HOUGHTON, Mich. — If the lesson learned by the No. 3 Colorado College Tigers was about the MacInnes Student Ice Arena being a tough place for opponents to win, the Michigan Tech Huskies were willing tutors for the second consecutive night. The Huskies rattled off two first period goals and had a three-point effort from Peter Rouleau en route to a 5-2 victory over the WCHA leaders Saturday night.
“The seniors have really led us well,” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “I think they all rose to the occasion.”
Veteran leadership had been a major focus for the Huskies (10-11-3 overall, 6-8-1 WCHA) during their off week last week, and they received a huge lift from senior winger Jordan Foote, who got the Huskies on the board just 1:18 into the game.
Foote and freshman center Bennett Royer came into the offensive zone on a two-on-one and Royer fed Foote. The puck redirected off of Foote’s right skate and beat Tigers’ netminder Richard Bachman. It was Foote’s third of the season.
“It was a good pass from Bennett,” said Foote. “I had no idea it was coming, Bennett just fed it to me, and it bounced off my skate and into the net.”
After the Huskies scored, the Tigers (18-7-1 overall, 15-4-1 WCHA) had two golden opportunities to even the game with consecutive power plays. The Huskies effectively shut down the first power play. The Tigers had a couple of excellent chances on the second one, but Huskies’ netminder Rob Nolan was equal to the task.
“We had a chance with two power plays to get things rolling,” said Tigers’ coach Scott Owen. “(But) we couldn’t even get it in the zone.”
The Huskies only needed one power play of their own to extend their lead to two.
Rouleau, a senior center, took a pass from sophomore defenseman Drew Dobson near the Tigers’ goal and beat Bachman with a backhand along the ice. The goal, Rouleau’s fourth power play marker of the season, was also assisted by captain Jimmy Kerr.
“Jimmy made a great pass to Dobson, and Dobson made a perfect pass to me,” said Rouleau. “(Tyler) Shelast pulled the defenseman over to him, and that left me alone.”
After the Huskies’ second goal, both teams settled into a game that was eerily reminiscent of Friday’s. The Tigers finished the first period with a 9-6 advantage in shots, but the Huskies held the lead.
The Tigers cut the lead in half just over two minutes into the second period when sophomore defenseman Nate Prosser fired a wrist shot from the boards on Nolan’s left that somehow snuck through Nolan to the short side.
“I got a little worried when I let that goal in,” said Nolan. “I thought I was going to get it, but I only got a little piece of it.”
The Tigers took control of the play as the Huskies appeared to back off the attack. Nolan made several tough stops to keep his team ahead until the Huskies were able to get back to what worked for the early stages of the game.
“It felt, in the second period, that we had them on the ropes,” said Owens.
Shortly after a power play, the Huskies regained a two-goal lead when Shelast worked himself open in front of Bachman. Rouleau fed the puck to Shelast, who beat Bachman to the far side.
A questionable call on Kerr for elbowing late in the period gave the Tigers a chance to cut the lead in half again, and they only needed a minute to do it.
Assistant captain Jimmy Kilpatrick, who’d been searching for his 100th career point for three and a half games, finally succeeded with his fourth power play goal of the season at 19:26.
“Jimmy had a really good weekend for us,” said Owens. “He got his nose dirty and he had a lot of shots and that’s what he does best.”
Nolan made fifteen stops in the period. He made sure that was as close as the Tigers would get for the rest of the night, finishing with 33 saves.
Junior winger Malcolm Gwilliam regained the two-goal lead for the Huskies after some outstanding defensive play from the Huskies for the first half of the period.
Shelast, who failed to clear the puck on his first attempt, got the puck past the Tigers’ defender and onto the stick of Rouleau in stride. Rouleau sucked Bachman to himself before feeding Gwilliam, who had a wide-open net to bury the puck in.
The Huskies added an insurance goal when sophomore winger Ryan Bunger finally notched his first goal of the season with 1:55 left in the game.
“To see Ryan rewarded with a goal I think is huge,” said Russell. “He brings his hard hat and lunch bucket to the rink every day, and (he and his linemates) don’t get talked about.”