HOUGHTON, Mich. – Every game in the new Western Collegiate Hockey Association could be billed as a a dog fight. The host Michigan Tech Huskies were looking for a better result for their efforts Saturday night after Friday’s tie with the visiting Bemidji State Beavers. After grabbing the early lead, the Huskies solved Jesse Wilkins just once more to leave the MacInnes Student Ice Arena with another 2-2 tie Saturday night.
Wilkins finished the night with 38 saves, giving him 74 for the weekend.
“He’s probably sitting at .950 saves percentage on the weekend,” said Beavers coach Tom Serratore. “You’ll take that any day of the week.”
Knowing that Friday’s first period was one they wanted to amend, the Beavers started out stronger on Saturday, getting the game’s first good scoring chances with a pair of wraparound attempts. Pheonix Copley was there both times to keep the puck out. He finished the night with 18 saves.
“Not much to choose between the two teams,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “We wanted more and thought maybe we deserved more, but at the same time I thought our players played hard.”
The Huskies (6-8-4 overall, 4-3-3 WCHA) got their skates underneath them a couple of minutes later and a long shift in the offensive zone led to the Huskies’ first tally.
Tanner Kero intercepted a clearing attempt at the Bemidji blue line. After making two strong dekes, Kero found himself alone in front of Wilkins, and the junior made one more move to beat the freshman at 6:14.
“The coaches say go to the net hard with the puck and good things will happen,” said Kero. “You try to do what you can do.”
The game remained in favor of the Huskies until a pair of penalties saw the teams playing four-on-four and Bemidji’s Phil Brewer found Mitch Cain busting up the ice. Cain got behind the Huskies’ defense, skated in alone and beat Copley with a backhand shot at 15:30.
The Beavers (5-8-5 overall, 5-4-3 WCHA) had a great chance to grab their first lead of the night just two minutes into the middle period when Phillip Marinaccio tipped a shot from captain Matt Prapavessis at the right point. Copley kept his eye on the redirection, however, making the stop look routine.
When the Huskies had their first good chance to regain the lead two minutes later, they did just that.
Alex Petan carried the puck in along the left boards before dropping it back for co-captain Brad Stebner. Stebner’s shot deflected off of a Beavers defender and past Wilkins at 4:10. C.J. Eick, who now has five points in his last four games, also assisted on the goal.
Danny Mattson had a great chance to even the game for the Beavers on a power play early in the third, but his rebound shot hit the side of the goal to Copley’s right.
Mattson got another opportunity to score four and a half minutes later, and this time, he did not miss, as he found the puck in the slot after Copley made the initial save on Brendan Harms. The goal, which came at 5:54, was also assisted by Ruslan Pedan.
“We needed somebody to step up,” said Serratore. “You are down, 2-1, you need somebody to step up.”
Neither team could get much going offensively in the extra session until the Huskies had a faceoff in the offensive zone with about 27 seconds left. Petan won the draw back to co-captain Blake Pietila, whose wrist shot was stopped by Wilkins. The rebound kicked right out in front of the net, but over Kero’s stick, nullifying the scoring chance.