HOUGHTON, Mich. — For the second straight night, the Michigan Tech Huskies took an early first period lead before the No. 15 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs evened the game at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena en route to a 2-2 tie on Saturday night. With the tie, the Huskies set a new school record with seven ties.
“We played to win,” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “I challenged the team. Guys stepped up and we rose to the occasion.”
Both teams spent the opening minutes moving back and forth down the rink with little in the way of scoring chances. The Huskies (5-22-7 overall, 1-18-7 WCHA) broke the scoreless tie on their second good opportunity of the night.
Sophomore winger Jordan Baker stole the puck at his own blue line, blew past a Bulldogs’ defenseman, cut in on Bulldogs’ goalie netminder Alex Stalock and beat him with a deke to his backhand. The goal, Baker’s 14th of the season, came at 7:39.
“The pucks are just coming to me right now,” said Baker. “I just saw the opportunity there and poked the puck by (the defenseman).”
The Huskies did a great job of forechecking for the next couple of shifts and it looked like the Huskies might hold on to the lead, but the Bulldogs’ (16-9-7 overall, 10-8-6 WCHA) Michael Gergon had other ideas.
Bulldogs’ co-captain Andrew Carroll, with a Huskies’ defender cutting off his access to the net, found Gergon streaking down the left side of the offensive zone and hit him with a perfect pass. Gergon buried his eighth goal of the season at 11:36. Nick Kemp also assisted on the goal.
“I’ll take three of four (points) on the road,” said Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin. “You gotta find ways to win, especially when you have a lead going into the third.”
Shortly after the goal, the Bulldogs had a power play chance in which Justin Fontaine took a cross-ice pass from Mike Connolly and hit both the right post and the crossbar on the same shot. After video review, it was determined that the puck never crossed the line.
The Huskies had a golden opportunity to regain the one-goal lead when Baker and freshman forward Peter Rohn skated in on a two-on-one, but Baker’s shot sailed over Stalock and the net.
Bulldogs’ defenseman Trent Palm had the first good chance of the second period when he crashed the net, but his one-timed shot hit the post to Robinson’s left. Robinson finished with 28 saves.
With Huskies’ defenseman Eli Vlaisavljevich off for interference, the Bulldogs got a little bit of luck in order to take their first lead of the game. Co-captain Josh Meyers took a pass from Mike Connolly and ripped a one-time slap shot that hit the crossbar and fell over the line for a goal. The goal was Meyers’ eighth of the season.
The Huskies needed to come out hard in the third period to make up for struggling through the second, and they did just that.
Junior winger Drew Dobson had a huge shot from the high slot, but the puck hit freshman winger Alex MacLeod in front of the net.
The Bulldogs came roaring back with a couple of good chances in close to Robinson when Michael Gergon and Cody Danberg each had chances off turnovers from Huskies’ defenders.
Senior winger Derek Kitti evened the game 7:08 into the third when he one-timed a pass from junior defenseman John Kivisto. Kivisto picked the puck up off the boards to feed Kitti for his third goal of the season.
“We were trying to get a lot of pucks to the net,” said Kitti. “Kivisto was just able to get a pass to me, and I put it in.”
MacGregor Sharp had a chance to give the Bulldogs back the lead when he won a faceoff in the offensive zone and cut right to the net with the puck. That was the last really good opportunity for the Bulldogs.
After forcing the Bulldogs to ice the puck with about a minute left in regulation, both Baker and freshman center Brett Olson had outstanding chances to give the Huskies the lead, but neither could find a seam in Stalock. Stalock finished with 19 saves.
In the extra session, Baker had two great chances in front of Stalock off a pass from Dobson, but couldn’t manage to bury either one.
“We didn’t play very well in front of (Stalock),” said Sandelin. “I get tired of saying that.”
The Bulldogs finished one-for-five on the power play, while the Huskies went zero-for-three. With the seven ties, the Huskies tied the WCHA record for ties in league play.