Tech’s 9 seniors enjoy win over Northern in last home game

Michigan Tech’s Devin Kero makes a save against Northern Michigan’s Denver Pierce Saturday at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. (David Archambeau/Daliy Mining Gazette)

By EDEN LAASE

elaase@miningazette.com

HOUGHTON — The parking lot was packed and nearly every seat had a butt in it. Black and gold apparel filled the stands, with green and yellow peppered throughout the crowd. The 4,117 in attendance knew that when Northern Michigan and Michigan Tech face off, it’s a can’t-miss affair. So with tickets in their hands and hockey on their minds, Husky and Wildcat faithful alike poured into the MacInnes Student Ice Arena for Saturday’s senior night contest.

It lived up to its reputation.

But Tech fans left a little happier as the Huskies came away with a 3-2 win.

“Any time you play against Northern, you know it is going to be a battle,” senior captain Brent Baltus said. “Obviously, playing one more time at the Mac, this is such a special place to play. The support we get from the community, the school, the fans and just the energy in the rink is pretty special.”

Of course, no game is perfect, and this time the problem was that no team showed up for a full contest, at least offensively.

The first period was all NMU as it took a 2-0 lead. The second was all Tech, and the Huskies bounced back by scoring three straight goals for a 3-2 advantage going into the third.

The Huskies weren’t around for the first and the Wildcats never showed up for the second, but special teams play was present the entire game. All five of the game’s goals came on the power play.

“That will happen from time to time,” NMU coach Grant Potulny said. “Tonight both team’s played such good defense that there weren’t a lot of five-on-five opportunities. It was just one of those games, and in rivalry games sometimes that is how it goes.”

So after two periods, the game came down to which team would control the third.

And when it really counted, Tech showed up and NMU didn’t. With 6:45 to play, Greyson Reitmeier was called for the game’s biggest penalty, giving NMU a five-minute power play.

When Devin Kero looked up at the scoreboard and saw the red 5:00 appear, he knew he was in for a grind. Two power-play goals had already gone past him, but Kero refused to lose on senior night.

“It is not ideal,” he said. “The moment that 5-minute goes up there it is not something you want to do, but you have to bear down and take it one shot at a time. You try and kill as much off as you can in chunks, and the guys did a really good job blocking shots and getting dumps when we needed to.”

The goaltender had three massive saves during the power play to secure the win — he had 17 on the game. It was arguably Tech’s best kill of the season.

“What a great effort,” Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. “We blocked shots and Devin made some great saves. He is getting better and better. He swallowed pucks, kept them off the rebounds and did a great job.”

Tech has been extremely successful on the penalty kill as of late, only giving up two power-play goals in the last six games.

But on Saturday, NMU went 2 for 3 on the power play in the first period.

The first came after Reitmeier was whistled for tripping at the 9:01 mark. Seamus Donohue laid out and blocked NMU’s first shot attempt, but the Wildcats were patient, and reset their attack.

Then, Troy Loggins fired a shot from outside the face-off circle. It snaked through the Tech defense and past Kero for a 1-0 lead.

NMU took a 2-0 lead before the period was out when Denver Pierce scored the Wildcats’ second-power goal of the game. Philip Beaulieu took a shot from the outside that ricocheted off Pierce and over the shoulder of Kero.

The Wildcats were incredibly efficient with their chances in the first period. They only had eight shots on goal, but they made the most of their opportunities.

“It really wasn’t much different than in the other two periods,” Potulny said of why NMU had success scoring in the first. “Sometimes you get the bounces, and at the end of the game we weren’t able to get that one bounce to get the puck through.”

Tech wasn’t the only team struggling to kill the man-advantage. Luckily for the Huskies, NMU couldn’t stop the power play either, and by the 11:15 mark in the second period, Tech had evened the score on two power-play goals of its own.

Baltus scored the first for his 11th goal of the season, and Jake Lucchini knotted the score at 2 with the second goal.

Then, with 7:57 left in the frame, Demico Hannoun was called for elbowing and game misconduct, a five-minute major.

Just like on four previous penalties, this one resulted in a goal. Donohue scored his third goal of the season and gave Tech what would be the game-winning goal.

Tech owned a 35-19 shot advantage in the game.

Next up, Tech will play at Bemidji State on Friday for the WCHA quarterfinals. The winner of the best-of-three series advances, while the loser will be eliminated.

– – –

NMU 2 0 0 — 2

Tech 0 3 0 — 3

First period

NMU — PP – Trey Loggins (Phillip Beaulieu, Adam Rockwood), 11:51, 1-0

NMU — PP – Denver Pierce (Phillipe Beaulieu, Trey Loggins), 17:28, 2-0

Second period 

Tech — PP – Brent Baltus (Dane Birks, Greyson Reitmeier), 2-1, 4:01

Tech — PP – Jake Lucchini (Seamus Donohue, Mark Auk), 2-2, 8:45

Tech — PP – Justin Misiak (Seamus Donohue, Mark Auk), 3-2, 13:09

Third period

None

Saves

NMU: Atte Tolvanen 33; Tech: Devin Kero 27

Penalties 

NMU: 5/21; Tech: 6/23

Power plays

NMU: 2/5; Tech: 3/5

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