HOUGHTON, Mich. – No. 11 Michigan Tech snapped No. 7 Bowling Green’s nine-game unbeaten streak with a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over the Falcons on Friday (Jan. 16) night in WCHA play. The Huskies trailed twice at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena but scored the game’s final two goals to improve to 16-6-1 overall and 11-3-1 in the WCHA.
For the third game in a row, the Huskies battled back from a two-goal deficit. This time the results would be different, as Tanner Kero scored the go ahead goal 10:19 into the third period.
“It was a real good game tonight,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “It was well played by both teams, and you can see why they’re a top-ranked team.
“Once we got behind 2-0, we seemed to play more desperate and with more urgency.”
Alex Petan made it a 2-1 game with 3:37 left in the second period as he cleaned up a rebound after a long shot by Chris Leibinger. Brent Baltus also assisted on Petan’s 10th of the season.
The momentum quickly swung into the Huskies favor and only 2:03 later Mark Auk tied it up, scoring his first career goal with a blast that was assisted by Tyler Heinonen.
“Heinonen brought it around the top of the circle, and I saw a little open room,” Auk said. “He dished it to me so I closed my eyes and hoped for the best.”
The Falcons (13-4-4, 9-2-2 WCHA) again took the lead 6:30 into the third period on a power play goal by Mitchell McLain.
Baltus tied it up at four, scoring for the second game in a row. He picked up a long rebound after a shot by Petan, found some open ice, and buried a shot top shelf over a sprawling Chris Nell.
The Huskies then capitalized on the power play for the game winner, cleaning up another rebound. Blake Pietila muscled his way to the net and Kero scooped up the puck out front and calmly backhanded it in with 9:41 left in the third. Petan assisted for his third point of the game and third game in a row with multiple points.
BGSU pulled goaltender Nell with 1:14 left, but Tech’s defense shut the door on the Falcons, not even allowing a shot in the late stages.
Dan DeSalvo and Brandon Hawkins scored in the second period to give BGSU their 2-0 lead.
Jamie Phillips stopped 31 shots for the Huskies, including 12 in the second and 13 in the third. He also shut the door on McLain on a second period breakaway. It is the ninth time this season he’s had more than 30 saves.
Nell finished with 19 saves, picking up his first loss between the pipes. Pietila racked up six of those shots for the Huskies.
“Blake had a real strong game,” added Pearson. “When he is determined, he is so strong on the puck, and we need more of that.”
The two teams wrap up the WCHA series at a special 5:07 p.m. puck drop on Saturday (Jan. 17) due to the planned Portage Lake Lift Bridge Closure beginning at 9 p.m. later that night.
“We have to come out a little bit faster and set the tempo tomorrow,” Kero said. “We have to play well defensively and take care of our chances on offense. We just have to play our game.”
(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)