MANKATO, Minn. – Michigan Tech fell 2-1 at No. 3 Minnesota State Friday (March 9) in Game 1 of their WCHA Semifinal series. Joel L'Esperance scored with 10:41 remaining but the Huskies couldn't find the equalizer down the stretch.
"They're the third-ranked team in the country, they just won the league championship, and haven't lost in 15 games," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "Our guys played a tremendous hockey game. We played with a lot of heart, emotion, and passion."
Trailing 2-0 entering the third period, the Huskies started to generate some offense. Alex Smith went in on a breakaway with 12:15 left. He patiently moved the puck to his backhand but All-WCHA Third Team goaltender Connor LaCouvee was there for the save.
L'Esperance got his team on the board just over a minute later. He caught the puck inside the circle and made a move across the slot before wristing in his 10th of the season. Gavin Gould and Jake Lucchini were credited with the assists.
Coach Shawhan pulled goaltender Devin Kero for the extra attacker with 1:26 on the clock. The Huskies controlled the play in the final moments but couldn't generate any shots on net.
"I'm extremely proud of the effort," added Shawhan. "We didn't give up much at all. The majority of their shots were from the perimeter. We had to fight for every chance we got and a lot of them got blocked."
The Mavericks took the lead with 1:34 left in the first period when Jared Spooner found the back of the net from Nicolas Rivera and Daniel Brickley.
MSU (29-7-1) then opened the second period on the power play and capitalized 1:22 into the frame for the two-goal lead. Jake Jaremko scored from Parker Tuomie and Ian Scheid.
Tech (19-16-5) was outshot on the night 28-19. Kero had 26 saves for the Huskies and LaCouvee finished with 18.
Each team was whistled for only one penalty.
"We'll figure out a couple things and come back tomorrow night with another great effort," said Shawhan. "We'll look at some film to see where we can be a little better."
The two teams will continue the best-of-three series at 8:07 p.m. Saturday (March 10) for Game 2.