Michigan Tech defeats NMU 4-1 for 1st win in last 5 games
HOUGHTON — Jake Lucchini found himself in a tough spot on the right side of the ice with 7:01 left in the second period. Surrounded by two Northern Michigan defenders, the junior managed to escape by connecting a pass to Gavin Gould, who found the back of the net for Tech’s third goal of the game.
Gould threw his fist in the air to celebrate, skated on one foot to the glass where he was greeted by enthusiastic Husky fans.
Celebrating Huskies and screaming fans were a common sight as Tech (5-5-2, 3-4-2 WCHA) cruised to a 4-1 win over the No. 20 Northern Michigan Wildcats (5-4, 3-2 WCHA) on Friday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena in Houghton.
The team was in dire need of a no-doubt-about-it win after sputtering in its last five contests, going 0-4-1.
“With where we were at as a team, going five games without a win, this one is huge for us,” Tech senior captain Brent Baltus said. “It feels great to get a win, especially against that team in our home rink.”
At 8:26 in the first, the Huskies connected on the kind of “gritty” goal that Tech head coach Joe Shawhan has been waiting for.
Freshman center Greyson Reitmeier managed to poke the puck away from the NMU defense. It ricocheted back to winger Raymond Brice who was skating for the net, and the sophomore put it home.
Shawhan has spent the last few weeks imploring his team to be aggressive on the offensive attack. This time, he finally liked what he saw.
“I thought we got a lot of chances around the net,” he said. “Northern plays a physical game and I thought we spent our time in hard ice. I think it paid off.”
Tech outshot NMU 32-21.
A few minutes after Brice’s goal, the Huskies struck again. Troy Loggins collided with Tech’s Patrick Munson in the net, resulting in a delayed penalty for charging. Tech pulled Munson in favor of another attacker, and it did the trick. Keegan Ford lined up a shot that bounced off NMU’s goalie, Mathias Israelsson, and onto the stick of Baltus. He made the most of it for his first goal of the season.
Then came Gould’s goal — his sixth of the season — and another by Baltus in the second period. He lined up a shot from the blue line, right next to the Tech bench, and connected for his 20th goal in gold and black.
NMU didn’t score until freshman Seamus Donahue was whistled for hooking at 13:42 in the second period. Munson started the power play by snagging a Philip Beaulieu shot out of mid-air, but moments later, Joseph Nardi scored with 53 seconds left on the penalty clock.
Tech didn’t record a penalty in the first period but had four in the second. The Huskies were able to kill the other three NMU power plays.
“We didn’t give them a ton to work with and our clears were much better tonight,” Shawhan said. “We didn’t spend as much time in the zone as we have been.
Munson bounced back from the Wildcats’ lone goal, getting two saves on the next NMU power play to help Tech stop the attack.
“We still had to kill a few after that and it could have easily gone to 4-2, then it is anybody’s game going into the third period,” Shawhan said. “I liked the way we finished the game tonight. I thought we took what they gave us, and from the bench, it felt like we got stronger as the game went on.”
Munson made his ninth start of the season after Devin Kero was in the net for Tech’s last two matchups. He had 20 saves in the game, including 12 in the second period when the Wildcat’s put together a string of solid power-play attacks.
“His rebound control was excellent, his squareness on the shot was excellent, he made timely saves early while we were getting going,” Shawhan said. “He gave us a chance to get rolling a little bit and he got in there and handled the puck well.”
This was the 144th contest between Tech and NMU with the Wildcats leading 70-61-14 overall. The Huskies have won nine of the last 11.
Tech goes on the road tonight for another rivalry matchup with NMU at 7 p.m. at the Berry Events Center in Marquette.
– – –
Northern Michigan 0 1 0 – 1
Michigan Tech 2 2 0 – 4
Tech- Raymond Brice (Greyson Reitmeier), 11:34, 1-0.
Tech – Brent Baltus (Keegan Ford, Alex Smith), 16:46, 2-0.
Tech – Gavin Gould (Jake Lucchini), 7:01, 3-0.
Tech- Baltus (Jake Jackson, Smith), 9:40, 4-0.
NMU- Joseph Nardi (Jordan Kilimek, Ryan Black), 14:49, 4-1.
NMU, Mathias Israelsson 8 7 13 – 28.
Tech, Patrick Munson 4 12 4 – 20.
NMU: 7/14; Tech: 5/10.
NMU: 1/4; Tech 0/6.