HOUGHTON, Mich. — Coming into Friday night’s matchup with the eighth ranked Wisconsin Badgers, the Michigan Tech Huskies hadn’t scored a goal in 207:27 of play.
After one period of play, it looked like that number might expand past the 250-minute mark. Instead, the Huskies netted a pair of goals in the second period, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Badgers from skating away from the MacInnes Student Ice Arena with a 4-2 win.
The Badgers came out looking like they were set to blow the Huskies right out of the rink, as they fired four shots before the Huskies could sustain any offensive zone time. The first good Huskies chance came a little over four minutes in when freshman winger Ryan Furne hit co-captain Brett Olson for a one-timer. Olson’s shot hit the post to Badgers goaltender Scott Gudmandson’s right.
Regaining control of the play, the Badgers forced the Huskies’ defense to back it upon itself until forward Podge Turnbull was able to use Huskies defenseman Daniel Sova as a screen Turnbull’s shot went through Sova’s feet, and through goaltender Josh Robinson’s feet, and into the back of the net at 6:37. Defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Tyler Barnes assisted on the goal.
“We did a lot of good things in the first [period],” said Badgers head coach Mike Eaves. “The 16-4 shot differential doesn’t mean a thing.
Turnbull attempted to catch Robinson with a long slap shot about four and a half minutes later, but this time the Huskies’ goalie was equal to the task. The Badgers (18-8-3 overall, 10-7-2 in the WCHA) had another good opportunity to score when forward Mark Zengerle hit assistant captain Craig Smith with a pass, but again Robinson made the stop. He would make 16 stops before the period ended.
With things appearing to be going from bad to worse for the Huskies, they finally broke through just 41 seconds into the second period. Sophomore defenseman Steven Seigo found Olson with a pass. Olson fired a shot, grabbed his own rebound, and skated the puck around the net before feeding junior winger Alex MacLeod in front. MacLeod redirected the puck past Gudmandson for his sixth goal of the season.
The goal ended a scoreless drought of 228:08 for the Huskies (3-19-3, 1-15-1). It wouldn’t take long for them to strike again, ending a 255:40 streak without a lead.
Sophomore center Evan Witt buried his own rebound at 3:18 to put the Huskies ahead. Freshman winger Alan L’Esperance found freshman center Daniel Holmberg near the Badgers’ net. Holmberg fired a shot that rebounded to Witt. Witt needed two tries to notch his first goal of the season.
“I think that if you are going to upset the No. 8 team in the country, you can’t give up any soft goals,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “[In the] second period, we finally shot the puck. We got pucks to the net, and we were rewarded with a couple of rebound opportunities.”
The Huskies looked like a confident bunch after scoring, and they started to fire more shots at Gudmandson, who finished the night with 24 saves. Sova, a freshman, had a great chance to put the Huskies up two after taking a pass from Olson, but his long wrister was swallowed up by Gudmandson.
The Huskies’ hopes were dashed in a 39 second span as assistant captain Jake Gardiner and Zengerle chased Robinson from the net with a pair of tallies.
Gardiner took a pass from forward Jefferson Dahl and fired a shot at Robinson that was blocked. After grabbing the rebound, Gardiner fired twice more before finally beating Robinson to tie the game at 13:17. Schultz also assisted on the goal.
Zengerle took a pass from defenseman Frankie Simonelli and beat Robinson with a wrister along the ice. Forward Jordy Murray assisted on the goal.
After the third Badgers’ tally, Russell pulled Robinson in favor of Kevin Genoe. Genoe went on to make five saves over the last six minutes of the second period in order to keep the Huskies within one.
The third period was controlled by the Badgers for the most part, as the Huskies showed a bit of their age, struggling to mount much offense. They started the period with three minutes of power play time after a minute of 4-on-4, but couldn’t solve Genoe, who would make 14 stops in the period.
Witt had two great chances to tie things up about eight minutes in when he attempted a wrap around. His own rebound kicked right back to him, but Gudmandson sprawled out, and Witt couldn’t lift the puck over him.
Barnes put the icing on the cake for the Badgers at 13:12 of the final frame when a defensive miscue allowed him the room to skate in, fire a shot, grab his own rebound and bury it.
The Huskies were awarded a power play with 49 seconds to go, and Russell pulled Genoe, but Gudmandson made three great stops during two goalmouth scrambles to preserve the two-goal lead.
Neither team could get anything going during their power plays as both squads finished zero-for-three.
Gudmandson improved to 14-6-1 with the win, while Robinson fell to 1-10-2.
Video: Wisconsin coach Mike Eaves
Video: Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell