HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Michigan Tech Huskies (1-1-0 overall) showed what a difference 48 hours can make, as they exploded out of the gates, but the patient Lake Superior State Lakers (0-1-1 overall) struck twice in the middle frame before the Huskies recovered in the third en route to a 4-3 win in the second game for both teams in the Superior Showcase at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Sunday night.
“I thought we played a really solid 60 minutes tonight,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “We really kept our composure (in the third period), and we made smart decisions with and without the puck.”
Huskies captain Jimmy Kerr finally regained the lead for the Huskies just 3:39 into the third period. Freshman center Eric Kattelus fed the puck out to Kerr from behind the net, and Kerr quickly deposited it in the back of the net. Foote also assisted on Kerr’s first of the year.
“We needed to get this one,” said Kerr. “I was squeezing my stick a bit too much on Friday, so I tried to keep loose tonight.”
An even game in the first period quickly turned to the Huskies’ favor when assistant captain Tyler Shelast notched his third power-play goal of the weekend by wristing a rebound chance past Lakers goaltender Pat Inglis. The sophomore made the initial stop on Husky defenseman Drew Dobson’s blast from the circle to Inglis’ left, but couldn’t keep the rebound out. The goal, which came at 4:54, was also assisted by captain Jimmy Kerr.
“Whenever you are playing at home, it’s important to get that first goal and get the crowd into it,” said Russell.
The Huskies struck again 3:04 later as sophomore center Ryan Angelow ripped a blast past Inglis from just inside the blueline. Angelow turned up the rink at center ice, caught a pass in stride from sophomore winger Ryan Bunger, and was off to the races for the goal at 7:58. Senior defenseman Mark Malekoff also assisted.
Both teams seemed to settle down after the goals were scored, though the Huskies did have a few golden opportunities to extend their lead to three.
Senior center Peter Rouleau found sophomore defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich in front of the net with just under eight minutes remaining, but Vlaisavljevich couldn’t pull the trigger.
With just under five minutes left, freshman forward Bennett Royer undressed a Laker defender, but couldn’t do the same to Inglis. Kerr had a point-blank opportunity from between the hash marks just a minute after that.
Looking to clear the puck out of his own end late in the first period, sophomore defenseman Simon Gysbers fired the puck from just beyond his own side of the red line. The puck took a hop or two, a la North Dakota’s Robbie Bina against Minnesota last season, and froze Husky netminder Rob Nolan before sneaking through his pads just before the buzzer sounded. The goal was Gysbers’ first of the season.
“The goal was a huge lift for us,” said Lakers head coach Jim Roque. “I like everything we did this weekend, even though we are still young with a lot of freshmen and sophomores.
Despite being outplayed in the early stages of the second period, the Lakers made good on a long rebound surrendered by Nolan. Sophomore center Nik Sellers knocked home the rebound off a shot from freshman winger Chad Nehring at 7:41 for his first of the year. Assistant captain Dan Eves carried the puck into the zone before feeding Nehring for the initial shot.
The Lakers took their first lead of the game when Nathan Perkovich, a sophomore winger, stuffed the puck through Nolan just 2:09 later. Assistant captain Josh Sim set Perkovich up all alone in front of Nolan. The goal was Perkovich’s second this season.
Inglis closed the door on the Huskies once he had the lead to work with, making a tremendous stop on Angelow in front with just over seven minutes remaining the second. Angelow had received a perfect pass from the corner to Inglis’ left to set up the chance.
“We knew he was a good goalie last year,” said Roque. “He gives us a chance to win every night, and that’s all we can ask of him.”
The Huskies finally found another chink in Inglis’ armor on a late-period man advantage as senior winger Jordan Foote picked up his first of the season by pushing the puck over the line behind Inglis. Junior center Alex Gagne blasted a shot that got through Inglis’ pads and lay on the goal line before Foote reached in. Freshman defenseman Deron Cousens also assisted on the goal at 18:26.
“It’s important for us to get bodies to the net, and that worked for us on the power play tonight,” said Foote.
After the Huskies got the lead back, they went into defensive posture much like the one they had in third periods last season, keeping the Lakers from getting quality chances down the stretch.
The Lakers did have one golden opportunity, going on the power play with 2:45 remaining, but the Huskies shut the door. After the man advantage, the Lakers pulled Inglis, but it didn’t help, as they could not get the puck to Nolan, let alone past him.
“We played our systems a lot better, and the guys came out with a lot more intensity tonight,” said Kerr.
The Huskies outshot the Lakers 25-15. In the third period, the Huskies held the Lakers to just two shots on goal.
The Huskies finished last season with a 9.8% success rate on the power play. This season, they are 28.6% through the opening weekend.
On a side note, Nolan has surrendered long goals from near the red line in each of his last two starts dating back to February 10, 2007, against the Denver Pioneers.