Slow start costs Huskies against Duluth

HOUGHTON, Mich. – Goaltender Jamie Phillips had a career-high 38 saves on Friday (Dec. 12) night, but No. 9 Minnesota Duluth jumped out to a 2-0 lead on No. 4 Michigan Tech and held on to defeat the Huskies 3-1 at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Tech falls to 12-3-0 on the season.

“Duluth played a heck of a game,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “You can see why they are a top-ranked team. They skate well, play the game the right way and got good goaltending tonight.

“We didn’t start the game very well. They had a little bit of jump and took advantage of the early power play. Having said that, we were better in the second half of the game. We have to play with that urgency and emotion to start the game.”

Down 2-0 entering the third period, the home team came out with a burst of energy. Alex Petan and Blake Pietila connected on a pass out front of UMD goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo early in the frame but the one-timed blast went high.

Dylan Steman finally got the Huskies on the board to makHue it 2-1 with a tip-in goal out front of Kaskisuo 6:16 into the third. Like Steman’s first career goal at Lake Superior State, Cliff Watson took the initial shot from the blue line and number eight redirected it. CJ Eick picked up the secondary assist.

Moments later, and with momentum and the crowd of 3,250 in favor of the Huskies, Tanner Kero broke in on a partial breakaway. A Bulldog defender got back and slid down in front before Kero could get a clean shot off.

Dominic Toninato made it a two-goal game again with a breakaway goal 11:18 into the third. Adam Krause and Alex Iafallo assisted on the play.

Tech had a few chances late and controlled much of the play in the final four minutes but Kaskisuo kept the puck out of the net, stopping nine of his 25 shots in the third period.

The Petan, Pietila, Reid Sturos line had a scoring chance early in the game, but the Bulldogs went on a power play at the 8:34 mark of the first and controlled play from there. Phillips had to make 19 saves in the opening frame.

With 74 seconds left in the first and UMD on its second power play, Toninato opened the game’s scoring with the first of his two goals on the night. A shot from the point went high off the glass and bounced out front of Phillips where Toninato whacked it in. Officials reviewed the play to see if it hit the netting but the goal stood. Austin Farley and Andy Welinski assisted.

The second period was much of the same with Phillips making diving saves across his crease. UMD made it 2-0 on a goal by Farley. Tony Cameranesi took a shot on the left side of the goaltender that was saved but the rebound came back out to Cameranesi who slid it into the crease for Farley. Nick McCormack also added an assist.

Phillips stopped 11 shots in the second and eight in the third. It was the sixth time this season he’s had over 30 saves.

Tech took five penalties, including two that eliminated power plays. The Huskies were 0-for-3 on the man advantage while the Bulldogs were 1-for-5.

“We never quite got our power play into the game and that was a key,” added Pearson. “We had two chances to change the momentum, and we took penalties. You can’t take two in a game like that.”

The two teams wrap up the non-conference series at 7:07 p.m. on Saturday (Dec. 13).

(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)