HOUGHTON, Mich. — The Michigan Tech Huskies defended their undefeated home streak, defeating No. 2 Denver University in a 7-2 win. Milos Gordic tallied a hat trick for the Huskies in his 2011 season debut.
“Off the bat, I just wanted to get comfortable and throw some hits early, get in the corners, and a couple shifts into it, I felt pretty good, and it went from there,” said Gordic following his hat trick debut.
Five other Huskies also made the score sheet, as they remained undefeated at home with a 5-0-0 record.
The Pioneers arrived in Houghton fresh off a sweep of Minnesota State, and undefeated in WCHA play this season.
“I think you saw a great example of a team that was prepared to play and compete very hard and execute and perform, versus a team who was thinking how things went last Saturday night,” said Pioneers coach George Gwozdecky of his team’s mental state going into tonight’s game.
A slow start for the Pioneer allowed the Huskies to pull ahead quickly in the first.
Huskies forward Tanner Kero opened the scoring at 1:53 into the first period, netting his third of the season after linemate Alex MacLeod batted the puck off the boards behind the net and it landed in Adam Murray’s crease, where Kero was positioned to slam it into the back of the net.
The Pioneers rallied with a goal of their own at 4:23 when Pioneers defender Joey LaLeggia released a rocket from the point that soared over Josh Robinson’s shoulder.
A power-play goal from Gordic at 10:06 set the Huskies ahead when Ryan Furne took the initial shot and Gordic was right alongside his teammate to pick up the rebound and net his first of the season. Furne crashed the net and lost his footing and slammed right into Murray, who left the game from the injury.
Freshman Juho Olkinuora stepped up to take Murray’s place for what was his first action of his Pioneers career.
Ryan Furne scored a goal of his own at 10:22 to close out the first period with the Huskies ahead 3-1.
The Pioneers had close calls in the second period, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities to catch up.
“It’s a lot easier to play with a lead than it is to catch up,” said Gwozdecky. “Tonight is not a good night for some of our sticks to go quiet.”
The Huskies increased their lead at 3:17 in the second after Gordic tipped in Dan Sova’s shot from the point.
The Pioneers thought they had gotten back into the game with a goal, but the review found the puck had gone in off a skate. The third period brought more bad luck for the Pioneers.
At 7:06 into the period, the Pioneers attempted to regroup with a timeout. Taking the ice again, they pulled their goaltender in hopes that the six-on-five advantage would give the offense the kick-start it needed.
The Huskies did not give them the opportunity, as Gordic forced a turnover, leading to a breakaway that gave him his third goal of the game at 3:59. The Pioneers left their net empty, and captain Brett Olson netted two more goals before the netminder came back in.
“After the first goal, I’m thinking OK, you know what, we may not be able to come back in this game, but it’s a good opportunity to try to work on our six-on-five situations,” said Gwozdecky of his decision to keep the empty net after the first goal. “But Tech didn’t really give us a chance to.”
A final goal from the Pioneers with less than two minutes remaining in the game set the score at a 7-2 final.
“I thought we matched up well against them,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson, “We got off to a good start, and that’s important. It’s our home ice; we have to set the tone on how we’re going to play. My concern now is to make sure you play the same way from start through the end. Regardless of what the score is, regardless of what’s going, you have to keep maintaining that pace of play and standard of play.”
Robinson left the ice with 38 saves. Murray made three before being injured, and Olkinuora made 18 in his career debut.
The two teams return for more WCHA action tomorrow night at 7:07 p.m.