HOUGHTON, Mich. – Freshman forward Gavin Gould scored three goals to lead Michigan Tech to a 4-1 win over Minnesota State in Game 3 of the WCHA Semifinal Series on Sunday. The Huskies will now host the WCHA Tournament Championship Game against Bowling Green on Saturday at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
"I thought we really earned this victory tonight," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "It was important to get that first goal and play with the lead, especially after last night. I also really liked our defensive posture. To give up only three goals in three games is pretty darn good."
In the fifth WCHA Playoff game at home this season—the most in program history—the smallest guy on the ice came up with the biggest plays.
"He's a goal scorer," Pearson said about Gould. "That first goal was huge, and he was in the right position on the power play to get a couple more. He's the smallest guy on the ice but it goes to show that stature doesn't matter, it's how you play the game."
Gould opened scoring 7:10 after puck drop, finishing off a pass from Thomas Beretta as the Huskies entered the zone on a 3-on-2 rush. For Gould, it was his ninth of the season with Mark Auk adding the secondary assist.
"It just feels really good to produce something like that for the seniors, especially in a do-or-die game," Gould said. "You want to do whatever it takes for them. I'm happy we got the win and that we get to keep playing."
MSU (22-13-4) quickly tied it up 49 seconds later on a long flip shot from the red line that got by Tech goaltender Angus Redmond. Ian Scheid scored the power play goal from Daniel Brickley and goaltender Jason Pawloski.
"I saw that he flicked it from far out, and then it got lost up in the air," Redmond said. "I saw it at the last second, and I don't really know how it went in. I made a couple big saves at the beginning of the game and then that happens. I just tried to reset and bounce back, and it worked out in the end."
Gould then capitalized twice as the Mavericks were called for a pair of too many men on the ice penalties less than 2:00 a part from each other.
The 5-8 forward whacked in a loose puck at the side of the net 9:28 into the second period to make it 2-1. Joel L'Esperance had his shot blocked but kept the play alive in front of the crease, picking up his 16th assist on the play.
Gould recorded the first Tech hat trick since February 21, 2014—when Reid Sturos scored three times against Northern Michigan—85 seconds later, putting in a rebound after a shot from the point by Matt Roy. Alex Smith also assisted on Gould's 11th of the season.
The Huskies took a pair of penalties in the third period to give the Mavericks hope. They pulled their goaltender to add the extra attacker on the second power play and found the back of the net on a long shot by Brickley with 3:05 on the clock. For the second night in a row, the officials reviewed the play and called the goal back after determining an MSU player was in the crease.
Tech (22-14-7) killed off the rest of the penalty and Chris Leibinger stepped out of the box and buried an empty net goal from the blue line to make it 4-1 with 1:32 left in the game. For Leibinger, it was his third empty net goal of the season and ninth overall. Michael Neville was credited with the assist.
The Black and Gold outshot MSU 22-21. The Mavericks took 11 of their shots in the final period. Redmond had 20 saves in the game and had a save percentage of .953 in the series after stopping 61-of-64 shots. Pawloski finished with 18 saves for the visitors.
Tech was 2-for-4 on the power play and 2-for-3 on the penalty kill.
Saturday's WCHA Tournament Championship Game will start at 7:07 p.m. The winner will receive the Broadmoor Trophy and the WCHA's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Tickets are on sale now at the SDC Ticket Office, over the phone at 906-487-2073, or online at BuyHuskiesTickets.com. Current season ticket holders have until noon on Wednesday to claim their seats.
"Hopefully it's a packed house," said Redmond. "It's a great opportunity and it doesn't come around often. Winning it for the seniors, winning a championship, and going to the national tournament would be awesome."
Bowling Green advanced to the championship game with a sweep of top-seeded Bemidji State over the weekend. The fourth-seeded Falcons swept Ferris State in the quarterfinal round to make it to the semifinals. BGSU has now won seven-straight games, the program's longest winning streak since the 1987-88 season—a campaign that ended in the NCAA Tournament.
Tech has played in four WCHA playoff championship games (1962, 1965, 1996 and 2015), winning twice (1962 and 1965). The Huskies also earned WCHA co-playoff titles in 1960, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981.
The Huskies swept the lone regular season meeting with BGSU, winning 3-1 and 2-1 at the Slater Family Ice Arena on December 9 and 10.