Bittersweet ending

Conrad scores game-winner in overtime, Tech falls in GLI

Michigan Tech’s Joel L’Esperance (11), Mark Auk (12), Chris Leibinger (6), Shane Hanna (22), and Alex Smith (20) line up to attempt to block a shot by Western Michigan’s Cam Lee during a game Friday at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. The Huskies lost to the Broncos in the GLI Championship, 1-0, in overtime.

DETROIT — It took over 71 minutes, but the No. 16 Western Michigan Broncos took advantage of a faceoff to Michigan Tech Huskies’ goaltender Angus Redmond’s left and turned to an unlikely source in Colt Conrad to defeat the Huskies, 1-0, in overtime at the 52nd Great Lakes Invitational Friday night at the Joe Louis Arena.

Conrad took advantage of the Huskies’ defense’s attention to Broncos forward Wade Allison, and found a soft spot near the crease. Allison fed him the puck, and he fired a first shot that Redmond stopped before getting his own rebound and sneaking a backhand past Redmond at 11 minutes, 55 seconds of the extra session.

“It was a good hockey game, and that is what usually happens when you go into overtime,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “There’s going to be that bounce or that break and it’s tough. It’s unfortunate that someone has to lose this game. I thought we played hard.”

For the Huskies, the difference in the game was their power play. They were awarded a 5-on-3 for 1:57 late in the second period and a major in overtime, but were unable to score on either opportunity, finishing 0-for-5 on the night.

“We haven’t practiced a 5-on-3 for a month, a month-and-a-half,” said Pearson. “Of course you get one in a tournament like this. We slowed things down, but I think our power play was one of the keys tonight. We had some opportunities and we couldn’t finish.”

The Huskies dodged a bullet just 1:11 into the contest as it appeared that Wade Allison had given the Broncos the lead on a one-timer. He had gone to the net and was fed the puck from the left corner before beating Redmond with a quick shot. Fortunately for the Huskies, the Broncos were offsides coming into the zone originally, so after review, the goal was called back.

Michigan Tech’s penalty kill, which, coming into Friday night, had killed off 32 straight opponents’ power plays, continued that dominance four minutes later, as the Huskies held the Broncos to just one shot on their advantage.

Both teams played solid defense throughout the opening frame and as a result, the two teams combined for just eight shots on goal through the first 15 minutes of action. When all was said and done, the teams combined for 48 shots in the contest.

“There wasn’t a lot of time or space for either team,” said Pearson. “When you look at the shot totals, there weren’t many Grade ‘A’ scoring chances.”

Griffen Molino had the best scoring chance for either team with 3:40 left in the first period when he came off the bench and jumped out of the defensive zone and behind the Huskies’ defense, was sent a lead pass, and skated in alone on Redmond. The rookie stood his ground, making a difficult save look routine, something Redmond has done a lot since taking the reigns as the Huskies’ starting goaltender.

Redmond was challenged again with just over a minute-and-a-half left when Richard Zehnal cut behind the Huskies’ defense and deked to his backhand. Redmond tracked his movements and came up with the save.

“I told him I’d take him over any goalie, any day,” said Pearson about speaking with Redmond after the game. “He did a fantastic job.”

The Huskies’ first quality scoring chance of the game came early in the second period when winger Alex Gillies skated into the right circle and unleashed a high wrist shot that hit Broncos goaltender Ben Blacker up on the right shoulder and then bounced harmlessly off to his right, just beyond the reach of another Huskies’ forward.

The Huskies were whistled for too many men on the ice a little over two minutes later. Again they were able to keep the Broncos outside of the slot, taking away the majority of quality looks the Broncos — who came into the game with the third-best power play in the NCAA — are used to getting.

Finally earning their first power play 10:25 into the middle frame, the Huskies had some sustained pressure in the Broncos zone, but it was Western Michigan who had the best scoring chance when Frederik Tiffels got up quickly along with a linemate. Tiffels did not use his linemate, but instead hung onto the puck until he got in close and was able to try a backhand. His shot was stopped by Redmond.

The Huskies were awarded their second power play late in the second period when the Broncos were called for too many men. Then, 3 seconds later, center Jake Lucchini drew another penalty, giving the Huskies their lengthy 5-on-3 advantage. After Pearson used his

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timeout to discuss the advantage, Michigan Tech settled in, but it was the Broncos who came out on top by holding the Huskies from getting more than just a shot on goal during the advantage.

The Broncos’ Scott Moldenhauer cut in close to Redmond four-and-a-half minutes into the third period, but Redmond tracked the pass across to him and came out to cut down the angle.

As their fifth power play of the night came to a close, the Huskies had two good scoring chances. The first came from winger Joel L’Esperance, who fired a shot from the right circle that first hit Blacker then hit the right post behind him. The second came just after the advantage when Lucchini made a move to create some space just outside the crease, but his low shot was stopped by Blacker.

Just under six minutes into the overtime, Redmond got knocked down by Hugh McGing, but he still managed to get a piece of a shot by Corey Schueneman and kept it out by kicking his leg up to block the shot. Shortly after that save, Huskies winger Thomas Beretta jumped on a loose puck in the offensive zone before getting hit from behind by Taylor Fleming, drawing their major power play.

Defenseman Matt Roy took a penalty during the major power play, and during the ensuing 4-on-4, the Broncos had a quality scoring chance by Tiffels, but again Redmond was there to make the save.

ALMOST BOOKENDS: For Pearson, winning the GLI title in the final year the tournament at Joe Louis Arena would have carried with it very special meaning for the Huskies’ coach. Pearson scored the game-winning goal in triple overtime in the first GLI Championship played at “The Joe” back in 1979.

ALL-TOURNAMENT: Huskies’ captain Cliff Watson was the lone representative from Michigan Tech on the All-Tournament team.

FAMILIAR FOE: The last time these two teams met in the GLI Championship game, the Broncos won, 1-0, outdoors at Comerica Park in 2013.

INJURY BUG: Defenseman Mitch Reinke joined the growing ranks of key Huskies to miss time due to injury as he did not dress for the game Friday.

Scoring

Western Michigan  0  0  0  0 – 0

Michigan Tech  0  0  0  1 – 1

First period

None

Second period

None

Third period

None

Overtime

1, WMU – Colt Conrad (Wade Allison, Cam Lee), 11:55

Saves

WMU, Blacker  6  8  7  7 – 25

MTU, Redmond  7  4  7  2 – 23

Penalties

WMU: 6/25; MTU: 4/8

Power plays

WMU: 0/2; MTU: 0/5

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