LAS VEGAS – Michigan Tech's comeback bid came up short in the Ice Vegas Invitational Championship Game Saturday (Jan. 6) as the Huskies fell 3-2 to Arizona State at T-Mobile Arena. The Sun Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Huskies started to close in.
"I give Arizona State full credit for the way they played tonight," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "They played very similar to the way Bowling Green played in the GLI Championship. They didn't give us a lot of ice and we did a poor job of managing the puck against that."
Down by three entering the third period, Dylan Steman scored his second of the weekend to close the gap 4:58 into the frame. On the power play, Jackson carried the puck into the zone, and below the goal line, before centering a pass to Steman for his fourth goal of the season. Dane Birks added the secondary assist.
Greyson Reitmeier made it a one-goal game with just under 4:00 to go in the game as he whacked at a loose puck in the crease for his second of the season. Justin Misiak and Steman assisted on the scramble play.
Coach Shawhan pulled goaltender Patrick Munson with just over 2:00 remaining for the extra attacker. The Huskies pressured in the offensive zone, but ASU goaltender Joey Daccord had a pair of saves in the final moments to seal the win for the Sun Devils in the inaugural tournament.
"I'm disappointed in the effort, and I know the team is disappointed in both of these championship games," added Shawhan. "We have the talent, we have the skill level, and we've shown that we can hold our own against every team. We just need to learn to play consistently against teams that play a difficult and aggressive style of game."
ASU (6-12-4) opened scoring 2:54 into the game with a 4-on-4 breakaway goal by Brinson Pasichnuk for his first of two goals in the game.
Johnny Walker made it 2-0 2:28 into the second with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.
Pasichnuk scored his second of the game 14:19 into the second as his long shot got under Tech starting goaltender Devin Kero for the 3-0 lead.
The Huskies hit four pipes. Todd Kiilunen drew iron late in the first period, while Jake Jackson and Joel L'Esperance hit the post in the final 5:00 of the second. Steman hit the pipe in the third just before he scored.
Brent Baltus had a great scoring chance early in the third period as he stepped out of the penalty box and went in on a breakaway. ASU goalie Daccord was there for one of his 36 saves. He also robbed Seamus Donohue at the side of the net 3:00 later.
Kero finished with 15 saves in the first 34:19. Munson had seven saves in the final 23:45, making his first return between the pipes since December 8.
Tech (11-9-5) outshot ASU 38-25 in the game with 20 shots in the second and 11 in the third.
Steman and Reinke were named to the Ice Vegas All-Tournament Team. Steman had four points on the weekend with a goal and an assist each night, while Reinke had a pair of assists in the semifinal win over No. 13 Boston College.
The Huskies and Sun Devils will meet again on February 16-17 as ASU makes its first-ever trip to Houghton. Tech has next weekend off before hosting Alaska for a WCHA series on January 19-20 at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.