HOUGHTON, Mich. – The Michigan Tech hockey team scored three power-play goals in the second period to climb out of a two-goal deficit and defeat No. 16 Northern Michigan Saturday (Feb. 24) at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. The Huskies and Wildcats split the final series of the regular season and Tech honored its nine seniors after the game.
"I'm extremely proud of the effort tonight," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "I couldn't be more proud of the senior class. It's special for them to get the win on senior night and will be a great memory for them for the rest of their lives."
Down by two at the first intermission, the Huskies capitalized on their first power play of the second period when Captain Brent Baltus scored his second of the weekend 4:01 into the frame. Baltus redirected a Dane Birks one-timer for his 11th of the season. Greyson Reitmeier added the second assist.
Jake Lucchini tied it up 4:44 later with his team-leading 13th of the season also on the man advantage. He received a pass from Seamus Donohue on the half wall and carried it down the circle before wristing a shot through traffic for his 10th point in the last eight games. Mark Auk added an assist.
NMU (21-12-3,19-7-2-2 WCHA) was called for a 5:00 major later in the second and Justin Misiak scored the game-winning goal 66 seconds after the call. Similar to the Baltus goal, Misiak redirected a shot out front for his sixth of the season. Donohue and Auk assisted for the second straight goal. For Auk, it was his seventh point in the last five games.
Tech outshot NMU 36-29 in the game. Devin Kero had 27 saves for the home team, including 14 in the third period alone after Tech was whistled for a 5:00 penalty with 6:46 left in the game. He made seven saves during the power play and got help from teammates Baltus and Todd Kiilunen as they each blocked a shot.
"Devin made some big saves, controlled rebounds and swallowed the puck all night," added Shawhan. "He seems to be getting better and better and was really good tonight—especially late during that 5:00 penalty kill."
Kero had two more saves in the final 1:13 when NMU pulled goaltender Atte Tolvanen to add the extra attacker. The Huskies were able to clear the puck and celebrate victory with the 4,117 fans in the building—the most for the 2017-18 season.
"That last 6:00 was a grind, but it was a lot of fun, and I'm glad we got the win," Kero said. "It was something special being my last time out there and getting a big win over our rival."
Northern scored a pair of power-play goals in the first period to take the lead. Troy Loggins picked up his 17th of the season 11:51 into the game. Denver Pierce added to the lead with 2:32 remaining for his ninth of the year.
Tolvanan had 33 saves for the Wildcats, which included 13 in the first and 15 in the second.
Tech was 3-for-5 on both the power play and penalty kill after the two teams combined for 11 penalties, totaling 44 minutes.
Evan Anderson, Mark Auk, Brent Baltus, Dane Birks, Mason Blacklock, Alex Gillies, Devin Kero, Joel L'Esperance, and Dylan Steman were honored after the game on senior night. Gillies was the only one unable to play due to injury.
The 2018 senior class is the first since 1978 to go four years without having a losing record. As freshmen, they quickly climbed to No. 1 in the country after the program's best start later appearing in the NCAA tournament for the first time in 34 years. They won the Desert Hockey Classic and MacNaughton Cup as sophomores, the Broadmoor Trophy as juniors, and the Ice Breaker Championship this year.
"It was a really good weekend to get us ready for playoffs next weekend in Bemidji," Baltus said. "Obviously playing here at the Mac one last time was special. We get so much support here from our fans and community."
Tech finished the regular season with a 17-15-5, overall record and a 12-11-5-2 mark in the WCHA. The Huskies are the fifth seed in the WCHA Playoffs and will travel to No. 4 Bemidji State next weekend for a best-of-three series at the Sanford Center.