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Huskies Win at NMU Friday, Clinch No 2 Seed for WCHA Playoffs

MARQUETTE, Mich. – Michigan Tech scored three straights goals after Northern Michigan took an early lead, and the Huskies held on for 3-2 win Friday at the Berry Events Center. The two teams play for the fourth time and wrap-up the regular season Saturday at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

Tech is now 18-12-7 overall and 15-6-6-3 in the WCHA after its sixth straight win over NMU. The Huskies locked in the No. 2 seed in the upcoming WCHA Playoffs with the win and Minnesota State's loss at Bemidji State Friday.

"I'm proud of our players and proud of the seniors. They don't ever have to come back to play here," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "The guys did a great job killing penalties in the third, and Angus held the fort for us at the end."

NMU (11-20-4, 9-15-3-1 WCHA) struck first 3:15 into the game on a goal by Robbie Payne.

Cliff Watson tied it up, scoring his third of the season over 8:00 later. After a lengthy scramble in front of the NMU net, Joel L'Esperance took a shot that was blocked over to Mitch Reinke. Out of the corner of his eye, Reinke found a wide-open Watson who blasted it in.

Thomas Beretta gave the Huskies the lead 11:06 into the second period after he redirected a setup pass from Chris Leibinger for the fourth tally of his freshman season. Mark Auk added the secondary assist.

The Huskies went on their fourth power play later in the second. Coach Pearson used his timeout before the penalty started to ignite the man advantage that had went 0-for-3, including a 5:00 power play earlier in the game. Shane Hanna gave the Huskies a two-goal lead after he walked the puck across the point and wristed in his sixth of the year with assists going to Jake Lucchini and Reinke.

NMU added its second goal 6:59 into the third when Ryan Black scored.

Northern had a pair of power plays later in the game, but the Huskies' penalty kill went 4-for-4 and Angus Redmond made 13 of his 29 saves in the frame.

The game ended with a scramble in front of the Tech cage. NMU added the extra attacker and applied a ton of pressure out front. Redmond kept the puck in his sights and steered it out of the crease as the horn sounded.

"The hardest team to play is a desperate team," added Pearson. "They (NMU) were amped up tonight with it being a rivalry game, senior night, and they're trying to maintain their playoff position. They kept coming after us, but it was a big win and a big three points."

NMU outshot the Huskies 31-30, snapping a streak of 12 straight games Tech has outshot its opponent. Redmond had nine saves in the first and seven in the second. Atte Tolvinen stopped 27 shots for the home team.

"We need some guys to step up and play better tomorrow," said Pearson. "We're excited to be headed home. Let's fill the place for our seniors and honor the class that has won more games than any class since 1984."

Puck drop is set for 7:07 p.m. Saturday. Tech's eight seniors—Brent Baltus, Shane Hanna, Tyler Heinonen, Chris Leibinger, Michael Neville, Reid Sturos, Cliff Watson, and Matt Wintjes—will be honored after the game.