HOUGHTON, Mich. — Michigan Tech Huskies’ head coach Mel Pearson was concerned that his squad would show signs of rust after their second weekend off in three weeks.
They did, and the visiting Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks in part to a pair of goals from winger Austin Farley in the first period before the Huskies knew what hit them.
The Huskies battled back, but the Bulldogs held on for a 7-3 victory Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“Sometimes we score four goals and your players think it’s going to be an easy night,” said Bulldogs’ coach Scott Sandelin. “Against any team, I don’t feel safe until that final buzzer.”
Captain Mike Seidel scored what would stand as the game-winner to give the Bulldogs a four-goal lead on the first shot attempted against new Huskies’ goaltender Pheonix Copley. Seidel took a pass from defenseman Drew Olson and fired a wrist shot over Copley’s glove at 9:52 of the opening frame.
“We are not going to win many games when we give up seven goals at home,” said Pearson. “I didn’t think we skated very well [in the first period]. I liked the way we battled back.”
Farley picked up his first of the night to get the Bulldogs (4-7-2 overall, 2-5-2 WCHA) on the board on their first entry into the Huskies’ zone. Farley took a pass from winger Caleb Herbert, completed a spin-o-rama to beat a Huskies’ defender and cut to the net before beating goaltender Kevin Genoe at 1:29.
Farley struck again a little over three minutes later when he was left unattended to Genoe’s right. Defenseman Wade Bergman fired a shot from the right point that bounced its way to Farley, who tipped it in at 4:36.
With Herbert off for cross checking, the Bulldogs extended their lead to three when winger Adam Krause forced Genoe to misplay the puck just 13 seconds into his team’s advantage. Krause pressured Genoe, stole the puck and buried in the open goal at 9:08.
Genoe’s night ended with the goal.
“It’s disappointing [and] it’s not the way we are as Michigan Tech hockey,” said MTU captain Carl Nielsen. “There’s no reason to come out and give up four goals in the first period.”
The Huskies (4-7-0 overall, 3-6-0 WCHA) finally got on the board at 18:07 of the opening period when a shot by assistant captain Steven Seigo’s shot rebounded out in the slot to center Tanner Kero. The sophomore buried the rebound in the back of the net for his third tally of the year.
Looking to build off the late goal, the Huskies came out flying in the second period. After an early penalty kill, the line of wingers Blake Pietila and Alex Petan along with center Jujhar Khaira had chances to score both even strength and on the power play. Petan missed two great chances on the same power play at one point.
Winger Blake Hietala was finally able to get the Huskies on the board at 13:13 with a shot from the slot. Center Jacob Johnstone attempted to feed Milos Gordic to begin the cycle, but the puck bounced past the big winger. Johnstone located the puck and banked the puck off the glass to Hietala out front for his first collegiate goal.
“It’s something I’ve been dreaming about for a long time,” said Hietala. “It would have been nice to get the [win].”
That power play in the opening minutes of the middle frame for the Bulldogs included their best chance to score when center Tony Cameranesi fired a shot that rebounded to Seidel, who couldn’t lift the rebound over Copley’s outstretched leg, keeping things status quo.
Winger David Johnstone cut the Bulldogs’ lead down to one when he snatched up his own rebound and beat goaltender Matt McNeely 4:21 into the final frame. Johnstone picked up a pass from Kero in the corner to the right of McNeely before cutting out in front of the goal to take the initial shot.
The Huskies took three third-period penalties and the Bulldogs made them pay twice as Herbert and winger Joe Basaraba each potted markers just under two minutes apart to regain the two-goal lead. Herbert’s goal came off a back-door pass, while Basaraba snuck a rebound past Copley.
“Our power play came through,” said Sandelin. “It’s a good win for our team because they tightened it up and made it a one-goal game and we found a way to win.”
Bulldogs’ winger Justin Crandell topped off a three-point effort with a goal at 14:15 of the third to ice the game.
McNeely made 27 saves to pick up his second win of the season.