Huskies hockey earns split with key win Saturday over Falcons
HOUGHTON — Tied 2-2 in the third period Saturday, the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team found another gear when they needed it, and a late goal from freshman winger Isaac Gordon with 6:03 left in regulation, to earn a win over the Bowling Green State Falcons, 3-2, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
With the win, the Huskies improved to 7-7-3 overall, and 5-3 in CCHA play.
HUSKIES LATE SCORE TOPS FALCONS SATURDAY
The Huskies jumped out to a 2-0 lead Saturday, only to see the Falcons strike twice in just over a minute and a half to even the game prior to the third period. In the third, Gordon’s tip off a Tyrone Bronte shot proved to be the difference in the contest.
Gordon admitted to being tired as he was stuck nearly as far away from his team’s bench as he could be, but when the shot from Bronte, a senior forward, came near him, he just got enough of it with his stick to redirect it past Falcons goaltender Cole Moore.
“Overall, I think it was a very gritty game, just as last night,” he said. “I think we’re just a bit more prepared to battle. We battled it out and found a way to win.”
Michigan Tech played a strong first half of the game, and led 2-0 before Spencer Kersten took advantage of a puck that alternate captain Blake Pietila had placed in the corner to his left. Kersten’s shot back at Pietila hit him and bounced in at 8:01.
Brett Pfoh then evened the game 92 seconds later when Breck McKinley’s shot hit the boards behind Blake and bounced out front to Pfoh, who fired the puck and then got his own rebound and pushed it into the net at 10:33.
Despite that stretch, Huskies coach Joe Shawhan felt that his team did some good things throughout the game.
“I thought tonight was a really good hockey game,” he said. “What I watch, when the game’s on the line, is who performs at their best when their best is needed. I thought we did a pretty good (job in the) third period tonight. Got a big kill when we needed it, got a goal when we needed it. I thought we got effort from a lot of guys.”
From there, the Huskies needed a better third period, and they got it. After an early scoring chance for freshman winger Lauri Raiman, the Huskies had numerous looks around the net, but struggled to hit it until Bronte’s blast from near the right point.
Still, Shawhan was pleased with the overall effort in the period, despite the missed shots.
“It won a hockey game,” he said. “We got some good saves out of our goaltender in the third. Everybody stepped up to some degree.”
The Huskies scored the game’s first two goals. The first came off the stick of sophomore forward Kash Rasmussen at 15:51 of the first period. Senior defenseman Jed Pietila fed the puck across the rink to Rasmussen in the left circle and he beat Moore with a long wrister.
The second Huskies’ tally came four minutes into the second period. Sophomore defenseman Lachlan Getz wired a wrist shot from the right point that Moore stopped. Freshman center Max Koskipirtti crashed the net, and got to the rebound. His first attempt was stopped, but the second one got past Moore.
Alternate captain Ryland Mosley assisted on both goals.
“We’re growing,” he said. “We just need to find a way to win the greasy games, like last night. We thought we could have easily won that game, so we just have to find ways to keep on winning the games.”
Blake made 31 saves on 33 Falcons’ shots to earn the win.
HUSKIES FALL ON FRIDAY, 2-1, IN OT
The Huskies struck first, but could not build any momentum off of the goal in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Falcons Friday night.
Co-captain Logan Pietila scored the lone Huskies goal 10:56 into the second period in a game where Shawhan admitted afterwards he had not planned to play Logan as much as he did.
Shawhan was also very happy with the efforts of Logan’s twin brother, Blake, who stopped 28 of the Falcons’ 30 shots.
“I thought Logan and Blake played well,” said Shawhan. “Logan gave us way more minutes than I wanted him to. I would have liked that game to go a lot differently, so that we didn’t have to use him to the extent that we used him.
“I thought Logan and Blake were absolutely tremendous, far and away above many others.”
While alternate captain Ryland Mosley was working hard on the forecheck, the puck slid behind the Falcons’ net. Mosley was able to reach around a defender and push the puck to freshman winger Isaac Gordon, who turned and put the puck out in the slot. Logan stopped, turned, grabbed the puck, and quickly released a wrist shot for the goal.”
Normally, a goal like that in a 0-0 hockey game turns the momentum in the scoring team’s favor. However, Logan’s goal seemingly sparked the Falcons instead.
“We kind of sat back, took our foot off the gas a little bit, and that’s when they kind of started playing on our end,” he said. “(We) took a couple of penalties, (had some) good kills, but, yeah, we just couldn’t really bounce back and tilt the ice in our direction.
“We’ve (got to) come out hard, get more pucks towards the net, and just be stronger in the (offensive) zone.”
From that point forward, the Falcons put on a significant push. Things really ratcheted up once alternate captain Kyle Kukkonen was whistled for a penalty, putting the Falcons on the advantage. They kept pushing into the third period.
“I thought we started out well, and then I thought I didn’t think we played very well collectively,” said Shawhan. “It was a very hard game to coach on the bench. I felt a lot of negative emotion on the bench. The bench was very quiet, but I just felt things weren’t working for guys.”
In the third period, the Falcons kept pressuring, forcing the Huskies into little mistakes, but the more of them they had, the more opportunities the visitors received until Brandon Santa Juana got hold of a bouncing puck and wristed one from the high slot through traffic that beat Blake 3:54 into the period.
The game remained 1-1 through the end of regulation.
“It was a game where you had to enjoy the grind of it, and we didn’t enjoy the grind of it,” Shawhan said. “They took pucks from us. Our play in the offensive zone was very limited.
“They took the game over. Again, it wasn’t in a skill fashion. They just took pucks and forced turnovers.”
In overtime, the Huskies had a great scoring chance when a shot from Mosley was stopped by Falcons goaltender Cole Moore. The rebound bounced to Moore’s right and Huskies freshman defenseman Chase Pietila crashed in, but his look at an open net behind Moore hit the outside of the net, bounced off the boards behind the net, and then sprung the Falcons the other way on a 2-on-0.
Blake made the save on that rush, but a turnover at center ice came right back at him, and this time, Owen Ozar beat him with a wrist shot at 1:04.
The Huskies return home on Friday to face the Northern Michigan Wildcats for the first time. Opening faceoff is set for 7:07 p.m. at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Saturday, the two rivals will clash at the Berry Events Center in Marquette at 6:07 p.m.