Offensive outburst: Huskies sweep Nanooks 7-2 thanks to Gould’s hat trick
HOUGHTON — As junior winger Gavin Gould skated down the right side of the ice with the puck in the second period Saturday, he a goal in mind. He was looking for his third tally as he lined up a wrist shot and picked a spot over Alaska Nanooks goaltender Anton Martinsson’s left shoulder. Seconds later, he fired his shot, saw it hit twine, and erupted in celebration.
The Michigan Tech Huskies’ diminutive forward scored his third of three goals in the first 27:37 of the game to help the Huskies win, 7-2, and sweep the weekend series at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
When the dust settled, the Huskies finished their night with two power play goals, and three players, including Gould, who scored his second career hat trick, finished with three-point nights in the win.
“(This was) definitely a good offensive game,” said Gould. “Our power play has been struggling. We stepped up and did well tonight. It was a whole-team game, we were up 7-1 (near) the end of the game and guys were still blocking shots (and) still grinding and playing the right way. For the most part, we stuck to it.”
The offensive explosion Saturday was the most goals the Huskies had scored this season.
“I’ve had a little bit of a slower start, but we’re just trying to find the combinations that work,” said Gould. “You’ve got to stick to the just of it and just kind of keep going. I know I’ve been getting chances (that) just haven’t been going in and tonight they went in.”
Gould knocked a rebound home at 4:15 of the first period and then did so again in the second at 3:26 before his highlight reel-shot at 7:37 of the middle frame.
His third tally was followed just 1:22 later by freshman Brian Halonen’s second goal of the season, when skated out front from behind the net and buried a shot that seemed to surprise Martinsson.
“It was good,” said Huskies coach Joe Shawhan of his team’s offense. “Our guys came out and played hard. I thought, (in) every part of the game, we were good. I thought we were good defensively (and) offensively. Fairbanks came at us hard to start the game for sure. They have a lot of pride (and) talent in that group. Our guys matched that and were able to get some timely goals.
“Hopefully it was a good buy-in game for our team to understand how to be critical, attack the net, defend well and transition quickly. The power play got going pretty quickly tonight, so we’re happy with the effort all around for sure.”
The Huskies added a pair of power play tallies in the third off the sticks of junior center Alex Smith at 1:12 and co-captain Jake Lucchini at 4:59.
For Smith, the goal was his first of the season and 16th of his career.
“I thought we came out good,” said Smith. “We peppered them last night with shots and I thought we wanted to do that again tonight. I thought we accomplished that. I think we dominated the game and that’s ultimately what you want to do.”
Smith was happy to finally find the back of the net 12 games into the season.
“Whenever you’re struggling to get the first one out of the way, it feels good (to score),” said Smith. “It’s a little bit of a weight off of your back. Our power play was going tonight too, so we made a little bit of an adjustment and it worked out.”
Shawhan felt that his team was able to play the way they needed to to be successful.
“I think the big thing (Saturday) night is that the guys that we needed to come and play (did and) we got a great contributions from Gavin Gould, Lucchini, (and Alex Smith),” he said. “Smitty played, (and) got a nice goal for us on the power play. We need them to play well for us if we’re going to have long-range success and to play with the teams that we’re going to have to beat in this league, we need them to play well.”
The Huskies continued to keep the pressure on, even though they led 7-1, and were rewarded a final time when co-captain Dylan Steman attacked the net. Steman hit sophomore defenseman Tyler Rockwell with a pass in the slot. Rockwell’s initial shot was stopped, but he continued to drive the net and the rebound bounced off of him and past Gustav Grigals for his first career goal at 8:28.
Rockwell added two assists on the night for the best offensive night of his career.
“I saw a really nice 2-on-1,” he said. “Dylan just gave a really nice saucer pass right onto my stick. I don’t even know how it went in. I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best.”
The Huskies controlled the game from the opening faceoff and Rockwell felt that the team clicked in all facets.
“I thought we came out (and played) really hard, especially right off of the first shift,” Rockwell said. “We got the puck deep. I think the shots just speak for themselves since we got 60 shots on goal. It’s not every day that you get to do that, so I think with every goal we gained more momentum and the power play was (able to give us) even more momentum.”
NICE STREAK YOU HAVE THERE
With the win, the Huskies earned their 16th straight win against Alaska to improve to 7-5-0 overall and 6-0 in WCHA play. The Nanooks dropped to 2-10-2 overall and 2-5-1-1 in WCHA action.
CRAZY SHOT TOTALS
The Huskies fired 30 shots at Martinsson through 28:59 of play. They then fired another 30 at Grigals in 31:01 for a combined total of 60 shots on goal.
Junior Matt Jurusik made 27 saves on 29 shots for the Huskies.
LUCCHINI STILL HOT
With a goal and two assists, Lucchini remained on a hot streak. He has six goals and seven assists for 13 points in his last seven games, including three games with three points. Lucchini leads all Huskies with six goals and 16 points, and now sits just six points shy of 100 for his career.
Alaska 0 1 1 – 2
Michigan Tech 1 3 3 – 7
1, MTU, Gavin Gould, (Tyler Rockwell, Dylan Steman ), 4:15
2, UAF, Antti Virtanen, (Tyler Cline, Sam Ruffin, PP, 3:00
3, MTU, Gould (Raymond Brice, Zach Noble), 3:26
4, MTU, Gould (Jake Lucchini, Rockwell), 7:37
5, MTU, Brian Halonen, 8:59
6, MTU, Alex Smith (Lucchini),PP, 1:12
7, MTU, Lucchini (Seamus Donohue ),PP, 4:49
8, MTU, Rockwell (Dylan Steman), 8:28
9. UAF, Tristan Thompson (Colton Leiter, Steven Jandric), 13:17
UAF, Martinsson 20 6 0 – 26
Grigals 0 11 16 – 27
MTU, Jurusik 5 12 10 – 27
UAF: 1/4; MTU: 2/7
UAF: 12/35; MTU: 8/16