Tech hockey start stuns St. Cloud
ST. CLOUD, Minn. – Freshman goaltender Jamie Phillips made 36 saves in his second career start to help Michigan Tech to a 5-1 victory at WCHA-leading St. Cloud State Saturday at the National Hockey Center. Tech scored 28 seconds into the game and went on to tally four more to gain the series split with No. 7-ranked SCSU and its first win in St. Cloud since 1998.
Phillips, whose last start was Dec. 4 at Northern Michigan, got some early help from his offense. Tech put up a trio of goals in the first 4:23 to take control of the game. Tanner Kero scored on a rebound of a Riley Sweeney shot during the game’s first shift.
After Jujhar Khaira was called for boarding at the 1:41 mark, he came out of the penalty box and wristed a shot into the top left corner of the goal for a 2-0 lead. Just 32 seconds after that, Sweeney scored his first career goal with a shot through traffic from the high slot.
The Black and Gold withstood a St. Cloud barrage late in the first period, but the score remained 3-0 into the first intermission.
SCSU had two power play opportunities in the second period, but Tech killed them both without allowing a shot on goal. David Johnstone extended the lead with a rebound of his own shot from the slot. Jujhar Khaira picked up the only assist as he fed it from the side of the the net to Johnstone.
Goaltender Ryan Faragher was replaced by Rasmus Reijola following the goal.
The visiting Huskies entered the second intermission with a 4-0 lead.
As expected, SCSU came out with a strong start to the third period. Tech weathered the storm with Phillips making several key saves.
The Black and Gold added some insurance at the 8:28 mark with a fifth goal on a well-executed faceoff play. Blake Pietila won the draw, Kero picked up the puck and sent a pass to Alex Petan waiting in front of the net. Petan tipped it through Reijola’s five-hole for his third point of the night and 13th goal of the season.
St. Cloud broke up the shutout with 2:44 remaining to play as Jimmy Murray beat Phillips on a wrap-around.
Phillips finished with 16 saves in the first period, eight in the second and 13 in the third for his first career win. It was nearly Tech’s fourth shutout this season.
Tech’s penalty kill was a huge part of its success Saturday. The Black and Gold held St. Cloud scoreless on seven man advantages. Tech was 0-for-2 on the power play.
Michigan Tech (11-17-4, 7-15-4 WCHA) will return home for its regular season finale against Colorado College. Games are both Friday and Saturday at 7:07 p.m.