College Hockey:
Robinson’s 29 saves lead Michigan Tech’s upset of No. 1 Minnesota-Duluth

— Minnesota Duluth has been living dangerously atop the Division I polls the past two weeks.

In a four-game stretch this month, the Bulldogs had a pair of one-goal home wins over Alabama-Huntsville, a loss at Nebraska-Omaha and a tie with Michigan Tech on Friday, after leading by four goals.

UMD hit a low point in Saturday’s rematch, showing little cohesiveness in a 5-0 loss to Michigan Tech before a sold out crowd of 6,776 at Amsoil Arena.

The Huskies (12-12-2, 9-7-2 WCHA) scored four first-period goals on the way to surpassing its win total in the league for the previous three years combined. Michigan Tech, after scoring the final four goals Friday in a 4-4 overtime tie, came right after top-ranked UMD.

“The first period Friday just wasn’t us and after that, it was important that we play for a little bit of pride,” said Michigan Tech captain Brett Olson. “Winning puck battles and skating, those are our biggest assets, and we knew we had to keep doing those things because we know how dynamic UMD is.”

What Michigan Tech did was shut out the highest-scoring team in Division I for the final 109:47 to complete what first-year coach Mel Pearson called the best weekend of play this season.

It was UMD’s most one-sided loss since an 8-2 defeat by St. Cloud State on Feb. 11, 2011, the first shutout loss since North Dakota won 5-0 to open Amsoil Arena on Dec. 30, 2011 in a non-league game and the first shutout loss in the league in 105 games.

The Huskies scored the final nine goals of the series and senior goalie Josh Robinson stopped the final 52 shots he saw. Michigan Tech led 32-29 in shots on goal Saturday and 71-66 in the series.

“It comes down to effort and they outworked us plain and simple,” said UMD senior goalie Kenny Reiter, who was replaced after the first period. “They won battles and buried their chances and their goalie played well. I wasn’t happy with how I played, I let in two bad goals, and that’s not good when you want to keep your team in the game.”

UMD was 16-1-4 the previous 21 games, but had no answer against Michigan Tech in the final five-plus periods.

Olson got the Huskies going by taking advantage of a UMD turnover and rifling a shot over Reiter’s left shoulder unassisted 9:25 into the game.

Things got worse for the home team as Michigan Tech scored consecutive power-play goals on their first two man-advantage shifts, 1:49 apart, from freshmen left wingers Blake Pietila and David Johnstone.

Center Jacob Johnstone, David’s older brother, connected with 1:59 left in the opening period and it was 4-0. Aaron Crandall replaced Reiter to start the second period.

The Huskies added a third-period goal from Tanner Kero.

“We got outworked for 60 minutes and it showed on the scoreboard. It was unacceptable,” said UMD senior defenseman Brady Lamb.

UMD coach Scott Sandelin changed his four forward lines after Friday’s game, a lineup that had remained the same for 16 games, but not much worked for the revamped roster. Entering the rematch, the Bulldogs were 8-0-1 the last nine home games and 7-0-1 the last eight games overall against Michigan Tech.

The Bulldogs came into the game averaging 3.96 goals a game. Their power-play woes continued, 0-of-2, and 0-of-21 the past six games.

“It wasn’t even close who the better team was from start to finish,” said Sandelin. “I liked our first shift of the game and that was about it. There weren’t many positives. It was an old-fashioned butt kicking.”

Among Michigan Tech’s wins this season were 7-2 over Denver and 3-2 in overtime against Minnesota, both rated teams. The last three years in WCHA play, the Huskies were 2-24-2, 4-24 and 2-19-7, and coach Jamie Russell was let go and former Michigan Tech forward and Michigan associate head coach Pearson was brought in.

“Our guys got a little confidence Friday and that effort continued [Saturday],” said Pearson. “To basically shut out the nation’s leading scoring team for the last five periods was a great tribute to our players, especially players like Brett Olson, who have played through some rough years.”

The loss dropped second-place UMD five points behind Minnesota in the WCHA race following a Minnesota 3-2 win at St. Cloud State. The Bulldogs head on the road this weekend at last-place Alaska Anchorage.

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  • AJ

    Finally, after putting up with 4 previous futile seasons, it’s good to be a Huskies fan!

    Keep it going, Tech!!!

    • http://www.collegehockeypulse.com/ mrjakep

      Nice series on the road for the Huskies!  I bet you could hear a pin drop at the Amsoil after Tech went up 4 – 0!  Are they back to early season success?  Time will tell!

      • Taylor Birkelo

        Nope, you could not hear a pin drop at, i was there, it was a sellout croud and we were still cheering louder then nerds across the rink from us. Play another 2 and UMD will sweep.

        • http://www.collegehockeypulse.com/ mrjakep

          Don’t you love how loyal fans are in MN!

      • Ruger

        Over the radio broadcast you could actually hear the Tech fans chanting!


    I said it yesterday and i will say it again today.  Can you say peaked too early!!!  I am guessing you won’t see the mighty dogs on the top of any polls come tomorrow.  And how about little Jack C.’s bid for a Hobie after that weekend.  Held off the board two nights in a row, at home, against tech.  BRUTAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • nogofer

      I believe the rodents dropped one to Tech, did they not?

      • Bulldogsnation

        Why don’t you mind your own business, for years i have seen you making dumb comments all over the place. 2 weeks and all the Sioux fans can finally shut up.

        • nogofer

          I’m just gettin’ warmed up…

    • UMDDogz

      Looks like you guessed wrong about the polls, and the pairwise.  The Dogs are still #1 since no other teams really made a statement this weekend.

  • http://twitter.com/jerryschippa Jerry Schippa

    Keep it up Tech, solid start to the year but peak during the WCHA playoffs and we might actually see Tech in the NCAA Bracket! It’s still a bit of a long shot, but its better than we had under Russell!

    • FD8

      Tech and NCAA bracket in the same sentence? What are you smoking, and can I have some?

  • bulldogsupersenior

    As a UMD fan, I gotta give credit when it’s due. They out-worked us, winning battles to pucks and keeping it in their offensive zone. We’ll bounce back next week, but 5-0 just proves that anything can happen in league play.

  • GeauxSioux

    @UMD that’s gotta sting, but yet another example of why the WCHA is the by FAR the best conference. 

    • Gophersforlife

      Makes no sense

      • Gophersforlife

        that you are here

  • dtowner

    As a UMD fan it sucks to see your team’s lack of effort for 5 periods. After scoring 4 goals and having a comfortable lead, it was upsetting to see them sit back and watch the game nearly be lost on friday and lost saturday. One would think a team of championship caliber would come out strong saturday after having 4 unanswered goals scored against, but they were flat footed and lost almost every battle of the game and it showed on the score board. It was more upsetting that on friday they lost every face off in the offensive zone to set up plays to score. I’m glad that tech played as well as they did. They didn’t let up and I would love to see them at the X come march. The true test will be next weekend to see if UMD can bounce back after being outplayed for 5 periods.

  • Robviking70

    What a lame article title…show some class Minnesota people.  A 5-0 win is not linked to a goalie as much as it was the butt whooping by the forwards.  

  • Tech Fan

    I believe Tech has played 7 games against “top 3″ ranked teams.  3-2-2 record.  They can play with anyone this year, the big question is consistency.  They have a lot to learn about winning still, but this program is on the rise! 

  • Jason

    As neither a bulldog or huskies fan I feel like I can take away from that game without any bias. The bulldogs had crappy defense, bad turnovers, took bad penalties, and overall had no energy. This Tech team isn’t a pushover anymore, you can’t make any mistakes otherwise they make you pay. They are very inconsistent but dangerous to play, as shown both Friday and Saturday. 

  • UpNorthHockey

    One of the earlier posts said it well….inconsistent but dangerous.  This Tech team has 6 players currently tied for the team scoring lead and 2 following close after.  It’s a team that might not have any marquis players, but is very deep.  There is no weak line and the D have solidified as the season progressed.  If they can play at a consistent level, they might go places in the post season. 

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