FAIRBANKS, Alaska – Jake Lucchini scored with 58 seconds left in overtime to lift Michigan Tech to a 5-4 win over Alaska Friday (Nov. 24) at the Carlson Center. The Huskies came back from a 3-0 deficit to remain unbeaten in their last three games and in five of their last six.
Joel L'Esperance setup the game-winning goal by first keeping the puck in the zone at the blueline and then finding a wide-open Lucchini at the front of the net. Lucchini caught the pass and patiently fired a shot below goaltender Niko DellaMaggiore's blocker to give Tech its first overtime win since the 2017 WCHA Championship Game.
"That win felt really good," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "I'm extremely proud of this team right now. This is a game that we will look back on at the end of the season and think, 'Boy, did we need that win.'"
Tech (6-6-4, 4-5-4-1 WCHA) scored four goals in a row to come out of a deficit after the Nanooks scored a pair of goals in the first period and their third goal 45 seconds into the second.
Alex Smith put the Black and Gold on the board, scoring for the second game in a row 4:16 into the middle period. Todd Kiilunen had the primary assist for his first collegiate point in his first game as a Husky. Brent Baltus also assisted for the first of two points on the night while also supplying the screen out front.
Baltus drew the Huskies to within one as he finished off a rush to the net for his third of the season 10:43 into the second. Smith and Jake Jackson added the assists.
Mark Auk—playing forward for the first game of his career—tied it up at the 17:19 mark of the second with a long wrist shot through traffic, burying his third of the year. Seamus Donohue and Raymond Brice were credited with the assists.
Tech went on a power play early in the third, and Mitch Reinke gave the Huskies their first lead of the night 67 seconds after intermission. Gavin Gould fed a backhanded pass across the top of the goal crease to Reinke who fired in his second of the season for the 4-3 lead. Lucchini also assisted.
Alaska (4-9-2, 2-6-1-1 WCHA) tied it up 4:47 into the third after a shot deflected off the skate of Kylar Hope into the back of the net.
Tech had to kill off a short 5-on-3 penalty later in the period and then went on a power play with 2:04 remaining, but the four shots that were taken didn't make it through to the goaltender.
Baltus and Dylan Steman had chances early in the overtime as they both carried the puck out of the corner to the front of the net but had their shots saved. Tech goalie Patrick Munson made a big save on a 2-on-1 before Lucchini's game-winner.
Tech was outshot 43-31 in the game. Munson made a season-high 39 saves. DellaMaggiore stopped 26 shots for the Nanooks. His goal posts also helped him out as both Gould and L'Esperance drew iron in the first period.
Colton Leiter (11:20) and Chad Staley (18:16) scored the first two goals of the game. Tyler Cline made it 3-0 45 seconds into the second.
The Huskies were 1-for-5 on the power play and 4-for-4 on the penalty kill.
"Todd Kiilunen was phenomenal for us tonight in his first game," added Shawhan. "He competed like we wanted and took the puck up ice like we asked of him. Mark Auk graciously accepted what we asked him to do playing forward and got a goal for us. Packy Munson was great tonight with some big saves late.
"Now we have to back up this win tomorrow. We need to bring it to another level so we get this moment going in the right direction."
Tech will wrap-up its four-game Alaska road trip as the Huskies and Nanooks meet in the WCHA series finale Saturday (Nov. 25) at 11:07 p.m.