HOUGHTON, Mich. — The host Michigan Tech Huskies were looking to hand the St. Cloud State Huskies their first WCHA loss of the season, and did so with a 3-1 win at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena on Friday Night, marking the first time Michigan Tech has beaten St. Cloud since Nov. 11, 2005.
“We talked about it [before the game], that we wanted to win the special teams battle,” said Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell. “We still have some areas to improve. Every game is close and our guys rose to the occasion.”
Michigan Tech broke a 1-1 third period tie short-handed when sophomore defenseman Ricky Doriott found assistant captain Brett Olson cutting towards the offensive zone. Olson broke around Craig Gaudet, cut in on freshman netminder Mike Lee and beat him with a backhand shot at 5:48.
“Ricky was able to get a few steps and I knew that I could push the zone a little bit,” said Olson. “The first thing I was trying to do was get some separation from the defenseman and protect my hands from the backchecker.”
The goal was Olson’s fourth of the season.
Michigan Tech (2-3-0 overall, 1-2-0 WCHA) got off to a quick start when freshman forward Milos Gordic fed junior winger Jordan Baker in front of Lee, but both of Baker’s chances were stopped.
On their first power play of the night, St. Cloud (2-3-2 overall, 1-1-1 WCHA) defenseman Brett Barta, a junior, hit the crossbar behind Michigan Tech goaltender Kevin Genoe.
Senior defenseman Craig Gaudet had a Grade ‘A’ opportunity right off the faceoff on the second St. Cloud power play, but again Genoe was there to make the stop. Genoe finished the game with 26 saves.
“I thought that [Michigan Tech] won the majority of the little battles tonight,” said St. Cloud coach Bob Motzko. “I think they only had a couple of chances to score and they got enough.”
After the scoreless first period, senior Ryan Lasch had a great chance to give St. Cloud the lead after redirecting a shot from captain Garrett Raboin.
Michigan Tech finally broke the scoreless tie when senior defenseman John Kivisto fired a long wrister from the blue line that snuck through traffic and past Lee. The goal, which came at 10:23, was Kivisto’s first of the season and was unassisted.
St. Cloud needed a little over four minutes to even the score, as junior Garrett Roe notched his second goal of the season at 14:38. The initial shot from the point was fired by junior Tony Mosey and the second assist on the goal went to freshman Taylor Johnson.
“We knew it was going to be tough coming in,” said Roe. “They beat us on the foot battles and the loose puck battles.”
Michigan Tech had an opportunity to regain the lead late in the second period when Kivisto fired another wrist shot from the point that Lee struggled to get a handle on with junior center Bennett Royer attempting to stuff in a rebound. Lee finished the game with 20 stops.
“We played into their hands a bit,” said Motzko. “I think we were too cool and nonchalant.”
Before Olson’s goal, St. Cloud had a chance to take the lead when Roe set up Mosey in the high slot, but Mosey couldn’t beat Genoe.
“I thought [Genoe] looked very composed,” said Russell. “He made good decisions with when to freeze [the puck].”
St. Cloud winger Brian Volpei cut in on Genoe on the second of two St. Cloud power plays in the third period, but he was again denied by Genoe, who made eight stops over the final 20 minutes.
Off a faceoff with about 2:30 to go, sophomore Oliver Lauridsen launched a blast that Genoe shook off effectively. Shortly after, Roe found Lasch for another point blank shot that Genoe stopped.
Motzko burned his timeout with 1:34 left and pulled Lee for an extra attacker, but his troops couldn’t really get anything going.
Michigan Tech iced the game when sophomore winger Alex MacLeod buried the puck into the gaping net. Olson and captain Malcolm Gwilliam both assisted on the goal, MacLeod’s second of the season at 19:53.
Michigan Tech was 0-for-3 on the man advantage while holding St. Cloud to 0-for-5.
The teams will meet again tomorrow night for the rematch.