HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for a better effort Saturday night, the No. 20 Michigan Tech Huskies got just that in the early going, scoring twice in the opening frame.
The No. 4 Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs pushed back with three points from winger J.T. Brown and a game-winning goal from captain Jack Connolly to earn the sweep at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Huskies held Connolly off the scoreboard until the 12:04 mark of the final frame, when he took a lead pass from winger Mike Seidel and fired a shot at Huskies’ goaltender Josh Robinson, who made the initial save. The rebound kicked right back to Connolly, who didn’t miss the second time.
“He finds ways,” said Bulldogs’ head coach Scott Sandelin of his captain. “He doesn’t always score goals, but he makes plays. Teams pay attention to him.”
The Bulldogs (11-3-2 overall, 8-2-1 WCHA), who were looking to extend their unbeaten streak to 12 games, appeared poised to jump on the Huskies early as winger Caleb Herbert took a pass in the high slot from Brown. His scoring chance was stopped by Robinson, who finished the night with 37 saves.
Sophomore winger Ryan Furne got the Huskies on the board just 5:36 in when he took a pass on the back door from captain Brett Olson. The goal, Furne’s fifth of the season, was also assisted by sophomore defenseman Brad Stebner.
“We just knew that we had to get the puck behind their defense,” said Furne. “That’s what we did there, and it turned into a two-on-one.”
MTU assistant captain Jordan Baker took an interference penalty just over a minute later and the Bulldogs used the ensuing power play to their advantage. Assistant captain Brady Lamb took a pass at the left point from Brown and fired a shot that hit the right post, bouncing out front to Seidel, who wasted no time burying the rebound in the back of the net.
Less than 30 seconds later, UMD defenseman Wade Bergman took a penalty for holding the stick. On the Huskies’ power play, Baker picked up the puck along the right boards and fed sophomore defenseman Daniel Sova in his wheel house. Sova’s slap shot beat Bulldogs’ netminder Kenny Reiter at 10:05 for his first goal of the season.
“I felt really good about how we were playing,” said Huskies’ head coach Mel Pearson. “I thought we should have had better fate after the first period.”
Shortly after the Huskies (8-7-1 overall, 5-6-1 WCHA) regained the lead, sophomore center Jacob Johnstone had a golden opportunity to give the Huskies a two-goal lead when he found junior winger Mikael Lickteig, whose shot was stopped by Reiter.
Reiter finished the night with 24 saves.
Just under two minutes later, Robinson appeared to have control of a shot from Bulldogs’ winger Adam Krause. Winger Keegan Flaherty poked the puck loose before a whistle could be blown, and he managed to beat Robinson with a wraparound goal at 11:46. Defenseman Derik Johnson also assisted on the goal.
“Duluth is a dynamic team,” said Olson. “We’re that close, we’re getting there, too. We were proud of our guys.”
The Bulldogs came out of the gates flying in the second period and were rewarded for their efforts at the 6:29 mark when a pass from Herbert across Robinson’s crease found Brown crashing the net. Brown poked the puck into the gaping net, giving the Bulldogs their first lead of the night. Center Travis Oleksuk also assisted on the goal.
Looking to extend their lead, the Bulldogs earned a power play when Huskies’ freshman defenseman Riley Sweeney was whistled for a holding penalty. The Huskies managed to kill off the penalty and frustrate the Bulldogs, who then took two consecutive penalties.
While Lamb was off for roughing, the Huskies got a pair of long shots towards Reiter, the second of which beat him at 13:48.
Freshman winger David Johnstone scored his second power-play goal of the weekend and third of the season off a pass from assistant captain Steven Seigo. Furne also assisted on the goal.
In the third period, the Huskies had a great chance to take control of the game as Bulldogs’ winger David Grun and Johnson each took cross checking penalties 1:17 apart, giving the Huskies a lengthy five-on-three. For the second straight night, however, the Huskies could not take advantage, keeping the game even until Connolly broke loose.
After the Connolly goal, Huskies’ assistant captain Carl Nielsen took a high sticking penalty during the Bulldogs’ celebration, giving the visitors a power play.
Center Max Tardy made the Huskies pay as he picked up the rebound off the initial shot from Brown and buried it. The goal, which came at 12:50, was also assisted by winger Joe Basaraba.
Both teams scored a pair of goals on the power play, with the Bulldogs finished slightly more effectively at 2-for-5 with the Huskies going 2-for-6.
Video: Minnesota-Duluth coach Scott Sandelin
Video: Michigan Tech’s Ryan Furne
Video: Michigan Tech captain Brett Olson
Video: Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson