HOUGHTON, Mich. — The way the No. 13 Michigan Tech Huskies have been playing through the early stages of the season, it appeared as though the only thing that could derail their ascension to elite status in the WCHA would be the loss of junior goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak to an injury. Unfortunately, thats exactly what 2,890 Michigan Tech fans witnessed Friday night, as the No. 17 St. Cloud State Huskies took advantage of Teslak’s injury, beating Michigan Tech, 5-2, behind three of power play tallies.
“We played a good game tonight,” said St. Cloud head coach Bob Motzko. “I said that this weekend was going to be a special teams weekend.”
Michigan Tech (5-4-0 overall, 4-3-0 WCHA) jumped out of the gates quickly, getting three shots on sophomore netminder Jase Weslosky, but Weslosky was equal to the challenge. Michigan Tech senior winger Jordan Foote had two or three chances in close to Weslosky, but he was in the right spot to make the stops.
“Jase was good when he had to be,” said Motzko.
The momentum of the game shifted once Michigan Tech started heading to the box. With junior winger Malcolm Gwilliam off for hooking, St. Cloud (5-2-2 overall, 2-2-1 WCHA) was able to get one past Michigan Tech goalie Rob Nolan.
“I dont think that we played with the jump and the spark and the emotion that we needed to,” said Michigan Tech head coach Jamie Russell. “You need to play 60 minutes in this league.”
Freshman Garrett Roe fired a shot that snuck through the pads of Nolan to sit on the goal line, and sophomore winger Ryan Lasch pounced on the loose puck, netting his third power play marker of the season at 14:20. The goal, Lasch’s sixth of the campaign, was also assisted by assistant captain Garrett Raboin.
St. Cloud opened the second with their third man advantage, and used it wisely, striking at the 1:02 mark. Sophomore winger Andreas Nodl notched his third power play marker as he put a shot just under the crossbar, but just over Nolan’s shoulder. Roe and senior Aaron Brocklehurst both assisted on the goal.
With Foote for high sticking, St. Cloud’s top power play unit struck again as Nodl fed the puck across the slot to a streaking Lasch, who beat Nolan with a one-timer. The goal, which came at 6:53, was also assisted by Roe. St. Cloud finished the night three-for-five on the man advantage.
“The back-door (goal) was a breakdown,” said Russell. “We should have picked that up.”
Special teams became the theme of the second period as Michigan Tech struck on a power play of their own when senior center Peter Rouleau scored a goal very similar to the one that Nodl had scored earlier. The goal, which came at 9:59, was set up by junior defenseman Geoff Kinrade and Gwilliam.
“Kinrade made a nice pass to me,” said Rouleau. “The goalie went down, and I just got it over him.”
Junior Michael Olson regained the three-goal lead for St. Cloud when he buried a rebound off a shot from freshman winger Aaron Marvin, who stole the puck from Michigan Tech sophomore winger Ryan Bunger. The goal, which came at 12:37, was Olson’s second of the season.
Michigan Tech nearly cut the lead to two again as Rouleau was fed the puck in position to fire on net during a four-on-four situation. Unfortunately for Michigan Tech, Rouleau hit more pipe than net, and the puck skittered harmlessly behind the net.
Early in the third period, Michigan Tech began to press and their hard work nearly paid off when junior center Alex Gagne found himself almost alone with the puck in front of Weslosky twice, but neither time could he pull the trigger.
“We can’t play 20 minutes and expect to win,” said Rouleau.
Michigan Tech continued to pressure the St. Cloud defense, and it eventually buckled as Rouleau buried what was a third or fourth rebound chance at 7:36. Rouleau’s fourth of the season, and second of the game was assisted by freshman winger Jordan Baker and assistant captain Tyler Shelast.
With Michigan Tech continuing to press, St. Cloud took advantage of a turnover at their own blue line, and junior center Brett Borgen and freshman winger Brian Volpei skated nearly the length of the rink two on one. Borgen hit Volpei near the Michigan Tech net, and Volpei netted his first collegiate goal at 14:57.
“We just came off our best weekend of hockey, and we felt it was imperative to have a strong effort tonight,” said Motzko.
Weslosky played strongly throughout the third period, coming up with 11 of his 21 saves.
Nolan struggled for Michigan Tech, stopping 23 in the game.
With the win, St. Cloud now holds a 5-0-1 advantage over Michigan Tech through their last six meetings. The teams meet at the MacInnes again tomorrow night.