Ever since the Michigan Tech Huskies became the nation’s top-ranked team, they have found themselves chasing the Minnesota State Mavericks. Now the No. 5 team in the country, the Huskies find themselves just one point back thanks to a sweep of the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves while the Mavericks struggled to wrestle just one point from the Alaska Nanooks.
The Huskies saw senior David Johnstone return to the lineup only to get ejected from Friday’s game thanks to a major slashing penalty, sophomore Cliff Watson missed the first game sitting out a suspension, but played on Saturday. Junior Patrick Anderson scored his first career goal Saturday night. Oh, and the Huskies outscored the Seawolves 15-1 for the weekend.
The Huskies struck twice in the first period Friday night, thanks to power play goals from junior Malcolm Gould at 12:43 and Shane Hanna at 14:13. Things remained that way until sophomore Mike Neville struck 5:41 into the second period. Sophomore Tyler Heinonen extended the lead to four at 7:55. Hanna scored his second of the night at 12:32.
The Seawolves would strike in the third to make it a four-goal game. Huskies coach Mel Pearson was not entirely pleased with his team’s efforts once it took a multiple-goal lead as they got off their game plan. The Seawolves actually outshot the Huskies 21-13 over the final 40 minutes of play.
Junior Jamie Phillips made the saves he needed to, however, keeping the Huskies well ahead on the scoreboard. He finished the night with 22 saves, 20 of which came after the first drop of the puck in the second period.
Pearson’s message was sent to the Huskies to be more aggressive and they responded with five first period goals. Senior Tanner Kero struck just 1:42 in. Gould scored back-to-back goals almost six minutes apart. Sophomore Brent Baltus scored on a breakaway at 9:51, just 14 seconds after Gould’s second tally. That goal ended Seawolves goaltender Olivier Mantha’s night. Mark Auk made it 5-0 at 18:01.
The Seawolves came out better in the second period, outshooting the Huskies 14-4 for the period. This prompted another discussion in the Huskies’ locker room, and the players responded in the third, outshooting the Seawolves, 20-9 and striking five more times.
Kero scored on a 4-on-4 at 5:55. Freshman Dylan Steman scored at 9:29. Junior Alex Petan struck at 11:59, and now needs just two points to reach 100 for his career. Sophomore Chris Leibinger scored during a 4-on-4. Anderson struck during a 4-on-3 power play at 15:42.
Phillips saw plenty of action at the other end, making 35 saves to earn the shutout.
So many players qualified for the Stick Salute this week. Patrick Anderson scored his first career goal. Jamie Phillips only gave up one goal. However, junior winger Malcolm Gould gets the honor with his three-goal weekend. The young veteran has been much improved this season and now sits third on the Huskies in scoring with 28 points in 30 games. His goal and assist totals are identical at 14. More interesting, he had all of 18 career points coming into the year. At the rate he is going, he could eclipse that number in either or both categories.