No. 13 Tech ties LSSU, wins shootout to take 2 WCHA points

Michigan Tech photo Michigan Tech’s Gavin Gould battles for possession with Lake Superior State’s Diego Cuglietta, Friday, in Sault Ste. Marie. Tech, LSSU tied 2-2 before Tech won the shootout to earn a conference point.

SAULT STE. MARIE — The No. 13-ranked Michigan Tech hockey team tied Lake Superior State, 2-2 Saturday night to remain unbeaten in the last 12 games against the Lakers. Jake Lucchini scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give Tech the extra WCHA point after a 5-on-5 overtime and a 3-on-3 overtime.

The Huskies are unbeaten in their last four games and are 3-1-1 overall and 1-0-1-1 in the WCHA. LSSU is 1-2-1 on the season and 0-1-1-0 in league play.

“I’m pleased with the work ethic and execution, so I can live with the result,” Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. “To get two points out of it is huge. We all know how important those points are at the end of the season.”

Tech fell behind 1-0 on a goal by J.T. Henke 8:30 into the game.

Joel L’Esperance tied it up just over 7:00 later on the power play, scoring his fourth of the season. Mark Auk fed it up the ice and L’Esperance made a beautiful move to get by his defender and roofed the puck into the back of the net. Mitch Reinke added the secondary assist.

Alex Gillies put Tech in front with 2:38 left on the first-period clock for his first of the season. His first shot was saved but he had two chances on the rebound and the third attempt made its way under LSSU goaltender Mareks Mitens. Seamus Donohue and Reinke assisted on the tally.

There wasn’t any scoring in the second period as the Huskies made a pair of defensive plays. Donohue lifted the stick of Diego Cuglietta 13:00 in at the front of the crease, and Patrick Munson tipped away a breakaway shot by Jake Hand 2:00 later.

LSSU thought they tied the game 4:11 into the third, but officials reviewed the play and saw that the puck hit the crossbar and then the post and never crossed the goal line.

The Huskies then killed off the first of two crucial 5-on-3 penalties in the third, before Anthony Nellis did knot it up at the 8:44 mark. He scored on a rebound from Henke and Kyle Chatham.

L’Esperance was looking for the game-winner with 7:00 left but his shot hit the post on a 2-on-1 with Jake Lucchini.

Both teams had power plays down the stretch. LSSU had 42 seconds of 5-on-3 that the Huskies killed off and then Tech had a power play with 3:39 remaining in regulation. Mitens stood tall down the stretch, finishing with 40 saves in the game.

“We had a pretty good penalty kill session before the game,” added Shawhan. “It’s a work in progress. We used a lot of guys in those situations, and I was really proud of the effort on that and that was what I told them after the game.”

In the first overtime, Raymond Brice had the best scoring chances. He had a quick shot as he spun around 2:00 in and then hit the post with 45 seconds left. Tech outshot LSSU 6-2 in the 5-on-5 frame.

L’Esperance drew a penalty as he was hooked on a breakaway during the 3-on-3. An LSSU defender covered the puck in the crease moments later resulting in a penalty shot for Tech. Auk patiently walked in and took backhand shot that was steered away by Mitens.

In the shootout, Reinke, Auk, and Jake Jackson all had attempts before Lucchini finally put a puck past Mitens in the fourth round. Max Humitz never got a shot off in the Lakers’ final attempt as Munson added two saves.

Tech outshot LSSU 42-25 with 17 in the first, nine in the second, 10 in the third and six in overtime.

LSSU was called for six minors and the Huskies five. Tech was 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.

The two teams will meet again on December 15-16 in Houghton. The Huskies host Alabama Huntsville in the home opener for the second year in a row next weekend (Oct. 20-21) at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.