Houghton, MI — The No. 16 Bemidji State Beavers came into Houghton with visions of knocking off yet another WCHA opponent in non-conference play, but the Michigan Tech Huskies weren’t so easily dispatched. The Huskies controlled the play for much of the second and third periods, skating away with a 4-1 win on Friday night.
“I thought that last weekend we played too conservatively,” said Huskies (9-12-2 overall, 5-9-2 WCHA) head coach Jamie Russell. “We did a very good job staying aggressive tonight.”
The Huskies appeared to be just slightly off in the early going as freshman defenseman Drew Dobson fired a blast that just slid wide just about a minute and a half into play.
“I thought Drew (Dobson) got stronger and stronger as the game went on tonight,” said Russell.
The Huskies held the Beavers (12-6-3 overall, 7-2-3 CHA) from getting their first shot on net until the 7:17 mark, when sophomore forward Tyler Scofield slipped behind the Huskies’ defense and got two quick shots that sophomore goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak had to stop. Teslak would finish the first period with six stops in his first action since the GLI.
Junior center and Huskies’ leading scorer Peter Rouleau nearly gave the Huskies the lead late in the first as he turned toward the net and fired a puck that eluded both junior goaltender Matt Climie and the far post with just 1:15 left.
Co-captain Lars Helminen had a couple of opportunities early in the second period to get the Huskies on the board, but both of his shots off of face-offs were kicked away by Climie.
The Beavers then nearly took the lead when junior defenseman Riley Weselowski pinged a blast that beat Teslak, but not the post at the 8:09 mark.
Sophomore center Ryan Angelow netted his fourth goal of the season at 8:57 to give the Huskies the lead, 1-0. Freshman forward Ryan Bunger picked up the puck along the boards in the offensive zone, moved the puck back to Dobson at the point. Dobson’s shot was redirected just to the left of Climie by Angelow.
The Huskies dominated much of the third period, and were rewarded with a trio of goals, compared to just one for the visiting Beavers.
“We didn’t have a lot of jump in our forecheck tonight,” said Beavers head coach Tom Serratore. “You don’t get a lot of chances against (MTU) and you have to make the most of them.”
With Beavers senior center Ryan Miller off for checking from behind, senior assistant captain Tyler Skworchinski netted the first Husky power play tally in three games when he received a pass from junior forward Jordan Foote to Climie’s right and shot up over Climie’s shoulder. Sophomore forward Malcolm Gwilliam also assisted on the goal that came at the 7:34 mark of the third period.
“The players have been getting frustrated with our power play struggles,” said Russell. “It’s not always going to be exactly the way you want it.”
Shortly after the power play goal, sophomore forward Alex Lord extended the Huskies lead to three when a puck he threw at the net hit a Beaver defenseman and eluded Climie at 11:01. Bunger and sophomore defenseman John Schwarz both assisted on the goal.
The Beavers cut the lead to two when sophomore forward Tyler Scofield, who was perhaps the best Beaver forward most of the night, squeezed a shot through Teslak at the 17:03 mark. The unassisted goal came on the power play, and was his third of the season.
Serratore pulled Climie to get a six on four advantage late in the game, but the move backfired, as Gwilliam jumped out of the Huskies’ bench after the penalty expired, picked up the loose puck, and blew past the Beaver defense to net his sixth goal of the season in the empty net, sending the 2039 Husky faithful away with smiles on their faces.
“You don’t get a lot of chances, so when you get the opportunity, you have to convert,” said Serratore.
The Huskies finished the night one-for-seven on the power play, while holding the Beavers to one-for-four with the man advantage.
“If you’re going to be short handed as often as we were tonight, it really takes a lot away from your offense,” said Serratore.
Teslak made 22 stops for his fourth win of the season, while Climie made 24 in the loss.
“After not playing well at GLI, it was great to get my game back together,” said Teslak.
With a win on Saturday night, the Huskies can reach double digit wins for the first time since the 2002-03 season.