HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for some revenge for an October 10 loss in Marquette, the Michigan Tech Huskies jumped out to a quick lead in the opening minutes against the Northern Michigan Wildcats.
Though the Wildcats played a stronger game than that previous effort at the Berry Events Center, they fell to the home squad, 2-1, on Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. With the win, the Huskies improved to 3-13-1 overall, 1-9-1 record in the WCHA.
That was one of the uglier games Ive been a part of, said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. I thought (the Wildcats) really had us on our heels in the third period, but we found a way to win.
Huskies sophomore forward Jordan Baker intercepted a puck at center ice, skated it all the way to Wildcats goaltender Brian Stewart, and was hauled down by a Wildcats defenseman. But Baker managed to slip the puck to freshman Brett Olson, who netted his fourth of the season, and first game winner, at 6:30 of the second period.
Jordan make a very nice play beating his guy in a foot race, said Olson. All I had to do was beat my guy up ice.
Sophomore center Bennett Royer got the Huskies on the board just 2:44 in as he cut to the net from the corner to Stewarts right and beat him low with a backhand. The goal was Royers first of the season.
I was just trying to create some energy, said Royer. I was just trying to put it on net and it was a pretty good shot I guess.
Freshman Huskies netminder Josh Robinson looked solid between the pipes from the opening faceoff on as he was called upon to make seven saves in the opening frame. The best stop came when Wildcats forward Jared Brown cut to the net, but could not beat Robinson with a deke to the forehand as Robinson followed the puck intently.
Every game Im getting more and more comfortable, said Robinson. Its been difficult for everyone (this year), luckily tonight we were able to pull through and get a win.
The Wildcats (3-11-2 overall, 2-9-3 CCHA) had a golden opportunity to even the game on the power play shortly after, but Phil Fox took a pass from Mark Olver and couldnt find any holes in Robinsons gear.
We have to find ways to put pucks in the net when we have those looks, said Wildcats head coach Walt Kyle. We are halfway through a year and the guys have to do all the other things it takes to be good.
Mike Maltese finally got the visitors back into the game with a goal just 1:48 into the second period when he beat Robinson. The goal, Malteses first of the season, was assisted by Justin Florek and Derek May.
Josh played very well, said Russell. He let a pretty soft goal in, but he had a great third period. We have to remember that he is a true freshman.
Shortly after tying the game at one apiece, the Wildcats appeared to getting a power play, but defenseman Alan Dorich took exception to Huskies forward Derek Kitti, who interfered with Stewart. Dorich was whistled for a five minute major for grabbing the facemask, putting both teams down a man.
Mark Olver nearly helped the visitors even the game on the Wildcats second power play of the night as he fed Ray Kaunisto, but again Robinson was there to make the stop for the Huskies. He would finish with 36 stops on the night.
In the third period, the Wildcats fired 18 shots on net, but Robinson came up big time and time again. Northern Michigan captain Tim Hartung took a pass in close to Robinson, but could not find a seam to shoot though.
Were desperate to win hockey games right now, said Russell. We have an awful lot of young players that are in pretty prominent roles right now.
Continuing his strong play, Olver carried the puck into the Huskies zone on a 3-on-2, but he fired high over Robinsons net.
Over eight and a half minutes in, Olver nearly scored on a wraparound off a quick faceoff in the offensive zone.
Trying to make the third time the charm, Olver took a pass from Blake Cosgrove behind Robinson, but he missed the shot as he lost his balance while shooting just a couple of minutes later.
Robinson came up huge again when Jared Brown and Nick Sirota skated in 2-on-1, but Browns shot was turned aside.
Kyle yanked Stewart for an extra attacker with just 1:06 to go, but the move nearly backfired off the faceoff as Baker pushed the puck down the ice and into the right corner, forcing the Wildcats to waste valuable time.
The Wildcats finished with 37 shots on goal, two shy of their season high against Ohio State in late November. The Huskies finished with 22.
The Huskies went 0-for-5 on the man advantage while holding the Wildcats scoreless in three attempts.
The teams will meet again tomorrow night in Marquette.