Tech defeats Bowling Green in double OT thriller for WCHA title
Shane Hanna delivers in the clutch for Tech
HOUGHTON — When Michigan Tech assistant captain Shane Hanna received a lead pass in double overtime from defenseman Matt Roy, coach Mel Pearson had no idea what his senior defenseman was doing at the offensive blue line during a 4-on-4 situation. Hanna showed seconds later why he was there.
Hanna, who had gotten behind a No. 4 Bowling Green State Falcons’ defender, skated into the high slot and buried a wrist shot over the right shoulder of goaltender Chris Nell to give the No. 2 Huskies a 3-2 victory over the Falcons 6 minutes, 35 seconds into the second overtime of Saturday night’s WCHA Championship game.
The Huskies earned the WCHA’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament with the victory. They will travel to Cincinnati to face off against the No. 1 overall seed, the Denver Pioneers at 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“He’s a defenseman,” said Pearson. “What a goal. I don’t know what he is doing up there at the blue line, but I am not going to ask him.”
Hanna’s goal sent the majority of the 4,466 fans in attendance into a frenzy with the tally.
“We had good control of it, and I saw they were changing, so I just hopped up,” said Hanna. “[I was waiting] for something to happen, and Matt [Roy] found me like he usually does in practice.”
What made Hanna’s goal even more impressive was the fact that he sat out the first overtime with an injury and would not have played in the second had this not been the title game.
“If it was a normal game, he would not have played,” said Pearson. “I will tell you, he’s a tough, tough individual.”
For all the heroics of Hanna, the game almost did not get to that point.
After getting outshot in the third period, 11-2, and surrendering two goals in 24 seconds, the Huskies knew they had to be better in the extra session. The first WCHA championship to be played on a campus site at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena had plenty of excitement in that first overtime.
The Huskies had numerous good scoring chances before center Alex Smith had likely the best one when he beat Nell with a wrist shot with just 4:50 left; however, he did not beat the crossbar.
The Falcons had a glorious chance of their own when winger Lukas Craggs beat Huskies goaltender Angus Redmond with 7.1 seconds left in the same overtime — but he hit the far post rather than the netting.
The Falcons, who had worked so hard to force the overtimes, struggled with the typical problems that normally beset teams in multiple overtime games.
“We had tons of guys who were cramping up,” said Falcons captain Sean Walker. “So the pace definitely slowed down.”
As the Falcons slowed, the Huskies got stronger. They combined to outshoot the Falcons 13-9 in the extra sessions.
A tight game that featured just 14 shots combined between the two teams in the first period opened up a bit late in the period as the Huskies dominated the final 2:33 of the opening frame, forcing the Falcons to take a penalty. While the Huskies did not score on the advantage, they carried the momentum they gained into the second period and were rewarded when space opened up for winger Alex Gillies.
Gilies jumped on a loose puck in the offensive zone and drove around a Falcons defender to the net. Having run out of room to shoot, he fed the puck into the slot, where winger Joel L’Esperance outmuscled Falcons winger Shane Bednard for position in front of the net and redirected the pass past Nell at 4:56.
The goal settled the Huskies down.
“I think it helped to score that goal,” said L’Esperance. “I think everybody kind of relaxed a little bit and started to play their game after that.”
Tech kept the pressure on, and about 7 1/2 minutes later, they were rewarded with a second goal.
Winger Jake Jackson attempted to feed the puck to Hanna on the back door during a 4-on-4 situation. When his attempt was blocked, Jackson alertly picked the puck back up, faked a shot to freeze another defender and Nell, and then beat the Falcons netminder with a wrist shot at 12:25.
“On that one, I was actually trying to pass it back door to Hanna there,” said Jackson. “It went in and hit their guys’ skates and they fell into each other. Their [defenseman] came out and was going to block the shot, so I faked it and just went around him. I didn’t see that the goalie bite so hard on the fake shot.”
Jackson’s goal was his team-leading fourth of the playoffs.
Despite falling into a 2-0 hole, Bowling Green remained resilient and was rewarded with quick tallies from winger Joe McKeown and assistant captain Matt Pohlkamp in the third to even things up in a 24-second span.
“I am extremely proud of our guys,” said Falcons coach Chris Bergeron. “To go down 2-0 in this building and to find a way to keep fighting, that resiliency didn’t show itself enough this year.”
McKeown’s goal came on a rebound at 6:36 when he found a way to get a third attempt up and over Redmond. Pohlkamp’s came just 24 seconds later on a miscue by Redmond behind his own goal.
Bowling Green 0 0 2 0 0 – 2
Michigan Tech 0 2 0 0 1 – 3
1, MTU, Joel L’Esperance (Alex Gillies), 4:53
2, MTU, Jake Jackson (Michael Neville, Shane Hanna), 12:25
3, BGSU, Joe McKeown (Alec Rauhauser, Tyler Spezia), 6:36
4, BGSU, Matt Pohlkamp, 7:00
5, MTU, Hanna (Matt Roy), 6:35
BGSU, Nell 8 5 2 10 2 – 27
MTU, Redmond 6 12 9 7 2 – 36
BGSU: 3/6; MTU: 3/6
BGSU: 0/1; MTU: 0/1