DETROIT — After losing in an overtime heartbreaker to Michigan State on Wednesday and falling behind 2-0 to Michigan Tech in the first period, New Hampshire had not held the lead at any point in this year’s Great Lakes Invitational. That was true until sophomore Brett Hemingway’s second period power-play goal gave the Wildcats their first lead, 3-2, and they never looked back on their way to a 4-3 victory.
Hemingway received the puck at the left side of the Tech blue line after two quick passes from center ice left Hemingway all alone. The 6’1″ right winger skated to the top of the circle and fired a blast that beat Huskey goalie Cam Ellsworth high and right over the glove side.
“I had just come of the bench and I got a nice pass from Daniel Winnik,” Hemingway said. “He saw me, I was cutting and I had a lot of speed going over the line and caught the defenseman flat-footed. It gave me a lot of room to get wide and just tried to shoot the puck far post and it went in.”
The Wildcats added their fourth goal just 13 seconds into the third period and survived a late Tech rally to preserve the victory.
“We’re thrilled that we pulled off that win,” New Hampshire head coach Dick Umile said. “Michigan Tech, obviously, is a lot better than their record indicates. Coming out here and playing in such a great tournament should make us a better team. Coming out of here with one win is going to make us a better team in the end of the season.”
The loss was Michigan Tech’s eight in a row in the GLI since 7-3 victory over Michigan in 2000.
“I was awfully proud of our kid’s effort,” Michigan Tech head coach Jamie Russell said. “Obviously, we gone through a lot of adversity this year. There’s been a tremendous amount of frustration. Give our kids a lot of credit. They keep battling, they keep working, they keep competing hard. One of these days we’re going to hit a post and it goes in instead of out. We’ll get a bounce that goes on our stick instead of over it. In the second and third period, I thought our kids played remarkably well.”
Senior captain Colin Murphy was one of the bright spots for the Huskies, recording one goal and two assists on the weekend.
“I thought as a line, with Taggart Desmet and Chris Conner, we played pretty well,” Murphy said. “We were communicating well and moving our feet. Overall, I thought we had a pretty good weekend.”
After falling behind, New Hampshire leaned on its power play as the Wildcats went 3-7 with the man advantage and freshman goalie Kevin Regan.
“He settled down after letting a couple goals (past) him,” Umile said. “He’s only a freshman so he showed an awful lot of composure and made some big saves for us, especially a couple of key moments when they could have gone ahead of us.”
Freshman Tyler Shelast opened the scoring quickly for the Huskies with his second goal of the tournament 3:23 into the first period. Parked in front of the net, Shelast found the puck off the rebound of a Murphy point shot and knocked it just inside the left side of the net.
Just a few minutes later, Murphy collected his first goal of the tournament to put the Huskies up by two. Murphy brought the puck into the Wildcat zone all by himself, slid the puck between the legs of the last Wildcat defender, circled around from right-to-left and beat Regan through the five-hole.
New Hampshire had a golden opportunity to get back in the game with a five-on-three power play shortly after the midway point in the first, and it capitalized. With the all three Husky defenders collapsing on the net, the Wildcats fired several slap shots at Regan before senior defenseman Robbie Barker’s shot found the back of the net from the top of the slot.
Just as important as Barker’s goal was that it came nine seconds before two-man advantage expired, giving New Hampshire another five-on-four power-play opportunity. Just 12 seconds later at 12:03 in the period, junior Brian Yandle fired yet another slap shot that slipped past Ellsworth’s glove arm and trickled into the net.
Then, just 3:09 into the second period, Hemingway put the Wildcats up for good.
“That was a tough one,” Russell said of New Hampshire’s third goal. “We had a defenseman that stepped up on a bouncing puck and it bounced over his stick. They got the breakaway, they buried it. We had our chance on a breakaway and we didn’t capitalize.”
After New Hampshire jumped ahead only 13 seconds into the third, the Huskies mounted a spirited comeback, but were only able to muster a power-play goal from junior Nick Anderson.
“I think we got off to a better start tonight, but we got into penalty trouble,” Russell said. “Obvioulsly the five-on-three hurt us, but I think as the game went on, we got stronger. In the second an third periods, we had the advantage, certainly in shots on goal.”
Michigan Tech will travel to Denver for a pair of games with the Pioneers on Jan. 7-8 while New Hampshire looks forward to a home-and-home series with Providence on the same weekend.