Here are my three takeaways (from afar) from Michigan Tech’s 3-2 victory over Bowling Green in the WCHA title game.
1. Instant classic
Maybe it’s cliche, but that’s the only way to describe this game. It was the first overtime game in the WCHA championship since North Dakota defeated Denver 3-2 in OT in 2001. Like that game, this one didn’t disappoint. Tech had a 2-0 lead going into the third period, but the Falcons made it a game with back-t0-back goals midway through the final frame. BG actually dominated the third period, outshooting Tech 11-2, and held the Huskies to without a shot on goal until there were 3:34 to play. However, Tech survived to take it into overtime, and from there it was an entertaining, back-and-forth game, with both teams getting chances to win. The Falcons nearly scored with seconds left in the first overtime period on three point-blank scores but Angus Redmond closed the door. That opened the door for Shane Hanna in the second overtime. Matt Roy found Hanna open with an outstanding outlet pass from blue-line to blue line. The defenseman buried it past Chris Nell for the win.
2. Grade A ‘Beef’
Redmond, the Huskies freshman goaltender, made 36 saves to help backstop Tech’s win. The two goals he gave up didn’t look great — the game-tying goal from Matt Pohlkamp, especially, he’ll want back after watching the video — but overall he made the saves he needed to get the win. The best might have been a glove save on Pohlkamp with eight minutes left in the first OT. If Redmond is playing like he was in the first two periods (and two overtimes), the Huskies will be a tough out for any potential No. 1 seed.
3. Home site playoffs a big win
This game is exactly what the WCHA had in mind when they decided to go to home sites for the first round of the playoffs this season — an engaged home crowd, packed to the rafters in a classic rink, on the edge of their seats with every play. Tech students camped out before the game and the line stretched all the way around the arena. Even BG brought a strong contingent of fans. Attendance was announced at 4,466. For comparison’s sake: 4,080 watched last year’s Final Five title game at a neutral site in Grand Rapids, Mich. Another comparison: Today’s Atlantic Hockey finals had a total of 650 fans watch Air Force beat Robert Morris in the finals. Say what you will about the WCHA, but from a “fan engagement” standpoint, moving the title game to home sites was a home run.