HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Michigan Tech Huskies (6-3-1 overall, 3-2-1 WCHA) got a pair of goals from senior center Tyler Skworchinski to ease past the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (2-5-3 overall, 1-5-2 WCHA) with a 4-1 win on Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“I thought we were a bit more relaxed tonight,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “We made more plays with the puck.”
Junior forward Tyler Shelast finally broke through for the Huskies in the second period with his fourth goal of the season when he redirected a loose puck up and over Bulldog freshman goaltender Alex Stalock. Sophomore defenseman Geoff Kinrade fed the puck into the neutral zone to freshman center Alex Gagne who bounced it off the boards to a hard skating Shelast in stride. The goal came at 9:03 of the second period.
“They deserved to win,” said Bulldogs head coach Scott Sandelin. “We can’t rely on Alex (Stalock) to win games for us.”
The Bulldogs got off a quicker start than they had on Friday night, but couldn’t find a way to solve Huskies sophomore Rob Nolan, who finished the first period with ten very solid stops en route to 20 for the game.
The Huskies wouldn’t stand for the domination of the Bulldogs for long though, as the “Bump and Grind Line” of Skworchinski and juniors Jimmy Kerr and Jordan Foote nearly found the net behind Stalock when Foote slid the puck underneath Stalock and through the crease wide to the far side just four minutes in.
“We with intensity for 60 minutes tonight,” said Skworchinski. “We took a lot of pride in coming out here and having a much better performance than last night.”
The Huskies finally broke the streak of 80:12 of scoreless hockey at the 15:12 mark of the opening frame when sophomore forward Malcolm Gwilliam buried a wrist shot from the high slot past Stalock. Freshman defenseman Drew Dobson got the puck to Gagne, who fed Gwilliam in stride before he ripped the shot.
Kerr nearly gave the Huskies a two goal lead with a chance just :24 into the second period, but the puck slide straight through the crease behind Stalock.
The Bulldogs were able to finally find the back of the net at the 12:47 mark of the second period as a scramble ensued in front of Nolan. Nolan made the first stop on sophomore forward MacGregor Sharp, but the puck squirted out to freshman forward Logan Gorsalitz who fed fellow freshman Drew Akins. Akins was able to get the puck up over Nolan, who was still down on the ice, for the goal.
“We just got outworked tonight,” said Akins. “They came out to play, and we were sitting back and waiting for somebody else to do things.”
Shelast nearly reopened the two-goal lead when Kinrade found him wide open in the slot, but Stalock was square to Shelast and made the stop, keeping the score close.
In the third period, the play was pretty even as the Huskies looked to protect the lead. Sharp was left alone in front of Nolan just 2:23 in, but Nolan came up with the stop.
The Huskies did manage to reopen the two-goal lead when Skworchinski fired a puck on net after a feed from Kinrade at the blue line past Stalock on the power play at 9:13. The goal sent the 2581 Huskies faithful to their feet for their loudest cheer of the night.
“We’ve been struggling on the power play the last couple of games,” said Skworchinski. “Coach said get a lot of shots on net, and that one was just one of those seeing-eye shots that found the back of the net.”
With the two-goal lead, the Huskies settled into a defensive stance, protecting Nolan as much as possible, and surrendering only two shots.
Skworchinski struck again with Stalock pulled for an extra attacker. At the 19:46 mark, Skworchinski fired the puck down the ice into the yawning net to put the nail in the coffin. It marked the first time in his four-year career that Skworchinski finished with multiple points.
Stalock played another solid game for the offense-deficient Bulldogs, coming up with 23 saves on 25 Huskies shots.
The Huskies finished one for six on the power play while holding the vaunted Bulldog power play to zero for three.