Michigan Tech tops No. 6 Minnesota Duluth in Ice Breaker title game
DULUTH, MN — Everyone reacts differently to pressure. On Saturday night, the Huskies did not lose their heads in a game where things did not go Michigan Tech’s way early.
Instead, the team was able to perform and pass their weekend test with flying colors, ending by throwing their sticks in the air in celebration.
Freshman forward Justin Misiak’s first collegiate goal proved to be the game winner as the Huskies upset No. 6 Minnesota Duluth 4-3 on their home ice to win the 2017 Ice Breaker Tournament and give the WCHA conference bragging rights.
It’s the team’s first victory in its first appearance in college hockey’s annual Ice Breaker Tournament, played between four schools in four different conferences.
“It feels unbelievable,” Misiak said after the win. “We know that we can obviously play with these guys and be a contender in the national tournament.”
Junior goaltender Patrick Munson, stopped 33 shots Saturday and finished the weekend with 68 total saves.
Michigan Tech’s night started from behind almost from the opening puck drop. UMD sophomore forward Riley Tufte needed 39 seconds to give Duluth a 1-0 lead, setting up shop in front of Munson and finding the net before some of the home fans could find their seats.
Minnesota Duluth held the visiting Huskies without a shot on Bulldogs goaltender Nick Deery for the game’s first 10 minutes while adding a goal by Nick Wolff.
“A couple early goals, there are worse things that can happen and you move on pretty quickly,” said Munson, who is finally playing after sitting out a year at Denver and transferring to Michigan Tech. “I think the guys here made it pretty easy on me. It’s been a long journey, but I’m happy where I’m at.”
Once Michigan Tech players got shots on goal, however, they found the back of the net. Holding a 1:31 two-man advantage, Mark Auk and Raymond Brice each scored power play goals to tie the game. For Brice, a sophomore from Houghton, it was his first collegiate goal.
The power play proved to be bountiful again for the Huskies in the second period. Gavin Gould crossed up Deery to give Michigan Tech its first lead of the night.
UMD defenseman Scott Perunovich scored a power play goal of his own 91 seconds later, but the tie lasted less than two minutes. Misiak joined the rush, creating an odd man rush and put home an Alex Smith pass to retake the lead. At the time of his goal, Michigan Tech had four goals on eight shots.
Throughout the night the Huskies relied upon Munson. He showed his might at the end of the first period, stopping Tufte on an opportunity similar to his goal, and again on a tip in front of the net in the third period. The defense also pulled their weight, according to their goalie.
“We have a lot of character in the room,” head coach Joe Shawhan said. “Last night Union gave us a really good push when we had a 4-1 lead in the third, scoring two in the first 10 minutes, and we battled back and really tightened it up after that. Then tonight to hold a team as scoreless as long as we did, giving up one goal in the last 50 minutes or so.
“There’s a lot of character within our locker room. It’s our job as a staff and as a team to cultivate that and nurture and grow it even stronger, to see where it will take us.”
Next, Tech heads to Lake Superior State for games on Friday and Saturday.