College Hockey: Smith’s OT goal lifts Huskies over Lakers
HOUGHTON — Senior center and co-captain Alex Smith closed the curtains on his Winter Carnival career with an overtime goal to lead Michigan Tech in a 4-3 win over Lake Superior State on Saturday.
And the win to salvage a weekend split came as a great relief to the Huskies (16-14-3, 11-11-2 WCHA) after a 7-3 loss to the Lakers on Friday.
The Lakers (9-20-3, 7-12-3-3) won the total goal series 10-7 for the MacInnes Trophy, awarded to each year’s Winter Carnival champion.
Tech sophomore right wing Brian Halonen was named Winter Carnival MVP after posting two goals and two assists on the weekend. He had both goals and an assist in Saturday’s win and now has 12 goals on the year.
“It’s certainly a relief. We need these points. They’re huge points,” Halonen said. “We still think we have a chance to get home ice. We need to play well down the stretch. That’s all we can do is give our best effort every night and give ourselves the best chance at home ice.”
Both teams alternated goals all night. The Huskies came out strong when Halonen scored 45 seconds into the game. But the Lakers never let Tech too much slack as they tied it three minutes later with a goal by sophomore right wing Ashton Calder.
The Huskies took a 2-1 lead with Halonen’s second goal and the Lakers tied it 15 seconds after, a goal by Brenden McKay. Sophomore left wing Alec Broetzman gave Tech its third lead of the game and Lake Superior State sophomore left wing Pete Veillette tied it three minutes later, with 45 seconds remaining in the game and bringing a hush to the crowd of 3,385.
On Smith’s overtime goal with 30 seconds remaining, Broetzman carried the puck through the center of the ice into the Lakers’ zone with Halonen to his left and defenseman Seamus Donohue to the right. Broetzman passed to Halonen, who stayed wide over the face-off dot, and finally passed across to Smith, who trailed in Donohue’s place. Smith let go a quick one-timer snap shot from between the hash marks that easily beat Lakers goalie Mareks Mitens. It was Smith’s fifth goal of the season.
“Needed it. We needed it. That’s a great way for Smitty to end his Winter Carnival time here at Michigan Tech,” Shawhan said. “We need them to keep growing and growing and growing. That leadership is so vital. That sets the tempo with expectations.”
The Huskies’ first line of Smith, Halonen and Broetzman each scored three points in Saturday’s win. It was the kind of line production that has been missing for Tech this season. It’s the second time since the new year, 12 games, that the Huskies scored four goals in a game.
“It’s a good bounce back,” Huskies head coach Joe Shawhan said. “Smitty’s line did an outstanding job, I think they were in on all the goals. They did an excellent job.”
Lakers head coach Damon Whitten, a former four-year assistant at Michigan Tech, said winning the MacInnes Trophy was an honor.
“It kind of struck me coming into the weekend is (Michigan Tech has) 99 years of hockey, an unbelievable history and tradition, the MacInnes family name not only at Michigan Tech but college hockey is just an incredible name,” Whitten said. “I’ve got ties to (Ron) Mason and (Red) Berenson, some very historic coaches and in the time here learning about John and knowing his family, it’s really special. Our guys are a little too young to maybe appreciate that history, but that’s a big deal to win that and what the MacInnes name means to college hockey.”
Shawhan started junior goaltender Robbie Beydoun on Saturday. It was Beydoun’s first time in a game since Nov. 8 against Minnesota State. Senior goalie Matt Jurusik, who started in Friday’s loss, was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Beydoun moved efficiently in the crease, controlled the majority of his rebounds and came out of his net to challenge shooters. In overtime, it almost cost him when Lakers’ leading scorer Max Humitz picked up a defensive zone turnover and fired a wrist shot that Beydoun came way out to challenge. The puck deflected to his left, Humitz streaked in and backhanded the puck just over the gaping net.
Beydoun made 39 saves in the win, his first since a 4-2 win on Oct. 26 at Bowling Green.
“Obviously feels really good. It was a nice bounce back from (Friday) night,” Beydoun said. “We battled back a few times in this game too. It was nice getting in there and getting into a game. This can be a turning point for us heading into the playoffs.
“I felt pretty good honestly. When you don’t play for a while, it’s easy to make an excuse, ‘I haven’t played in three months’ or whatever it’s been and ‘it’s going to be tough to get adjusted.’ Honestly I just looked at it as I’m fresh, my body’s feeling pretty good, had some time to develop my game. I had some time to get some extra reps in practice and I feel stronger than ever now.”
Shawhan said Beydoun played a strong game.
“Outstanding young man. When we protect him a little bit and when he can see the puck, he’s usually going to stop it,” Shawhan said. “It’s when we give up odd-man rushes on any goalie that some holes open up on a goalie his size and things. Couldn’t have asked for more.”
Humitz had hit the post late in the third for a would-be winning goal. Whitten said he likes the game riding in the senior’s hands.
“I told our radio guy that if you tell me the game’s on the line with the puck on Max Humitz’s stick, I feel pretty good about it,” Whitten said. “He really puts a lot on himself to carry this team. It was unfortunate he hit a post and then he had a great shot on the rush.”
Mitens finished with 26 saves.
Whitten also said it’s emotional for him returning to Michigan Tech, where he was an assistant for then-coach Mel Pearson.
“A lot of great relationships here, not only from the players, but in this building, in this community,” he said. “It’s hard emotionally. You’re trying to focus on the game. You have some old friends you want to see. There’s a lot of things when you come back to these old places.
“I’m sure it’s like coach Shawhan going back to Sault Ste. Marie,” Whitten said of Shawhan’s playing career at Lake Superior State and as coach of the Soo Indians. “You don’t get much down time, you have to focus on the games and concentrate on your team. It’s a moment to appreciate what this great game of hockey means to all of us. I had a lot of fun seeing old friends and colleagues, driving by the old house and being back in MacInnes Ice Arena.”
Lake Superior State 0 2 1 0 — 3
Michigan Tech 1 2 0 1 — 4
First Period–1, MTU, Halonen (Smith, Gotz), 0:45. Penalties–LSSU, Henrikson (interference), 16:14.
Second Period–2, LSSU, Calder (Mucha, Riedell), 3:38. 3, MTU, Halonen (Smith, Broetzman), 14:53. 4, LSSU, McKay (Basilico, Gamelin), 15:08. 5, MTU, Broetzman (Saretsky, Ganie), 16:17.
Third Period–6, LSSU, Veillette (Calder, Kaelble), 19:16. Penalties–MTU, Halonen (high-sticking), 15:46.
Overtime–7, MTU, Smith (Halonen, Broetzman) Penalties–LSSU, Anderson (cross-checking), 1:51.
Shots on Goal–LSSU 14-12-13-3–42. MTU 4-12-11-3–30.
Power-play Opportunities–LSSU 0 of 2. MTU 0 of 2.
Goalies–LSSU, Mitens 3-10-11-2–26. MTU, Beydoun 14-10-12-3–39.
Penalties-minutes–LSSU 2-4. MTU 2-4.
Referees–Robert Lukkason, Brady Johnson. Linesmen–Jamie Grace, Eric Froberg.