L’Esperance lifts Huskies to second sweep of Alaska

HOUGHTON, Mich.Joel L'Esperance scored with 1:06 remaining in the third period to break a 3-3 tie and give Michigan Tech its 14th straight win over Alaska and second WCHA sweep of the Nanooks this season. The Huskies improved to 13-9-5 overall and 9-6-5-2 in the WCHA after coming back from a 2-0 first-period deficit.

The game-winning goal was scored on a redirect of Mark Auk's blast from the top of the faceoff circle. Raymond Brice picked up the secondary assist as he created a turnover.

"Ray did a good job pressuring their D when they coughed it," L'Esperance said. "I just went around the net and ended up in front by myself. Mark did a good job shooting to my stick, and I just redirected it between the goalie's legs.

"It was awesome when it went in!"

The Huskies scored three straight goals to take the lead after falling behind early. Seamus Donohue scored his second of the season to make it 2-1 with 5.4 seconds left in the first period. He one-timed in a cross-ice pass from Mitch Reinke on the power play with Jake Lucchini adding the secondary assist.

Justin Misiak tied it up 12:34 into the second period, scoring his fifth of the season as he tipped in a shot by Reinke. Greyson Reitmeier also assisted with the feed out to Reinke at the point.

Thomas Beretta gave the home team its first lead of the night with 1:52 left in the second when he finished off a centering feed by Jake Jackson. For Beretta, it was his sixth of the season, and second of the weekend, with Dylan Steman picking up the secondary assist.

Alaska (9-15-2, 7-12-1-1 WCHA) tied it at three 5:26 into the third period with a power-play goal by Zach Frye.

After L'Esperance's goal, and a Michigan Tech penalty with 21 seconds remaining, coach Lance West used his timeout and pulled his goalie for a 6-on-4 advantage. The Huskies cleared the puck and didn't allow a shot towards the net to remain unbeaten in nine of their last 10 WCHA games.

"We're chasing home ice right now and six points this weekend is big," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "The teams above us also won this weekend, but the good thing for us is that we get to play those teams down the stretch."

Tech outshot Alaska 24-21. Devin Kero made his fourth straight start and picked up his third win with 18 saves. Nine saves came in the third period alone. Nik DellaMaggiore stopped 20 shots for the visitors.

The Huskies were called for six penalties and were 4-for-5 on the penalty kill and 1-for-3 on the power play.

Alaska's first period goals were scored by Tyler Cline (1:15) and Tayler Munson (8:52).

Dane Birks and Dylan Steman both played their 100th game in a Tech uniform Saturday. Steman extended his point streak to four games with an assist and now has two goals and five assists in the span.

Saturday was Junior Hockey Night, Tech's annual celebration of youth hockey in the area. The team also held Skate With The Huskies after the game.

The Huskies welcomed WCHA fan Will Sterrett to the game as he completed his goal of visiting all 10 WCHA schools. The John MacInnes Student Ice Arena was his final stop.

Tech heads on the road the next two weekends, starting at Ferris State on January 26-27.