DULUTH, Minn. – Michigan Tech defeated No. 16 Union College 6-3 to open the 2017 Ice Breaker Tournament at AMSOIL Arena on Friday (Oct. 6). Head Coach Joe Shawhan picked up his first NCAA collegiate victory as the Huskies got scoring from three defensemen, a pair of goals by Joel L'Esperance, and an empty net tally by Jake Jackson to seal the win.
"I was excited about our team play tonight," Shawhan said. "We've been practicing extremely well this week with great attention to detail. I felt good going into the game because of how we've been practicing, and we played that way.
"It was kind of a flip flop from the Wisconsin game. Tonight we came out excellent. We limited scoring chances, and I was worried Packy wasn't going to adjust into the game with limited action. But I credit Union for the way they came at us in the second and the beginning of the third."
Tech (1-1) led 3-1 after the first 20:00. Freshman Mitch Meek buried his first collegiate goal 3:29 into the game, wristing a shot through traffic from the top of the circles. Alex Gillies was credited with the only assist.
Union (0-2) tied it up 3:29 later, capitalizing on a breakaway goal by Anthony Rinaldi.
Dane Birks and Mark Auk then each scored goals with shots from the top of the zone for the two-goal lead. Birks scored on the power play from Auk and Brent Baltus at the 12:59 mark. Auk buried at 15:41 from Gillies and Thomas Beretta, even with six skaters on the ice for the Dutchmen. Union was whistled for the penalty after the goal.
Union controlled much of the second period, outshooting Tech 15-5, but L'Esperance scored his first of two to push the lead to 4-1 6:15 into the middle frame.
The Dutchmen again came out and applied a ton of offensive pressure in the third period. Josh Kosack (3:09) and Rinaldi (5:46) brought the visitors to within one early in the third.
L'Esperance scored his third of the season midway (9:22) through to push the lead back two with Jake Lucchini setting him up at the side of the net.
Union pulled goaltender Jake Kupsky with over 2:00 left for the extra attacker. Patrick Munson had three saves down the stretch and Meek blocked a shot before Jackson was able to streak up the ice and score into the empty net on a breakaway with 24 seconds left.
Munson finished with 35 saves as the Dutchmen outshot Tech 38-20. Kupsky stopped 14 shots.
Both teams were whistled for three minor penalties. Tech was 1-for-3 on the man advantage and 3-or-3 on the penalty kill.
"These nonconference wins are huge," added Shawhan. "Tomorrow night is going to be another quality opponent, and it'll be another great learning experience for our young group."
The Huskies play No. 6 Minnesota Duluth for Saturday's championship game. The Bulldogs advanced with a 4-3 double overtime win over No. 3 Minnesota.