HOUGHTON, Mich. — The two-goal lead is often referred to as the worst in hockey. The Michigan Tech Huskies needed two of them to get past the visiting Minnesota State Mavericks, 5-2, Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Huskies’ chances of extending their three-game unbeaten streak were almost dealt a blow just about nine minutes into the game when Mavericks’ captain Rylan Galiardi and winger Andrew Sackrison broke in on a shorthanded two-on-one. Had it not been for a highlight-reel stop by Huskies’ sophomore netminder Kevin Genoe, the game would not have remained scoreless.
Freshman winger Dennis Rix responded to the huge save by Genoe with his first career goal at 10:37, just after the Mavericks’ penalty ended. Rix took a pass from sophomore winger Mikael Lickteig and fired a shot before burying his own rebound.
Adam Mueller put the Huskies back on the power play with a holding call at 11:59. MTU didn’t score on the ensuing man advantage, but Eric Kattelus did strike shortly after at 14:17. Freshman defenseman Daniel Sova fired a shot that was tipped to Kattelus by freshman winger Ryan Furne. Kattelus needed two swings to get the puck past Phil Cook.
The Mavericks cut the Huskies’ lead in half on a two-on-one late in the opening frame when Galiardi hit forward J.P. Burkemper for a one-timer that he buried at 17:24.
“We might have had six, seven two-on-ones tonight and only converted one of them,” said Mavericks’ head coach Troy Jutting. “You’ve got to take advantage when you get your chances.”
Using the late goal as a rallying point, the Mavericks jumped all over the Huskies in the second period, and they were rewarded for their efforts just 1:42 in.
Forward Michael Dorr picked up a pass from forward Mike Louwerse and cut out into the high slot where he fired a shot along the ice that beat Genoe through his feet, erasing Michigan Tech’s first two-goal lead and evening the score at two apiece.
The Mavericks peppered Genoe on odd-man rushes for the next 13 minutes, but couldn’t find the tally that would put them over the top. For every shot they fired, it seemed that Huskies’ defenders blocked an attempt as well.
Hanging on for dear life, the Huskies finally got their feet back underneath them late in the middle period and forced the Mavericks into taking two straight slashing penalties, about a minute apart, before striking on the five-on-three. Kattelus fed defenseman Steven Seigo, who blasted a slap shot past Cook at 18:40.
“The special teams overall [were] great,” said Huskies’ head coach Jamie Russell. “Through 40 minutes we’ve got to be better five-on-five.”
After getting the lead back, the Huskies regrouped to strike again on the five-on-four and take hold of their second “worst” lead of the night. After a Mavericks’ turnover high in the Huskies’ defensive zone, freshman winger Milos Gordic hit co-captain Brett Olson with a pass behind the Mavericks’ defense. Olson roofed a wrist shot over Cook’s shoulder at 19:41.
“It’s the sign of a good team that you are able to learn from your mistakes,” said Russell. “We applied what we want to do in the third period.”
The Mavericks were not able to get any consistent offense going in the final frame, firing eight shots at Genoe, who was equal to the task. They did manage to get a power play with 51 seconds remaining, but turned the puck over three times in the final minute, eventually leading to an empty-netter.
The teams will meet again Saturday night as the Huskies will play their fifth game in eight days.