HOUGHTON - Much has been made of Houghton's forwards, but Saturday's game was a chance for the Gremlins to put their best foot backward, particularly in goal.
Marcus Gloss made 29 saves as the Gremlins blanked Rochester United in a closer-than-it-appeared 5-0 decision.
"He was really on the puck, he seemed real sharp," Houghton coach Corey Markham said of Gloss, a junior.
"We haven't been tested a lot on our goaltending, and then when we were we gave up five to Cranbrook. We got outshot today, and we got solid goaltending and that's real nice to see."
Gloss's work and three goals from Ray Brice helped the Gremlins turn an off-day into a 5-0 win.
"We played OK, good enough to win. The bounces went in for us. Everything went in for us. The goalie came up huge today and that's really what won the game," Brice said.
Rochester U 0 0 0 - 0
Houghton 2 1 2 - 5
First period - 1, HOU - Jonathan Bostwick (Ray Brice, Connor Hannon), 13:24 (PP); 2, HOU - Brice (Spencer Donnelly).
Second period - 3, HOU - Brice (Casey Markham), 16:11.
Third period - 4, HOU - Reid Pietila (Hannon, Jed Kallio), 15:08; 5, HOU - Brice (Markham, Hannon), 16:24.
Power-play opportunities - Houghton 1-for-5; Rochester 0-for-2.
Penalties - Houghton 2/4; Rochester 5/10.
Goalie saves - RU, Kyler Patenaude 21 (14-5-2); HOU, Marcus Gloss 29 (4-13-12).
The Gremlins outshot the visiting Falcons 16-4 in the first 17 minutes, but much of that had to do with a pair of 5-on-3 power-plays, the first of which Jonathan Bostwick scored the game's opening goal on at 13:24.
Just 55 seconds before the end of the period, Brice notched his first of the game, shorthanded.
Rochester started turning the game territorially in the second, outshooting the Gremlins 13-6, but got nothing from it. Not only did Gloss stop an open breakaway (one of two he foiled on the day), but Houghton had the only goal of the frame, which Brice scored with his back to the goal after finding a loose puck in the left circle. Unbeknownst to him, the goaltender slid out of position making the initial save.
"I knew the net was right there and I had no idea what was going on behind me, so I just turned around and threw it and hoped it would go off a pad and it ended up in," he said.
The best goal of the game, however, went to Reid Pietila, whose laser off the crossbar was out of the net off the back bar as quickly as it was in.
"Reid just absolutely ripped the puck. It was in and out so quick, thank God the ref was in position," Markham said.
Brice finished off his hat trick barely a minute later.
"I though we made some good plays in the offensive zone that we ended up scoring on. I thought we were a little off today and we didn't have the same jump we normally have with our forwards. I don't know what it was," Markham said.
Gloss's performance was particularly important given how shorthanded Houghton currently is on the blue line. Though top pair defenseman Tristan Foltz returned this weekend after missing time with a broken bone in his hand, other injuries left Houghton with just four healthy D against the aggressive Falcons.
"They were letting me see all the shots, and they cleared my rebounds out and just played good in front of me," Gloss said.
Houghton, which has now played 158 consecutive scoreless minutes after three straight shutouts, goes for a fourth in a row Tuesday at home against Calumet.
"What I like most about today's win was I don't feel like we played our best and we still won, and got a shutout because of good goaltending," Markham said.