HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for any kind of spark to help keep his team from setting a new school record with 16 consecutive losses, the Michigan Tech Huskies received a big one in the form of co-captain Brett Olson.
Olson notched an assist and was the Huskies on-ice leader all night as they battled back from a one-goal and two-goal deficit to tie the St. Lawrence Saints in nonconference action Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“I thought we generated a lot more the game … when you do that, you are going to draw more penalties,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “I think we’ve shown great resiliency.”
Olson, a junior, took the ice for the opening faceoff and less than a minute later found himself on a 2-on-1 with freshman winger Ryan Furne. Furne fed him a pass for a one-timer, but Olson’s redirection sailed just over the net.
On his next shift, during the Huskies (3-15-3 overall) first power play of the night, Olson fed co-captain Deron Cousens on the right point. Cousens moved the puck to sophomore defenseman Steven Seigo in the middle of the rink and Seigo ripped a slap shot that beat Saints netminder Matt Weninger. The goal, which came at 4:56, was Seigo’s fourth.
“I thought [Brett] was absolutely outstanding,” said Russell. “The difference he makes in the room, the difference he makes on the bench. It was terrific to have [Brett] back.”
The Saints got their feet underneath them after the power play and forced a crucial turnover to Huskies goaltender Josh Robinson’s left. Winger Greg Carey tipped an attempted clear from a Huskies defender out in front of Robinson where captain Aaron Bogosian grabbed the loose puck and fired a shot in the top corner to Robinson’s right at 7:38.
The Huskies had two more power plays in the opening frame before the Saints (6-10-4 overall) could begin sustaining any pressure. However, as the period drew to a close, the Saints began to get pucks to Robinson and caught another break.
Winger Kyle Flanagan picked up a dump-in behind the Huskies goal and fed defenseman Justin Baker before moving out in front of Robinson. Baker cut in deep and fed Flanagan in the slot, and Flanagan beat Robinson with a one-timer. The goal came at 17:18.
Looking to respond on the power play early in the second period, the Huskies did just that as Furne took a pass from freshman winger Milos Gordic and beat Weninger just 2:52 in. The goal, Furne’s seventh of the season, was also assisted by Cousens.
“We came out and we wanted to get the bus ride out of us, and get off to a good start,” said Saints assistant coach Mike Hurlbut. “In the end, penalties caught up to us.”
The Saints regained the lead five minutes later when Kyle Flanagan netted his second tally of the night off a pass from Carey. Carey took a lead pass from defenseman George Hughes, cut into the offensive zone, and found Flanagan charging toward the net.
It appeared that the Huskies might even the game for the second time when the Saints took yet another penalty. However, it was the Saints with the jump as Cousens fired a shot that was blocked and cleared by assistant captain Jacob Drewiske to winger Jared Keller. Keller rushed down the right side of the ice and beat Robinson with a well-placed shot at 13:52.
The Huskies could have packed it in right there and gone on to their 16th-consecutive loss, but instead they dug deep to even things up before middle frame expired.
Near the end of another Huskies’ power play, Bogosian carried the puck over the Huskies blue line and fired a slap shot at Robinson. The puck caromed out to freshman defenseman Daniel Sova, who cleared it to Gordic driving up the right wing. Gordic let loose a cannon that beat Weninger shortly after the power play expired at 16:05. The goal was Gordic’s 11th of the season.
On the ensuing shift, Huskies’ freshmen forwards Dennis Rix and Tyler Gubb fought with a trio of Saints for a loose puck in the corner to Weninger’s right. Rix managed to come up with the puck and attempted to move it front. The puck careened off a Saints defender, Weninger’s leg pad, and into the net at 17:33.
Kyle Flanagan put the Huskies back on the power play at the end of the period, and Gordic attempted to set up Furne again for another tally, but Weninger got to the shot in time to make the stop.
While neither team scored in the third period, it was clear that the Huskies were getting the better scoring chances as they continued to fire shots at Weninger. The Saints goalie was equal to the task on every chance, including a play in which junior winger Alex MacLeod attempted to stuff the puck past him.
In the extra session, the Huskies again had several good opportunities to score, but couldn’t find a way to solve Weninger a fifth time. The best chance came with 1:47 left when Olson came in on a one-on-one. He make a nice deke to his forehand and fired a shot that Weninger was forced to hang on to.
Weninger would finish the night with 39 stops on 43 Huskies’ shots. Robinson made 29 for the Huskies.
The Huskies finished the night 2-for-9 on the man advantage.
Seigo’s goal in the first period marked the first time a Huskies’ player scored on a goaltender named Weninger. Matt’s two older brothers, David and Todd, both played goaltender for the Huskies.
The teams will meet again as both squads finish off their nonconference schedules.