HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech hockey team fell 5-3 to Northern Michigan on Senior Night from the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena on Saturday (Feb. 25). The Huskies finished the regular season with an 18-13-7 overall record and a 15-7-6-3 mark in the WCHA. Tech will host seventh-seeded Lake Superior State next weekend in the first round of the WCHA Playoffs.
Tech's eight seniors were recognized on the ice after the game after Brent Baltus, Shane Hanna, Tyler Heinonen, Chris Leibinger, Michael Neville, Reid Sturos, Cliff Watson, and Matt Wintjes played their final regular season home game.
The class has won 84 games over its four years—the most since the 1984 senior class. They have also been to the NCAA Tournament, won the MacNaughton Cup, and were ranked No. 1 in the country in 2014-15.
"It was a tough loss tonight," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "I'm disappointed for our seniors who have done so much for this program. But like Cliff Watson said after the game, 'Let's just win the last game we play here.' If we do that as a team, that means we'll be playing a lot more hockey."
Joel L'Esperance opened the game's scoring 65 seconds after puck drop, tallying his eighth of the season. Alex Gillies took the initial shot that was saved and rebounded out to L'Esperance who whacked in. Dane Birks was also credited with an assist.
NMU (12-20-4, 10-15-3-1 WCHA) tied it up with a power play goal by Troy Loggins with 50 seconds left on the first period clock. Philip Beaulieu and Darien Craighead assisted.
Early in the second, the Wildcats took their first lead of the game with a power play tally by Craighead. Jordan Klimek and Beaulieu assisted on the goal 4:14 into the middle period.
Jake Jackson tied it up at two five minutes later with his sixth of the year and second against NMU this season. He beat his defenseman on the outside and slipped the puck under NMU goaltender Atte Tolvanen. Reid Sturos and goaltender Angus Redmond assisted on the play.
The two teams then traded goals in the final minute of the period. Dominik Shine scored unassisted with 60 seconds left in the frame, before Gavin Gould tied it up on the power play 15 seconds later. Gould redirected a shot by Shane Hanna for the sixth of his freshman season with Matt Roy adding the extra assist.
NMU added a pair of goals in the third to get the win. Shane Sooth scored 4:05 in for the game winner, and Gerard Hanson added an empty net tally with 35 seconds left.
The Huskies dominated in shots on goal 41-22. Tolvanen had 38 saves for the visitors. Redmond stopped 12 shots before being relieved by senior Matt Wintjes with 16 minutes left in the game. Wintjes stopped all five of the shots he faced.
"We played hard and generated some really good scoring opportunities," added Pearson. "We just couldn't capitalize. You can't give up four goals at home and expect to win. They (NMU) found a way to get the job done tonight, and I give them credit."
Recently elected congressman, Jack Bergman was on hand to drop the puck before the game.
The Wildcats are the eighth seed in the WCHA Playoffs and travel to top-seeded Bemidji State. Minnesota State (3) hosts Alaska (6) and Ferris State travels to Bowling Green State in the four five matchup.
Tech and LSSU met earlier this season in Houghton with the Huskies winning 6-1 Friday and 4-2 Saturday. The puck will drop at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and if necessary, Sunday. Get your tickets now by stopping by the SDC Ticket Office, calling 906-487-2073 or visiting BuyHuskiesTickets.com.