HOUGHTON, Mich. — If there is much that separates No. 1 Michigan Tech and No. 9 Minnesota State, is was not apparent in the Friday night matchup between the two squads at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
An early second period goal gave the Huskies a 1-0 lead, but two goals in 24 seconds gave the Mavericks the win.
Mavericks’ co-captain Brett Stern tied the game at 11:58 with a wicked wrist shot off a pass from Teddy Blueger.
Dylan Margonari was credited with the game-winning goal at 12:22 of the third after he crashed the net. A pass in front hit him before finding its way through MTU goalie Jamie Phillips and in.
“I don’t know if anybody feels like they are going to get one by him,” said Mavericks’ coach Mike Hastings. “You just got to stay at it.”
The Mavericks (8-3-0 overall, 6-1-0 WCHA) had the bulk of the early scoring chances, but Phillips was equal to the task, making nine saves.
It took the visitors just over four minutes to get some sustained pressure through to Phillips. Bryce Gervais had a backhand chance in close, but Phillips threw his left leg out to make the save.
Off the ensuing faceoff, Matt Leitner fed Jean-Paul Lafontaine with a long pass in the slot, but his shot was also stopped.
Phillips made two more stops on Lafontaine with about six minutes left in the opening frame.
“I thought both goaltenders were outstanding tonight,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “I thought our team competed hard, but I thought some guys had an off night.”
It was going to take a quick tally from one of these two teams to get that precious lead. Alex Petan snatched up a rebound and beat Stephon Williams with a wrister just 1:05 into the second period. The goal was assisted by co-captain Tanner Kero, who fired the first shot.
After the Huskies (10-1-0 overall, 8-1-0 WCHA) took the lead, the Mavericks started to panic and make bad passes for the next five minutes. This gave the Huskies time to get into passing lanes and cause problems for the visitors shift after shift.
The hard work by the hosts nearly resulted in a second goal when co-captain Blake Pietila found Brent Baltus crashing the net. Williams was there to make one of his 30 saves on the play.
At about the midway point, the Mavericks started to get some sustained pressure on Phillips again. Zach Stepan had two chances in close to Phillips (32 saves), but neither got past an outstretched leg pad.
Phillips’ biggest save of the night came during a four-on-four situation, when Zach Palmquist cut in from the left point and tied to deke. His shot sailed over the as Phillips did not give him much room to shoot.
“We’re relying way too much on Jamie Phillips,” said Pearson. “He was outstanding tonight [and] we have to tighten up defensively.”
The third period saw the Mavericks push the pace of the game and get even more pucks through to Phillips. Co-captain Chase Grant had a pair of scoring chances just over a minute into the frame.
Stern had a long shot through traffic that Phillips stopped five minutes later.
An attempted feed in the slot in front of Phillips hit Kero before the Huskies’ goaltender gloved it.
Max Gaede got loose and skated in alone on Phillips, but he gloved the high shot.
With Phillips pulled late, the Huskies got three scoring chances that nearly found daylight. The first from Kero, who hit the side of the net. Pietila then twice tipped shots, but Williams made both stops.