HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking to leap-frog the No. 12 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs in the WCHA standings, the Michigan Tech Huskies needed another strong effort. They seemed to get it for most of the game, but a couple of bad breaks kept them from skating away with a win, as the Bulldogs triumphed 3-2.
“I think we deserved a lot better than that,” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “I’m a firm believer that if you work hard, you make your own bounces, and I thought we worked hard for 60 minutes tonight.”
Evan Oberg, a freshman defenseman, was the hero with his first collegiate goal at the 19:00 mark of the third period. Oberg got the puck after it took a strange flight path through the air and somehow managed to slide it along the ice past Huskies’ goaltender Micheal-Lee Teslak.
“We didn’t get the first goal, but we battled back,” said Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin.
Teslak was challenged early when senior winger Mike Curry and sophomore winger Jordan Fulton both had quality chances. Teslak came up big on both attempts.
Teslak had to make another great stop when assistant captain Andrew Carroll cut in on him uncontested, but Carroll lost control of the puck, allowing Teslak to steal it away.
“I was excited to get the start again,” said Teslak. “Tonight, they got a few bounces that made it frustrating in the end.”
After the Huskies (11-14-5 overall, 7-11-4 WCHA) got their feet underneath them, they took control of the play. With Bulldogs’ assistant captain Travis Gawryletz in the box for interference, they capitalized.
Assistant captain Tyler Shelast, who’d been held goalless for the past five games, finally notched his 13th of the season when he knocked his own rebound past Bulldogs’ netminder Alex Stalock at 14:53. Freshman center Eric Kattelus and captain Jimmy Kerr both assisted on the goal after Kattelus made a great feed to Shelast in front of the net.
The lead was short-lived however. Shortly after a power play, the Bulldogs (12-10-6 overall, 8-9-5 WCHA) had a little luck go their way to even the game.
Freshman winger Cody Danberg fired a shot that missed the net wide, but as Kerr attempted to clear the puck away from the net, he hit either Teslak or a Bulldog, and the puck bounced into the net. Sophomore defenseman Trent Palm was credited with his second goal of the season at 17:35.
“I saw an opening and tried to fire it,” said Kerr. “The lane closed up and I think I hit one of their players in the chest.”
The Huskies had a golden opportunity to regain the lead with just over a minute left in the period when Rouleau took a pass from Shelast and cut in on Stalock. Stalock got his stick on the puck and knocked it away, however.
In the second period, Teslak made another solid stop on the penalty kill against Gawryletz on a quick blast from the blue line. After the Huskies killed off the man advantage, they had a couple of good chances of their own.
Rouleau, Kattelus and freshman winger Bennett Royer worked the cycle effectively, keeping the puck away from Bulldogs defenders. Both Royer and Rouleau fired shots that Stalock had trouble controlling the rebounds of.
The Huskies suffered another awful blow when freshman winger Jordan Baker was sent packing with a five-minute major for checking from behind for a hit on freshman center Rob Bordson. Though the Bulldogs were only able to capitalize once, it was enough to change the course of the game.
Freshman winger Justin Fontaine gave the Bulldogs their second lead of the weekend when he batted home a loose puck with his skate to Teslak’s right at the 14:37 mark. The goal was reviewed, as it appeared that the puck bounced off of Teslak and right to Fontaine, who appeared to play the puck with a kicking motion, but upon review, the goal stood.
“We were thinking that hopefully something would get through,” said Sandelin. “When you have a five-minute (power play), you always worry whether you’ll have that intensity for the full five minutes.”
In the third period, it seemed only a matter of time before the Huskies would even the game.
Shelast took a pass from senior winger Jordan Foote and narrowly missed the post to Stalocks left with eight minutes remaining. Less than a minute later, junior defenseman Geoff Kinrade took a pass in the slot from junior center Ryan Angelow, but he couldn’t pull the trigger.
The Huskies did manage to even the game at the 17:56 mark when sophomore defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich reached to keep the puck in at the blue line before feeding it to Angelow. Angelow made a great play, getting the puck to sophomore winger Ryan Bunger, who notched just his second goal of the season.
“I reached for (the puck) and I just tried to make a play,” said Vlaisavljevich. “Angelow made a great play and Bunger finished it battling hard.”
After the Bulldogs regained the one-goal lead, Russell used his timeout to try to rally his troops, but the Huskies couldn’t win a faceoff in the offensive zone and couldn’t buy a goal to save their skins.