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Huskies Hockey: No. 3 Mavericks win 2-1, sweep Tech

MTU's 6th loss in last 7; still winless at home

HOUGHTON — Michigan Tech’s offense finally showed, but in limited quantities of a 2-1 loss to No. 3 Minnesota State on Saturday.

The Mavericks’ win followed their 3-0 win Friday. Saturday was the Huskies’ sixth loss in seven games, and their fourth straight home loss.

The Huskies (3-6, 1-5 WCHA) finally scored on Minnesota State goaltender Dryden McKay, who had a 31-save shutout win Friday night, when Seamus Donohue tied the game at one in the second period.

Donohue’s goal was a brief reprieve from the Huskies’ scoring drought. But Tech never found the back of the net after that, despite hitting the post a few times, including a Trenton Bliss slap shot that grazed McKay’s right arm and ricocheted off the post.

Minnesota State anticipated a more aggressive Huskies push Saturday. Mavericks captain and center Marc Michaelis said the best defense was offense.

The Mavericks (8-1-1, 5-1) found it with a Charlie Gerard goal five minutes into the game for the early lead.

“We shut them out yesterday, so we kind of approached the game like we knew they were going to make a push,” Michaelis said. “The best defense against that is to make a push of ourselves. We came out like we’re on fire, had a good first five minutes and then fortunately took a 1-0 lead in the first period. It was a crazy bounce and then in the second period they tied it up and we stuck together. We’re fortunate to get Parker there with the game-winner.”

A stretch pass by Michaelis found Gerard as he came off the bench. He took the pass and cut to the net in front of Huskies freshman goaltender Blake Pietila, in his first-ever college start, and flipped the puck into the net.

Donohue’s unassisted tying goal came three minutes into the second period. The puck slipped into the high slot from a scrum in the corner. Donohue stepped up and snapped a wrister over McKay’s glove. It sparked the Huskies and helped them generate more offensive pressure, an area of focus by the team as it was outscored 14-5 in its previous losses.

But Tech didn’t find the net again. Minnesota State did.

The Mavericks took the lead for good when Parker Tuomie tipped a shot from the point by Edwin Hookenson. Tuomie took his own rebound and beat Pietila for the goal with three minutes left in the second. The goal was assisted by Hookenson and Dallas Gerads, a linemate with Michaelis and Gerard.

Gerard’s scoring opportunity was partly afforded by a mis-timed Huskies line change, the Tech defense caught watching the puck and Pietila perhaps too conservative as Gerard cut in front of the net.

“It’s off a bad change and like I said, once (Pietila) sees it on tape, he’ll want to poke-check in that situation,” Tech assistant coach Chris Brooks said. “We have dual responsibility in that situation. We didn’t help him in that situation either. Tough change and actually, paying too much attention to the puck in a non-critical situation, losing the battle and then that puck hitting the weak side of the ice. Real good start for (Pietila). I thought we had a lot of guys play really well tonight. (Brenden) Datema stepped in and took up some big minutes. I thought Bliss was very good and (Eric) Gotz was excellent. We just gotta continue to grow.”

Pietila said Gerard’s goal was one that he wanted back.

“Obviously a little nervous at first,” he said. “Then giving up the early goal, but then settled in and the guys did a great job helping me out, so it was fun. … I didn’t try to get down on myself, just regroup and get ready for the next shot.”

Pietila stopped 18 of 20 shots. He started the game with his identical twin brother Logan, who drew the opening face-off at center ice.

Donohue’s goal was the only blemish to McKay’s weekend in net for the Mavericks. He stopped 48 of 49 total shots combined on the weekend, including 17 of 18 on Saturday.

“He’s a calming force back there for us,” Minnesota State head coach Mike Hastings said. “He’s a guy that he makes it look easier than it is, just because of his positioning and where he puts pucks. He’s very good at controlling his rebounds. I just think he gives our team a little bit of confidence. We’re not afraid of giving up an opportunity because more often than not he’s gonna be there.”

It was Donohue’s first goal in 30 games, when he scored Dec. 8, 2018 against Northern Michigan.

Michaelis’ line with Gerard and Gerads combined for five points on the weekend. Gerads and Michaelis each had two assists along with Gerard’s goal.

“We have some good chemistry going with Dallas being a heavy guy (5-foot-10, 195 pounds), staying over pucks, Chuck with his speed and me with my playmaking ability,” Michaelis said. “We kind of know each other’s games really well so we go from there. We were pretty happy with the scoresheet tonight and got the job done for the Mavericks.”

Tech’s goal was the team’s first since Justin Misiak’s in the first period on Nov. 2 at North Dakota. The Huskies have been outscored 16-6 in their six losses this season including Saturday.

Brooks, who spoke to the media in place of absent head coach Joe Shawhan, said the team’s focus is on creating more offense.

“The shots (Friday) night were 31-31 with a lot of special teams,” he said. “(Saturday) they were 20-18, but we have to continue to make the most of our opportunities. All the scoring chances in that game tonight are probably less than 10 each team. Just gotta keep it simple and a lot of times for us it just comes down to winning battles and being hungry in those one-on-one situations.”

Tech sophomore Alec Broetzman took a shot off his right foot about midway through the third period and returned later in the game. Brooks said he appeared to be fine.

“He came back in the game. I think he recovered,” Brooks said. “He’s a pivotal player for us. To show the heart that he did, it was expected.”

Donohue said the losses are frustrating, but the team is focused on building from positives.

“I thought our effort was great,” he said. “We definitely stayed together and I thought our focus was better too. That was good, but it’s just frustrating when it’s not going our way. I thought our team defense was good, but we gotta find ways to put pucks in the net.”

The Huskies visit Lake Superior State on Friday and Saturday. Their next home game is Northern Michigan on Friday, Nov. 22.

MSU 1 1 0 –2

MTU 0 1 0 –1

First Period–1, MSU, Gerard (Michaelis), 4:55.

Second Period–2, MTU, Donohue, 3:04. 3, MSU, Tuomie (Hookenson, Gerads), 16:57. Penalties–MSU, Smith (cross-checking), 13:56. MTU, Lipe (holding), 5:28.

Third Period–Penalties–MTU, Donohue (hooking), 13:53. MSU, Gerard (interference), 13:57.

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