HOUGHTON, Mich. — The drought was bound to end sooner or later. And when it finally did, lightning struck twice.
Sophomore defenseman Justin Brown scored twice during a five-minute power play, ending Michigan Tech’s futile 0-for-41 drought as the Huskies beat Minnesota-Duluth, 5-3, on Saturday night at MacInnes Arena. Oddly enough, Brown was the victim of the hit from behind by UMD’s Tom Nelson that resulted in the lengthy man-advantage.
“I stopped the puck and he ran me,” said Brown of the penalty. “It was unlucky on their part. He didn’t hit me that hard but a hit from behind is a hit from behind.”
Meanwhile, sophomore Brett Engelhardt capped the best scoring weekend a Tech player has enjoyed all season. After a goal and two assists in Friday night’s 4-1 win, Engelhardt scored twice and had two more assists last night, giving him seven points on the weekend and a team-leading 22 on the season.
“Hard work pays dividends,” said Michigan Tech head coach Mike Sertich, “and hard work is pretty characteristic of Brett Engelhardt. He keeps his game simple. He’s a power forward and he plays like it. And when he needs a big play, he makes it.”
With the series sweep, the Huskies improved to 7-15-2 overall and 3-11-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. In addition, Sertich ran his record against the team he spent 18 years coaching to 4-1-1. Tech, which improved to 5-4-2 at home this season, picked up its first weekend sweep of a league opponent since early in 1999.
“It was a good weekend all around,” said Engelhardt. “I got some points mostly just because of the hard work of my linemates.”
Perhaps the most exciting moment of the game was Engelhardt’s dramatic empty-netter with six seconds left in the game. Moments before the goal, Engelhardt had missed the gaping net from the neutral zone and then clanked one of the side of the goal from the right circle. It appeared like he was headed to the bench without the goal, but the Huskies called a timeout and Engelhardt was right back out there. And this time, as the crowd collectively held its breath, he didn’t miss.
“I had three chances, which is more than most people ever get,” said Engelhardt. “Luckily, I finally got one.”
UMD took a 1-0 lead at 10:38 of the opening period. Judd Medak won the faceoff to Junior Lessard, who sent the puck to Smith out at the point. Smith wound up and beat Michigan Tech goaltender Cam Ellsworth with a slapshot.
The Huskies evened the score at 12:53. While being dragged down, Jon Pittis managed to swipe the rebound from Colin Murphy’s shot through UMD goaltender Adam Coole’s legs.
Tech took the lead at 3:41 of the second period on Engelhardt’s first goal of the night. Engelhardt intercepted a clearing pass at the blue line and then put a shot over Coole’s glove from the middle of the right circle.
“I had a couple seconds to let it go,” said Engelhardt. “It really helped me to look where I was going to shoot. Luckily the goalie was moving just a bit, and I got it above his glove.”
UMD made it a 2-2 tie at 11:50 when Lessard buried a rebound for a power-play goal.
Then came the five-minute man-advantage.
Brown made it 3-2 at 5:38 of the third period when his shot from the point hit a UMD player’s stick on its way past Coole. Engelhardt and Paul Cabana picked up assists.
Just 43 seconds later, Brown scored when he went back-door and banged in a rebound.
“Perez rotated up top so I slid down,” said Brown. “He put it on net and Coole saved it. But he kind of whacked it around a bit and I was on the back side of the play and buried it.”
Drew Otten pulled the Bulldogs back to within one when he scored at 14:46.
Ellsworth made 32 saves for his second straight win. Coole stopped 20 shots for UMD (8-17-1, 1-14-1).