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College Hockey:
14th Ranked Tigers Battle Back to Tie Huskies

— The Michigan Tech Huskies, looking to continue their fast start at home in 2007, faced a stingy No. 14 ranked Colorado College Tigers. The Huskies outshot the Tigers, 41-25, but couldn’t solve Tigers’ goaltender Matt Zaba more than twice in a 2-2 tie at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Friday night.

“I thought we played a very good hockey game,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “It feels like a loss after holding the 2-0 lead.”

The Tigers (14-9-2 overall, 10-6-1 WCHA) came out flying, challenging Huskies’ sophomore goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak several times in the first ten minutes of play. Teslak, playing in his second consecutive game, came away from the opening stanza with seven saves.

“We came out with pretty good energy and jump,” said Tigers head coach Scott Owens.

Sophomore center Ryan Angelow stole a breakout pass for the Huskies and ripped a slapshot that Zaba had trouble handling. Angelow had a second golden opportunity with just over six minutes left when freshman forward Phil Axtell landed a hard check on a Tiger defender in the corner and then fed the puck to Angelow in the slot. Zaba was again forced to make a save, finishing the first period with 14 stops.

In the second period, the Huskies (11-13-3 overall, 6-10-3 WCHA) continued their strong play from the latter half of the first period by holding the Tigers without a shot for the first 4:27. In that same time frame, the Huskies had four solid chances on net.

The Huskies finally broke through Zaba when freshman center Alex Gagne stole the puck from a Tiger defenseman during a line change, and quickly skated in alone on Zaba, putting the puck through Zaba’s legs and into the back of the net for his fifth of the year at 5:16 of the second period.

“I felt (the defenseman) right on me, so I tried to protect the puck as well as I could,” said Gagne. “When I got in close to the goalie, I just got my head up to try to find a hole to shoot at.”

When Tigers’ co-captain Lee Sweatt misplayed a puck at the Huskies’ blueline, and was hit hard by sophomore forward Malcolm Gwilliam. Junior center Peter Rouleau picked up the loose puck, flew down the ice on a three-on-one, and fed junior forward Tyler Shelast at nearly the last second possible. Shelast got the puck up and over Zaba at the 7:23 mark for his ninth of the campaign.

“We’ve found a line that works and we all compliment each other really well,” said Shelast.

Sophomore Chad Rau got the Tigers on the board when outstanding freshman Bill Sweatt found him in front of Teslak with a perfect pass. The goal, Rau’s eighth of the year, came at the 12:52 mark and was also assisted by junior forward Jimmy Kilpatrick.

The Huskies continues their pressure early in the third period, but couldn’t find a way to get the puck past Zaba again. Both Axtell and junior forward Jimmy Kerr had point blank opportunities, but Zaba was up to the task.

“We changed our lines a little bit,” said Owens. “We were able to battle back.”

With junior defenseman Mark Malekoff of the Huskies off for interference, Lee Sweatt evened the game at two apiece with a shot from the high slot to Teslak’s right at the 8:51 mark. Sweatt’s career-high seventh tally of the season was assisted by brother Bill and Kilpatrick.

Both teams had several chances to get the lead in final ten minutes of regulation, with the Huskies controlling huge chunks of time in the Tigers’ zone. With freshman forward Addison DeBoer off for hooking, the Huskies’ line of Gwilliam, Shelast and Gagne nearly netted the lead goal at least three different times over the course of the man advantage.

Teslak had to equal Zaba’s performance at the other end of the rink, and did, stopping senior center Brandon Polich on more than one occasion.

In the extra session, assistant captain Tyler Skworchinski won a key face-off in the Tigers’ zone, and then stole the puck from the Tigers’ defenders, but fired the puck wide of Zaba with 2:41 left.

With just under a minute left, Shelast blasted a long shot from Zaba’s left, but Zaba matched it.

The Tigers finished one-for-four on the power play, while holding the Huskies to zero-for-six with the man advantage.

Zaba stopped 39 Huskies shots in the tie, while his counterpart, Teslak made 23 for the Huskies.

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