- Game Highlights
- Coach Shawhan Interview
- Jake Lucchini Interview
- Mitch Reinke Interview
- Photo Gallery
HOUGHTON, Mich. – The No. 15-ranked Michigan Tech hockey team defeated Alabama Huntsville 5-4 in the home opener at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena Friday (Oct. 20). Jake Lucchini scored the game-winner with 5:29 remaining to extend Tech's unbeaten streak to five games.
Down by a goal midway through the third period, Justin Misiak tied it at four on the power play for his second of the season. Mark Auk fed Misiak at the side of the net with Lucchini adding the second assist.
Just over 4:00 later Lucchini kicked a bouncing puck back to his stick and his snap shot found the upper corner for the go-ahead tally. For Lucchini, it was his second of the year and 20th of his career. L'Esperance assisted with the feed across the blue line, while Gavin Gould also added an assist.
"Joel made a nice play up to me," Lucchini said. "I came across the blue line and was going to pull it to my forehand, but I lost it. Then it came back to me so I thought, 'I should probably shoot.' It went in I guess. It was nice."
Huntsville (0-3-0, 0-1-1 WCHA) added some pressure late in third but was called for a penalty with 1:33 left and wasn't able to add the extra attacker until under 10 seconds remained.
"I give them [Alabama Huntsville] total credit for the way they battled tonight," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "They're well coached and came after us hard. I feel fortunate to come out of that with a win. Every point is important for us, and we're still trying to grow as a team and trying to get better every night."
The Huskies (4-1-1, 2-0-1-1 WCHA) jumped out to an early lead after a power play goal by Dane Birks only 1:41 into the game. Keegan Ford swung the puck across the top of the zone to Birks who blasted in a one-timer for his second of the season and fourth of his career. Greyson Reitmeier also assisted.
The Chargers tied it up 5:00 later with their only even strength tally of the night off the stick of Christian Rajic.
Mitch Reinke and L'Esperance scored in the second period to put the home team up 3-1. Reinke used a screen by Dylan Steman to score his first of the season at the 9:14 mark. The play was setup on a steal by Raymond Brice who had the only assist.
L'Esperance scored on the power play for his fifth of the season and a two-goal lead at 13:16. He put in a rebound after Reinke's long shot was saved out front. Lucchini picked up the first of three points on the night with the secondary helper.
UAH then went on to score three straight power play goals to take the lead. Brennan Saulnier scored with 3:24 left in the second, and Josh Kestner tied it up 1:10 later.
Tyler Poulsen gave the visitors the lead 7:31 into the third, before the Huskies scored the game's final two goals.
Tech outshot UAH 38-28, including an 18-8 advantage in the third period. Husky goaltender Patrick Munson had 24 saves with 10 coming in the opening frame. Jordan Uhelski stopped 33 shots for the Chargers.
"We have to develop some players into elite penalty killers," added Shawhan. "We have to find those guys that will study it and take pride in it."
UAH was called for eight penalties, while Tech was whistled for four. The Huskies were 3-for-8 on the man advantage and rank third in the nation scoring on 37.9 percent of their chances.
ArcelorMittal, the world's leading steel and mining company, sponsored Friday's game and donated 1,000 7th Man T-shirts to Tech students. The student section was sold-out, and it was the fourth year in a row ArcelorMittal sponsored a game. ArcelorMittal employs over 60 Michigan Tech graduates.
Tech also unveiled a new WCHA Tournament Championship banner before the game, commemorating the 10 times the Huskies have won the league playoffs.
The two teams wrap-up the WCHA series on Saturday (Oct. 21) at 7:07 p.m.