HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech hockey team ran into a hot goaltender Friday night, falling 3-2 to Ferris State to open the annual Winter Carnival series. Bulldog goaltender Justin Kapelmaster had 39 saves to lift the visiting team to the victory.
"We did the things we needed to do, for the most part, tonight," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "We're having trouble scoring. Things aren't going in as easy as they were early in the season. Until they start going in, we have to play rock solid defensively. Giving up three goals at home is just too many.
"No one's feeling sorry for us. We need to continue on, play better defensively, and maybe get a lucky goal to open the flood gates."
Down 2-0 entering the second period, Alex Smith cut the margin to one with his sixth of the season. Gavin Gould setup Smith for a one timer 63 seconds into the period after FSU was whistled for a too many men on the ice penalty six seconds before. Joel L'Esperance picked up the secondary assist.
Tyler Andrew gave the visitors their two-goal lead back late in the second, putting in a rebound after a shot by Jacob Hetz with 1:51 on the clock. Cameron Clarke was also credited with an assist.
Mark Auk brought the Huskies back to within one, scoring his third of the season 11:28 into the third. Chris Gerrie carried the puck into the zone and dropped it back to Auk. A Bulldog defender screened Kapelmaster out front, and Auk capitalized to make it 3-2.
The Huskies pressured throughout the third period, taking 16 shots on goal. Alex Gillies was alone in front of the net midway through the period but was too patient to get a quality shot off. Reid Sturos also had a couple chances in front of the net but couldn't jam the puck in.
Corey Mackin opened the game's scoring 2:19 after the initial puck drop with Jared VanWormer and Cameron Clarke assisting.
VanWormer scored the Bulldogs' second goal on the power play 17:51 into the game from Gerald Mayhew and Joe Rutkowski.
Tech outshot FSU 41-19. Angus Redmond had 16 saves for the Huskies, including a penalty shot save on a shot by Mayhew with 6:05 left in the second period. Kapelmaster had 14 saves in the first, 10 in the second, and 15 in the third.
"I think we weren't doing a good job getting in front of him (Kapelmaster)," senior captain Cliff Watson said. "He was seeing a lot of pucks tonight, and he scrambled well when he needed to. We just need to bear down a little bit when we have our scoring chances."
Tech fell to 16-12-7 overall and 13-6-6-3 in the WCHA. Ferris improved to 10-16-4 overall and 9-11-3-2 in league play.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense," said Watson. "It's frustrating when that's not working. We just have to get back to the simple things and make the basic plays."
Pearson added, "We've got to find a way to salvage the weekend. We need to stay positive and be ready to go tomorrow."
Before the game Tech held a moment of silence for Jeff Sauer who passed away late last week. Sauer's association with the WCHA spanned six decades, including a 31-year tenure as Wisconsin's head coach where he won two national championships and a league-record 665 games. He spent the last 14 years with the WCHA office, and was inducted into the USA Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
State Representative Scott Dianda was on hand to drop a ceremonial first puck for the second Winter Carnival in a row. Dianda, a native of Calumet, was reelected to represent Michigan's 110th House District in November. He serves Baraga, Gogebic, Houghton, Iron, Keweenaw, and Ontonagon counties, as well as Powell and Ishpeming Townships in Marquette County.
The two teams are back on the ice Saturday (Feb. 11) to wrap-up their only meeting of the season. Puck drop is set for 5:07 p.m. at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The MacInnes Cup will be awarded after Saturday's game to the team that scores the most goals on the weekend. A Winter Carnival MVP will also be named.