HOUGHTON, Mich. — After a disappointing Friday night loss, Michigan Tech came into Saturday’s game looking to rebound.
The season debut of Daniel Sova provided a spark to the physical game and the Huskies took care of rest, beating No. 15 Lake Superior State 2-1 at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Huskies’ Ryan Furne scored what would stand as the game-winning goal 10:33 into the third period. After an icing call against the Lakers, Mike Neville won the faceoff to Furne, who moved to the slot and lifted a wrist shot over the Lakers’ Kevin Kapalka’s shoulder and into the net.
“A big thing for us was coming out with a strong start and learning from our mistakes from yesterday,” said Furne. “I thought we played well in the first, second and third [periods] tonight.”
Two and a half minutes into the game, the Huskies’ Chris Leibinger fired an initial that was blocked. After getting the puck back, Leibinger skated in and fired another shot that was nearly tipped in by a streaking Blake Hietala.
From there, the Huskies began to outmuscle the Lakers (6-3-1 overall, 2-2-0 WCHA) with several big checks in a short amount of time. Despite the Huskies’ physical advantage, the teams remained deadlocked both in score and shots, 3-3. The Huskies went to work over the next two minutes, firing a further five shots that Kapalka stopped.
Kapalka was again asked to make a good save when the Huskies’ Max Vallis redirected a clearing pass to Neville, who skated the puck into the offensive zone and fired a long wrist shot that Kapalka stopped.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game tonight,” said MTU coach Mel Pearson. “I thought our team played hard and ground out a win tonight.”
The Huskies (4-7-1 overall, 2-2-0 WCHA) opened the second period on the penalty kill, but did not appear to be the team with a man in the box early as Dennis Rix took a pass from C.J. Eick and nearly beat Kapalka with a deke.
Alex Petan would get the Huskies on the board at 1:40. After taking a cross-ice pass from Tanner Kero, Petan fired an initial shot, which was stopped. Petan grabbed the rebound, skated behind the Lakers’ goal and threw the puck back towards the front of the net. The puck hit Eric Drapluk and caromed over Kapalka and in.
A couple of minutes later, Neville again factored into the Huskies’ offense as he attempted to feed Hietala on the back door. Hietala’s one-timer just crept wide.
Two consecutive penalties to the Lakers gave Michigan Tech numerous opportunities to expand their lead. Kapalka was called upon to make eight saves in the four-minute span to keep the game 1-0.
Kapalka continued to shine throughout the middle frame for the Lakers, making 23 saves of his 45 saves in the period.
“Tech played with a plan tonight,” said LSSU coach Jim Roque. “Everything was going to the net. That’s something our team needs to get better at. We don’t do that enough.”
After struggling through the majority of the period, the Lakers’ top line of Alex Globke, Dan Radke and Colin Campbell did have the Huskies’ Jamie Phillips out of position after making the first stop. However, co-captain Blake Pietila was there to keep the rebound from finding the back of the net.
Phillips finished the night with 21 saves.
“When you sit out for three or four weeks, it’s not easy to come back in,” said Phillips. “I felt the team really battled hard in front of me and really made my life a lot easier.”
The Huskies came out and got right back to work early in the third period, getting shots through to Kapalka. In the first nine minutes, the Huskies had seven shots despite being shorthanded twice.
The best chance did not hit Kapalka, as Petan got loose, skated in alone shorthanded, but fired over the net.
Andrew Dommett got the Lakers on the board at 12:30 when his shot snuck through a Huskies’ defender’s legs before eluding Phillips. Andrew Perrault and Garret Clement both assisted on the goal.
Roque pulled Kapalka for about the final 1:13, but the Lakers could not get the puck deep to establish any kind of a forecheck with the extra skater on the ice.