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No. 18 Huskies swept by Beavers, lose 3rd straight

Michigan Tech junior forward Trenton Bliss (23) battles for the puck against Bemidji State on Saturday, Feb. 20, 2021, in Houghton, Mich. (David Archambeau/For the Gazette)

HOUGHTON — The scoring rut has deepened.

No. 18 Michigan Tech got little scoring luck again as the Huskies lost its third straight game 2-1 to Bemidji State on Saturday.

The Huskies (14-8-1, 4-5 WCHA) were knocked back on their heels again, giving up the first goal for the third straight game in being swept by the Beavers.

In that same three-game stretch, Tech’s scoring production has dried up, despite outshooting opponents for the last five straight games. Tech outshot Bemidji State 34-16 Saturday.

But the Huskies have scored just three goals in its last 118 shots in the past three games.

Huskies head coach Joe Shawhan said one factor is the drought is that they’ve faced better defensive zone play from opponents.

“Those are all good defending teams against good goaltending and we scored one goaltending,” Shawhan said. “… Guys are getting shots from all of our lines, we’re getting contributions from all of our lines — we can’t score. It’s been a thing for a while. Another team doesn’t need as much to score.”

Not needing as much to score, because that’s the other half of Tech’s rut. Huskies opponents, by contrast, have scored nine goals in 60 shots over the past three games. Opponents have tripled Tech’s scoring production with just less than half the shots.

“We’re getting shots right in front of the goalie, we’re getting breakaways, we’re getting one-timers,” Shawhan said. “We’re doing everything we can do with guys that are working very hard.”

Some call it bad puck luck, but with the quick turnaround in a condensed season, the Huskies don’t have time to pray to the hockey gods. With Lake Superior State coming to town again Tuesday, Shawhan said they just have to hope the winds shift.

“We’re not doing anything different, we’re playing good hockey,” Shawhan said. “We can’t score — we don’t have the ability to score. You can’t criticize players, we are who we are. We’re playing good hockey and dominating flow. Teams are preparing for us and trying to defend knowing it’s difficult for us to score and trying to get one or two goals.”

Tech has also been hit with a rash of injuries. Huskies freshman Carson Bantle has been out with a shoulder injury. Greyson Reitmeier is also out with an injury. With the lines being shuffled to accomodate injuries, the scoring drought has been a double whammy.

Yet, Tech found strong chances Saturday, capped by junior Tommy Parrottino’s tying goal off a rebound six minutes into the third period, his fourth of the year. Senior Justin Misiak and junior defenseman Colin Swoyer assisted.

Freshman Ryland Mosley, in his ninth game, showed a nose for creating chances with a couple early chances in the first, including a backhand off a rebound that Beavers goalie Zach Driscoll had to stretch for a pad save.

The Beavers (9-6-3, 4-3-1) took the lead 11 minutes into the first period with a rush into the zone. A loose rebound at the top of the crease led to a scrum and the puck was mopped across the line as a couple players also fell into the net. The goal stood after a review for goalie interference. The goal was made all the more frustrating for the Huskies given that it was just one of six Beavers shots in the first.

Then, Bemidji State scored a go-ahead goal midway through the third, nearly four minutes after Parrottino’s. Junior center Ross Armour sniped a bar-down wrist shot on the short-side, over Tech goalie Mark Sinclair’s left shoulder.

The Beavers goal was one of just three shots they put on Sinclair in the third period.

Sinclair ended the night with 14 saves and has a 3-3-1 record on the season. Driscoll made 33 saves for his eighth win of the year.

The season was condensed after a late start and games have been rescheduled as teams have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Playing games with less time off means the game schedule resembles the break-neck pace of a professional hockey season.

Parrottino said the quicker pace of the season, with playing their fourth upcoming Tuesday game, has been a new adjustment.

“It’s tough on the body, but it’s a pro style and it’s pretty fun to get all these games in a short period of time after we missed so many beginning of the year,” Parrottino said. “I think you get more of a momentum based game and you kind of get into these momentum. We don’t really have time to practice and compete in practice since we’re in a quick turnaround, but I think it helps gameplay and playing in tight games like that.”

Fan interaction

The student section contingent of the 300 fans in attendance were vocal.

When Huskies freshman Arvid Caderoth went to the box for a cross-checking and BSU’s Alex Ierullo was called for holding, there was a moment when the arena went silent enough for fans to hear Beavers head coach Tom Serratore asking the referees if Caderoth would get a double-minor for the cross-check. A large contingent of fans on the opposite side replied with a resounding “No.”

Friday

The Huskies fired 48 shots at Driscoll on Friday, but only found the back of the net once, losing 4-1 to the Beavers.

The Huskies’ lone goal came off the stick of sophomore winger Tristan Ashbrook, who buried a pass from freshman center Nick Nardella in the net at 13:12 of the second.

The Beavers broke a 1-1 tie with two goals in 46 seconds in the third to pull away before adding one more late to seal the win.

Sophomore goaltender Blake Pietila made 21 saves in the loss.

Michigan Tech hosts Lake Superior State at 2:07 p.m. Tuesday.

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