HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Michigan Tech Huskies (5-3-1 overall, 2-2-1 WCHA) and the Minnesota-Duluth (2-4-3 overall, 1-4-2 WCHA) battled evenly throughout regulation and an extra five minute session, skating to a scoreless tie on Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena, thanks mostly to the strong play of both starting goaltenders.
“I thought both goaltenders made a number of quality saves,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell.
Both teams fought to a standstill with neither team giving much of an inch in the early going. The Huskies had the distinct edge in hits, but couldn’t come away with anything to show for it.
Freshman goaltender Alex Stalock of the Bulldogs, the WCHA’s second busiest goaltender through the early portion of the season, saw plenty of action in the opening frame, making nine stops. His best stop of the period came off of the stick of Huskies sophomore defenseman Geoff Kinrade.
“In his last four or five games, he’s stopped looking like a freshman,” said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin. “He’s getting used to the league and to the team.”
Huskies sophomore goaltender, Michael-Lee Teslak had to deal with long stretches without any action, but when called upon, he came up big. No save was bigger than the one he made on sophomore forward Michael Gergon at the 13:20 mark from point blank range.
The second period was much of the same, with Stalock forced to come up big on multiple occasions. 10:53 into the second period, Huskies junior forward Tyler Shelast powered his way around the Bulldog defense, but ran out of room, and couldn’t get much on his shot.
“We didn’t have the best periods tonight,” said Huskies senior center Tyler Skworchinski. “We stuck in there and played hard until the end.”
Junior forward Jimmy Kerr, part of the hard working “crash line” with fellow junior Jordan Foote and Skworchinski, had a great chance with a wrist shot from the slot, but Stalock came up big on that opportunity as well.
“I think it starts off the ice for us, since we get along really well,” said Skworchinski. “We just fit with each other perfectly.”
Senior forward Bryan McGregor had the best opportunity of the second period for the Bulldogs with a point blank shot on a four on four situation at 17:37. Sophomore forward Mason Raymond won the draw clean to Raymond, but he couldn’t find a chink in Teslak’s armor.
Shelast had another opportunity to break the game open for the Huskies at the 18:08 mark of the period, as a long pass off of the boards slipped behind the Bulldog defenders. Shelast beat the defensemen to the loose puck, skated in on Stalock, but again couldn’t quite pull the trigger.
“It’s been great to come and play here (at Duluth),” said Stalock. “We need to get our power play going tomorrow.”
With just :19 left in the period, Teslak was called upon once again to stop Bulldog captain Andrew Carroll, who came straight from the penalty box and went straight to the net with the puck.
The third period was played much more conservatively by the Huskies. The Bulldogs managed a couple of long strings of minutes deep in the Huskies zone, but couldn’t find a way to beat Teslak. He would finish the game with 16 saves.
“The last ten minutes (of the third period) was our best of the game,” said Sandelin.
The Huskies dominated the extra frame with Kinrade taking two of three team shots in the overtime. Both shots came from outside the slot area, but they were both well placed, and both times Stalock was up to the challenge, keeping the 2629 Husky faithful from rising from their seats in celebration. Stalock finished with 27 saves.
The Huskies finished zero for three on the power play. They held the highly touted fifth ranked power play of the Bulldogs to zero for four.
The shutout for Teslak marked the first time since 1983 that the Huskies had a pair of shutouts in consecutive home weekends.
“Last year I struggled at home early in the year,” said Teslak. “This year, it’s been great getting better support from the fans, and we all feed off of that.”
The shutout was the first for Stalock for the season.
The teams will meet again tomorrow back at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.