we played tonight. We’re just looking for a better 60 minutes tomorrow and a better effort all around.”