After two weekends off, no one was quite sure which Michigan Tech Huskies team would show up at No. 9 Ferris State. However, after a pair of games which featured some outstanding goaltending and a pair of huge third-period goals, the Huskies came away from Big Rapids, Mich., with a pair of victories over the Bulldogs. The losses were the first two suffered by the hosts at the Robert L. Ewigleben Ice Arena since they joined the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA). With the wins, the Huskies moved back into first in the WCHA Standings.
Friday night’s game saw a battle between Huskies’ goalie Jamie Phillips and Bulldogs’ goalie C.J. Motte. After Motte posted 20 saves in the second period, it began to look like it would be Phillips who would blink first. However, the Huskies used the end of a power play to start the third period strong, getting the puck into a mass of bodies in front of Motte. The puck bounced around and eventually in, as co-captain Blake Pietila broke the scoreless tie 19 seconds into the period. Phillips shut the door from that point forward to get the 1-0 win.
“First and foremost, just really happy for our players,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “We played well here last year and probably deserved a little bit better fate. We lost that one 1-0 game here last year and this year we got a bounce.”
Through 20 minutes Saturday night, things looked very similar to Friday, with one exception, the Bulldogs played more physically. The rough play did not translate to better scoring chances, however, as the teams remained tied after the period.
Freshman Alex Gillies broke the tie on the power play 2:25 into the middle frame. The Bulldogs tied it five minutes later. The Huskies earned a five-minute power play in the third, and senior David Johnstone struck at 13:30 off a feed from sophomore Reid Sturos. Phillips then closed the door for the remainder of the night.
“I thought we put in a gutsy effort tonight,” said Pearson. “We did not have our best period in the second period but we came out and had a real good third period. I thought our guys did a really good job.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to junior goaltender Jamie Phillips. After surrendering four goals in a road sweep of Lake Superior State to start the season, Phillips went to work on his game during the two-week break. The results were exactly what Pearson and his staff could hope for, a 33-save shutout of the Bulldogs on Friday night and another 34 stops in a win on Saturday. His numbers improved to 4-0-0 with a 1.25 goals against average and a 95.4% save percentage.
Phillips played all four games against the Bulldogs last season. He went 1-3 over that stretch.