HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Michigan Tech Huskies, who have struggled mightily since October, earned their second tie of the New Year by using a little Winter Carnival magic to come away from Friday night’s game against the Bemidji State Beavers with a 2-2 tie.
The tie kept the Huskies from breaking the Colorado College Tigers’ 1961-62 mark of 18 consecutive losses in Western Collegiate Hockey Association games.
“I thought our kids did a terrific job of making sure that we were focused in the third period in a tight game,” said Huskies head coach Jamie Russell. “We had great chances to win.”
Huskies netminder Kevin Genoe was tested from the opening drop of the puck, and only blinked twice all night. Beavers’ forward Drew Fisher had the first good scoring opportunity almost four minutes in off a pass from forward Ryan Cramer, but Genoe made the stop.
Freshman forward Milos Gordic had the first scoring chance of the game eight and a half minutes in when he picked up a puck near the Huskies’ bench and skated down to fire a shot on Beavers goaltender Dan Bakala. Bakala kicked the rebound out to Huskies (3-22-4 overall, 1-18-2 in the WCHA) defenseman Steven Seigo, a sophomore, but Seigo’s attempt was blocked.
Beavers head coach Tom Serratore mentioned earlier in the day that his team needed some secondary scoring. Fortunately for the Beavers, their primary scoring was still working.
Forward Ian Lowe put the Beavers on the board at the 16:24 mark when he took a pass from forward Jordan George and buried a one-timer behind Genoe. Defenseman Jake Areshenko also picked up an assist as he fed the puck up to George.
The Huskies, who welcomed sophomore winger Aaron Pietila and sophomore defenseman Carl Nielsen back into the lineup, lost co-captain Brett Olson with 37 seconds left in the opening frame when he went down during a scrum near Bakala’s goal.
“It’s been the story of the year,” said Russell. “This is the healthiest we’ve been since October…[Olson] goes out in the first period and we’re down to 11 forwards.”
After the Huskies killed of their first penalty of the night, Bakala served up the Huskies’ first goal of the night when he attempted a clearing pass that hit the forechecking freshman forward Patrick McCadden. McCadden blocked the pass and fired around Bakala to tie the game 8:42 into the second period with his second goal of the year.
The Beavers (10-14-3, 6-12-3) had two power-play chances to regain the lead before the second period ended, but failed to convert on either chance. Freshman forward Jacob Johnstone nearly made Bakala pay a second time for a failed clearing pass, but he couldn’t quite corral the loose puck.
Gordic gave the Huskies their only lead of the game 7:13 into the third period when Johnstone intercepted a Beavers’ defenseman’s pass behind Bakala’s net. Johnstone fed Gordic crashing the net, and Gordic slipped the puck through Bakala’s feet for his 13th of the season.
The lead was short-lived however, as Beavers forward Aaron McLeod stickhandled his way through several Huskies’ defenders, cut across the top of the right circle and fired a wrist shot that beat Genoe over his left shoulder at 10:16.
“We are happy to get out of here with a point,” said Serratore. “Aaron McLeod made an excellent individual play … it’s always important to get a goal from somebody other than Read, Lowe, and George.”
From that point forward, the Huskies tightened up defensively, and it showed. Co-captain Deron Cousens kept Beavers forward Matt Read from receiving a pass from George on one offensive chance, and George fired a shot from a similar spot to where McLeod scored from that Genoe gloved with 1:37 left in regulation.
Beavers defenseman Dan MacIntyre took a penalty for goaltender interference with 1:03 left in regulation, but the Huskies failed to get a shot through to Bakala before the buzzer sounded on the third period.
In the extra session, the Huskies had three good chances to score. Freshman winger Ryan Furne took a pass in front of Bakala, but fired wide. Gordic had a shot from the right circle that Bakala stopped.
The best save of the night, though, came off the stick of freshman winger Tyler Gubb. Gubb took a pass from Johnstone and fired a shot that Bakala bobbled, but hung on to with just 46 seconds to go.
Neither team was successful on the man advantage, as the Huskies finished 0-5 and the Beavers went 0-3.
Genoe made 32 stops for the Huskies. Bakala made 27 for the Beavers.
Video: Bemidji State coach Tom Serratore:
Video: Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell: