DULUTH, Minn. — The week couldn’t have been going any better for the Sertich family — five hockey wins in five games through Friday night.
Yet, Minnesota-Duluth obliterated that streak with a 6-3 victory over Michigan Tech and coach Mike Sertich on Saturday night before 4,532 at the DECC.
UMD (18-13-5) finished the regular season in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association at 14-9-4, good for fifth place. It was Bulldogs’ first top-five finish since 1998 and puts them at home for a best-of-3 league playoff series starting Friday against St. Cloud State. Ninth-place Michigan Tech will be on the road against Minnesota.
Michigan Tech (10-22-4, 7-18-3 WCHA) led 1-0, then saw UMD get six of the next eight goals — including two each from linemates T.J. Caig and Nick Anderson. Senior goalie Rob Anderson earned his fourth straight win with 27 saves as UMD outshot Michigan Tech 44-30.
Earlier this week, Roseville Area High School, coached by Mike Sertich’s brother Steve, won two Class AA games to reach the state championship game before losing to Anoka on Saturday night in St. Paul. Freshman forward Marty Sertich, Steve’s son, played in two WCHA victories for No. 1-ranked Colorado College over Denver on Thursday and Friday.
Michigan Tech picked up where it left off in Friday’s 6-3 win with a goal late in the first period. Five-foot-five center Jon Pittis finished a 3-on-1 rush from the slot with 4:28 left for a 1-0 lead.
Less than two minutes later UMD tied the game on a solo effort by Caig. He got a pass from goalie Rob Anderson at neutral ice, pushed ahead on left wing, made a move around a defender and boomed a shot from high in the slot.
Huskies goalie Cam Ellsworth, who had 45 saves in Friday’s 6-3 win, stopped UMD winger Nick Anderson twice in the opening period, included a tough shorthanded attempt with 10 seconds left. Anderson had to be stopped again 6:20 into the second period.
UMD goalie Anderson, one of four seniors playing on Senior Night, turned away winger Chris Conner at the crease at 8:30 in the second period.
Nick Anderson finally did connect on a power play with 9:20 left in the second period, tipping a Caig shot just inside the left pipe for his 12th goal. Caig then crushed a a drive from between the circles that went high past Ellsworth for a 3-1 lead. The sophomore center ended the game with two goals and two assists, giving him seven goals and 14 assists for 21 points in 18 games.
After the Huskies got within 3-2 on Colin Murphy’s 19th goal of the season, UMD responded with goals 43 seconds apart early in the third period to go up 5-2. Caig fed Nick Anderson at 5:53 and Evan Schwabe found an open net at 6:36. Marco Peluso got UMD’s second power-play goal with 9:36 to play.