HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for their first sweep since 2008 and first home sweep since Oct. 19-20, 2007, the Michigan Tech Huskies picked up a pair of first period goals, but couldn’t sustain the pressure, allowing the No. 6 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs to chip away at the lead and skate away with a 3-2 win Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“This is the game you expect when you play against Tech,” said Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin. “A tight, one-goal game. I thought their goalie played great, I thought our goalie played good. It’s a wonder anybody scored any goals out there.”
Mike Connolly finished off the three-goal run for the Bulldogs at 12:16 of the third period with a rebound goal. Connolly took a pass from Jack Connolly and carried the puck nearly the length of the rink before firing a shot and then picking up his own rebound. Wade Bergman also assisted on the goal, Connolly’s 11th of the year.
The Bulldogs (18-11-1 overall, 14-7-1 WCHA) jumped out of the gates flying, taking the game to the Huskies and forcing freshman netminder Kevin Genoe to make several of his 11 opening period stops before the Huskies (5-22-1 overall, 4-18-1 WCHA) got their feet wet. Fortunately for the hosts, Genoe was more than ready for the challenge, finishing the game with 36 saves.
Freshman defenseman Steven Seigo broke the game open for the Huskies with a one-timed shot past Bulldogs’ goaltender Kenny Reiter at 9:38. Assistant captain Jordan Baker made the pass from Reiter’s right to the streaking Seigo, who notched his third goal of the season. Junior center Eric Kattelus, Winter Carnival Most Valuable Player, also assisted on the goal.
“I think we took a good step [this weekend],” said Kattelus. “They got some bounces towards the end. We can’t dwell on this for too long.”
The Bulldogs’ best chances to even the game came six minutes later when both Justin Fontaine and Drew Akins had chances in close to Genoe. Fontaine’s initial shot was stopped and Akins picked up the rebound, but Genoe came across the crease to make a huge save.
Fontaine put the Huskies on the power play shortly after and it cost the Bulldogs dearly.
Seigo fed Baker at the right point for a long shot that deflected off a Bulldogs’ defender and past Reiter at 17:01. Seigo and Kattelus both assisted on the goal, Baker’s eighth of the season.
The Bulldogs started the second period the same way they had the first, jumping all over the hosts and any loose pucks they could find along the way. Genoe made numerous solid stops to keep the Huskies on top.
After a batch of penalties put the Huskies on the lesser end of a four-on-three advantage, the Huskies were able to get back on track and get pucks to Reiter. In one shift, Baker, Kattelus, and Dobson missed three chances to bury the puck in a gaping net with Reiter knocked down and out of the crease. Reiter finished the night with 21 stops.
“I thought we had a really good push with some sustained pressure,” said Huskies’ coach Jamie Russell. “I think that might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, but we didn’t get a bounce there.”
With freshman defenseman Carl Nielson in the box for holding, the Huskies had a great chance short-handed when Kattelus and freshman winger Mikael Lickteig skated down on a two-on-one, but Lickteig’s shot sailed over the net. After getting the puck back into the offensive zone, the Bulldogs capitalized.
David Grun pounced on a rebound off a shot from Scott Kishel and buried the puck behind Genoe to cut the Huskies’ lead in half at 11:21. Travis Oleksuk also assisted on the goal, Grun’s third of the season.
The Huskies had a power play early in the third period, but the Bulldogs did a great job of keeping the Huskies out near the boards instead of allowing them the passing lanes necessary to set up scoring chances.
The Bulldogs pulled even after Drew Akins netted a power-play goal at 10:26 of the third period. The goal, Akins’ sixth of the season was assisted by Justin Fontaine and Mike Connolly.
The Bulldogs went two-for-seven on the power play while holding the Huskies to one-for-three on the man advantage.