HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech advanced to the WCHA Semifinal round for the third year in a row with a two-game sweep of Lake Superior State. The Huskies shutout the Lakers 8-0 Saturday (March 4), getting goals from seven different players. Angus Redmond had 16 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Tech won its 20th game, its fourth over LSSU this season, and the seventh straight over the Lakers overall, pouring in 14 goals in the series.
"I liked our overall team effort tonight," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "We got good games from everyone that played.
"I liked the eight goals we scored, but more importantly, I liked our zero against. Angus is our guy. He's been the guy that has gotten us to this point. It was a good game for him, and he had to get through long stretches without much action. He did his part."
The Huskies scored early and often with Reid Sturos making it 1-0 3:30 into the game. Jake Jackson carried the puck around the net and fed Sturos out front for his 10th of the year and second on the weekend. Cliff Watson added an assist.
Joel L'Esperance found the back of the net before the period ended for his first of two on the night and ninth of the year. He tipped in a Matt Roy shot to extend his point streak to four games with Mark Auk adding the secondary assist at the 18:38 mark.
Michael Neville scored the only goal of the second period with a shorthanded tally for his seventh of the year 8:34 in. Sturos setup Neville for his third career shorty after digging the puck off the sidewall. Shane Hanna added the second assist after clearing the puck the length of the ice.
Tech (20-13-7) racked up five goals in the third period. Hanna scored from Neville and Roy 1:42 in as he carried the puck to the net, burying his seventh of the season.
Gavin Gould scored 4:00 later on the power play to make it 5-0 from Roy. Auk also assisted for his second of three points on the night.
Auk added a power play goal at the 11:56 mark, wristing in a long shot after Alex Smith won the draw. For Auk, it was his fourth of the year.
Chris Leibinger got into the action 12 seconds later for his eighth of the season, finding himself wide-open out front and finished off a feed from Gould.
Tech outshot LSSU 38-16, taking eight shots in the first, 12 in the second, and 18 in the third. Defiel finished the game with 30 saves. The Black and Gold dominated in shots all weekend 89-34.
The Huskies' power play was 3-for-8 and the penalty kill was 6-for-6.
Tech's line with Neville centering, Jackson and Sturos combined for 13 points in the series. The trio has been playing together since early December.
"We're just having fun out there," Neville said. "We're playing with a lot of speed and giving defensemen a lot of trouble down low. We're not spending a lot of time in our own end, and that's been a big part of it."
The Huskies will play at home next weekend (March 10-12) in another best-of-three series. The puck will drop at 7:07 p.m. Friday, Saturday, and if necessary, Sunday.
"Now we get another weekend at home of playoff hockey," Pearson said. "We've played so well here all year. These seniors are running this team. They're making things happen right now and they want to continue to play."
Tech awaits its semifinal matchup. Minnesota State (3) advanced with a sweep of Alaska (6) and Bowling Green State (4) swept Ferris State (5) in other first round matchups. Top-seeded Bemidji State and Northern Michigan (8) will play a series-deciding Game 3 Sunday evening.
"We're fighting for our lives," Sturos said. "We're not going to make the NCAA Tournament unless we win it all so every weekend is big. It's nice to win in two and now we're looking forward to next weekend."
Get your tickets now by stopping at the SDC Central Ticket Office, calling 906-487-2073, or visiting BuyHuskiesTickets.com. Current season ticket holders have until noon on Wednesday (March 8) to secure their seats for the next round.
GAME NOTES: Tech is unbeaten in 10 straight games against LSSU… Tech has won six straight WCHA first round playoff games—all at home…The Huskies advanced to the semifinals with sweeps of Alabama Huntsville in 2014-15 and Alaska in 2015-16…Seven different Huskies had at least two points Saturday… It was the fourth straight playoff home game with at least five goals for the Huskies…Eight Huskies had a point in each game of the series…Sturos has six points (2G-4A) in the last three games…Jackson has five points (3G-2A) in the last three games…Hanna and Neville both had one goal and three assists in the series.