Two goals were all that separated the visiting Michigan Tech Huskies from the Western Collegiate Hockey Association-leading Ferris State Bulldogs this weekend. On Friday night, the pair of teams went scoreless for 48:25 before the hosts found space behind Huskies’ goaltender Jamie Phillips. The Bulldogs won the game, 1-0. On Saturday, the No. 3 Bulldogs struck first. Trailing 2-0, the Huskies battled back to score twice, but unfortunately, one of the goals was called back. The hosts grabbed a 3-1 lead late in the third before the Huskies cut the lead in half with just under a minute left. They could not even the game, however, losing 3-2.
The Huskies and Bulldogs played two scoreless periods that were not without excitement. Phillips stopped 21 shots over the first 40 minutes while his counterpart, C.J. Motte made 17. Junior winger David Johnstone had the Huskies’ best scoring chance late in the second period when he took a pass in the deep slot. Unfortunately, the pass came to his backhand and handcuffed him a little bit, negating the scoring chance.
Things remained even heading towards the halfway point of the third when Garrett Thompson broke the tie. The Huskies fought to the final buzzer, but were unable to even the game.
“I can’t fault our team’s effort tonight,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “They played hard, they did a lot of really good things. We’re just, offensively, really challenged right now. That’s the difference. We have to start to score.”
The Bulldogs needed just 6:24 to grab the lead on Saturday night. Despite trailing on the scoreboard, the Huskies outshot the hosts, 14-7, in the period. The game remained as such until the Bulldogs struck again shorthanded. Sophomore Alex Petan cut the lead in half on the same power play. Freshman Shane Hanna and senior Ryan Furne both assisted on the goal.
Freshman Brent Baltus appeared to tie the game before the middle frame ended, but the goal was called back. The Huskies continued to battle deep into the third, but it was the Bulldogs who found the back of the net at 16:31. Junior winger David Johnstone again cut the lead to one with a tally at 19:06. Hanna and Petan both assisted on the goal. The Huskies could not find one more goal before time ran out.
“What can you say? You can’t ask for any more for a hockey team,” said Pearson. “To come in here, that’s the third-ranked team in the country. You outshoot them, 46-20. We played a real solid game, did everything we had to do. We’re just not getting any breaks. We’re not getting what we deserved this weekend.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to winger David Johnstone. Having missed 15 games due to injuries, the junior returned to the lineup on Jan. 3 against Lake Superior State, making them far more dangerous. All he has done is change the nature of the Huskies’ offense. All weekend against the Bulldogs, Johnstone had scoring chances before finally burying one late Saturday night. With the goal, he now has three goals and six points in 11 games this season.