HOUGHTON, Mich. — Junior goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak outdueled the No. 7 Denver Pioneers senior netminder Peter Mannino in the rematch to one of the most exciting goaltending duels this season. The Michigan Tech Huskies got a first period tally from a very unlikely source and another from one more familiar in a 2-1 victory over the third-best team in the WCHA.
A lot of frustration has built up (over the lack of scoring), said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. Im really happy for the guys to get to experience a nice win.
Junior defenseman Geoff Kinrade, fresh off an important penalty kill, picked up a pass from senior center Peter Rouleau and skated it the length of the rink before beating Mannino with a shot over his left shoulder. The goal, which came at 9:08 of the third period was also assisted by junior center Alex Gagne.
I just wrapped the puck around the boards on the dump-in and Kinrade was right there to take the puck down the ice, said Rouleau. Its nice to win the last game of the year here.
Mannino was active right from the drop of the puck as the Huskies starting line of senior winger Jordan Foote, freshman center Eric Kattelus, and junior winger Malcolm Gwilliam kept the puck in the offensive zone for the Huskies (12-17-5 overall, 8-14-4 WCHA). Mannino made two of his 19 saves for the game in the first 16 seconds.
Thats the kind of game we expected, said Pioneers head coach George Gwozdecky. Both teams have to play solid defensively.
The Pioneers (22-11-1 overall, 16-9-1 WCHA) had a couple of good chances of their own six minutes later when senior winger Tom May fired two wrist shots at Teslak, but neither could find the back of the net.
Teslak, though he wasnt tested as much tonight, was strong when he had to be, said Gwozdecky.
Junior winger Alex Lord, playing in consecutive games for the first time since early in the season, scored his second goal of the season with a low wrist shot that eluded Mannino. The goal, which came at 12:41, was assisted by freshman center Bennett Royer, who fired the initial shot that rebounded to Lord. Sophomore forward John Kivisto also assisted on the goal.
I just try to work hard and I just had a bounce so I just tried to shoot it on net, said Lord. It just feels good to get one.
After the goal, both teams began parading to the penalty box with a whole host of roughing and interference calls over the rest of the period. The Pioneers ended up with a couple of power plays from all the penalties, but they couldnt solve Teslak.
Your best penalty killer has got to be your goalie, said Russell. Teslak played extremely well for us.
Both teams skated well in the second period. The Pioneers finished the period with a 13-4 advantage in shots, but that stat doesnt tell the real story.
The Huskies nearly took a 2-0 lead when freshman center Bennett Royer blew through the Pioneers defense and cut in on Mannino. His backhand ended up sailing just wide.
At the midway point of the period, the Foote, Kattelus, and Gwilliam again gave the Pioneers fits, but Kattelus blasted a long wrist shot wide of the net.
With Foote off for roughing the goalie seven minutes into the third, Pioneers assistant captain Chris Butler ripped a shot from the right point that hit the far post. Sophomore winger Rhett Rakhshani had a chance from the slot which Teslak had trouble handling. Teslak would finish with 32 stops on 33 Pioneers shots.
With seven minutes left in regulation, assistant captain Tyler Shelast nearly helped the Huskies to a two goal lead with a well-placed pass to Rouleau. Rouleaus shot was stopped by a diving Mannino.
Peter is the difference-maker for our team, said Gwozdecky. Hes been our most consistent player and our most valuable player all season.
With 2:46 left in the third, Gwozdecky called a timeout to try to discuss strategy on the man advantage. Within six seconds of the faceoff, Mannino was pulled in lieu of an extra skater. The move paid off.
Rakhshani made things very interesting by burying a rebound into the back of the net with just 1:47 remaining on a six-on-four advantage. Freshman winger Kyle Ostrow fired a shot off the post which careened to Rakhshani. Butler also assisted on the goal.
The Huskies appeared to ice the game 13 seconds later when sophomore defenseman Drew Dobson took a pass coming out of the penalty box and launching a shot into the open net, but the goal was called back due to a mistake at the Huskies bench which gave the Huskies too many men on the ice.
The penalty set the stage for a rarely-seen six-on-three advantage. The Pioneers tried to set up a play similar to the one they had just scored on with 22 seconds left, and Rakhshanis shot was stopped by Kinrade, who threw everything he had into the play.
The penalty kill was very big for us tonight, said Russell. Denver has a number of snipers on their power play unit.
The Pioneers finished one-for-five on the power play when all was said and done. The Huskies had no goals on three chances.
The win was Teslaks sixth of the season.