HOUGHTON, Mich. – Looking to continue their great start at home, the Michigan Tech Huskies used a pair of first period goals to grab an early lead. However, three goals in the middle frame from the No. 15 Lake Superior State Lakers led to the Huskies’ first loss, 5-3, Friday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
A scrum at the end of the second period saw the Huskies’ Alex Petan take a five-minute major for facemasking, setting up the Lakers for a major power play to start the third period. It took the Lakers just 31 seconds to strike on that advantage, as Alex Globke got a pass from Stephen Perfetto in the slot and lifted a shot over Pheonix Copley’s shoulder.
“We need other guys to help out,” said Lakers coach Jim Roque. “You can’t just sit on one line and expect them to score all the time.”
The Huskies struck just 1:25 into the game when Blake Hietala picked up a loose puck in the offensive zone behind the Lakers’ goal and skated around the net before zipping the puck through Kevin Kapalka’s legs. The goal was Hietala’s third of the season.
After a long shift involving the Lakers’ top line of Globke, Dan Radke and Colin Campbell resulted in a pair of scoring opportunities and a forced icing by the Huskies’ defenders, Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson used his timeout to attempt to rally his troops.
The ploy seemed to work, as the Huskies (3-7-1 overall, 1-2-0 WCHA) got back to work offensively, nearly scoring when Chris Leibinger’s shot from the left point hit a Lakers’ stick and nearly found a hole in Kapalka’s gear a minute later. Kapalka finished the night with 33 saves.
Off the ensuing faceoff, the Huskies’ Mike Neville found co-captain Brad Stebner at the left point. Stebner’s long shot appeared to miss the net wide to the right side. However, Malcolm Gould snuck down to the side of the goal and redirected the shot over Kapalka’s shoulder at 3:41.
“For the most part, I thought we did a lot of good things again tonight,” said Pearson. “We got off to a lead, but it almost came to easy. I thought if we got the third goal, that might have helped us, but we didn’t.”
Just as the Huskies’ first power play was coming to an end, C.J. Eick got loose behind the Lakers’ defense and nearly beat Kapalka with a backhand shot.
Roque got his wish in the middle frame as the Lakers got three goals, none from the top line.
Copley made an initial save and second save before the puck was cleared out by the Huskies’ defense, right to a waiting Matt Johnson, who wired a shot that beat Copley at 2:27.
The Lakers tied the game on a penalty shot. After a review of a breakaway chance for Zach Sternberg resulted in the penalty shot, the Lakers defender deked to his backhand to beat Copley at 5:05.
“We had a rough couple of minutes there,” said Huskies co-captain Blake Pietila. “We didn’t play a 60-minute game.”
On the next drive into the zone, the Lakers earned their first lead after Johnson dropped the puck to Eric Drapluk during a three-on-two. Drapluk released a slap shot that beat Copley cleanly at 5:25.
The Lakers took their two-goal lead into the final four minutes before taking a pair of penalties. On the two-man advantage, Tanner Kero found Petan skating in from the left point. Petan beat Kapalka with a wrist shot at 16:22.
Pearson pulled Copley with about 1:16 remaining. The move nearly paid off immediately, as the Huskies got the puck in near Kapalka, but could not quite solve him again. After clearing the puck out of the zone, Garrett Clemment sealed the game with an empty-net goal.