Heated Huskies down 1-0

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – Michigan Tech lost its cool, its second leading scorer to injury and its Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoff opener Friday night.

The Huskies outshot North Dakota 34-24, but racked up 42 penalty minutes and gave up two power play goals to the nation’s No. 2 power play unit since the start of 2013. Tech, which owns the nation’s best power play unit in the second half, lost 5-3 to No. 4-ranked and third-seeded UND at Ralph Engelstad Arena.

“I walk out of here feeling that we were the better team tonight,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said after the game to WKMJ-FM. “… We battled and battled and battled. We did a lot of things well, but it’s the penalties, a bad turnover … we didn’t keep the puck out of our net.”

David Johnstone, who has 29 points this season, was leveled shoulder-to-shoulder at center ice midway through the first period and later reports revealed a broken clavicle. The hit garnered a 5-minute contact-to-the-head penalty on Andrew MacWilliam in a game that quickly deteriorated into a chippy penalty fest.

Normally calm-and-cool Tech freshman and leading scorer Alex Petan lost his temper early in the third period and was ejected, 28 seconds after three of Tech’s top defensemen (Steven Seigo, Riley Sweeney, Dan Sova) were already in the penalty box.

North Dakota senior forward Danny Kristo made Tech pay on the power play at the 4:33 mark of the third to make it 4-2 UND, and Kristo made it 5-3 UND at 16:12 after Sweeney had trimmed the deficit with a fluke goal from half ice.

Kristo has three points in all three games against Tech this year, and now 17 in nine career games against the Huskies.

UND opened the scoring with Michael Parks’ seventh goal of the season, a pass out front that deflected past Tech freshman goaltender Jamie Phillips off Sova’s skate 7:03 into the game.

But Ryan Furne answered back for Tech 7:35 later with a one-time power play goal, with Petan and Jujhar Khaira both picking up their 19th assists of the season.

The teams again exchanged goals, with Dillon Simpson putting UND up 2-1 on the power play just 1:53 before first intermission, and Tech’s Jacob Johnstone deadlocking the score just 1:48 after intermission.

Both of Jacob Johnstone’s goals this season have come when brother David was out with an injury.

Unfortunately for Tech, UND’s Derek Rodwell picked up his second goal of the season as well late in the second period – his only other goal came Dec. 14 in Houghton. Tech dominated shots 25-14 through two periods.

But early in the third it all fell apart with penalties. Tech racked up 36 penalty minutes in the third period alone, with 24 of those wrapped up in Petan’s tantrum. He was called for roughing and slashing minors, a 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.

“We have to keep our cool, but our guys fought hard,” Pearson said.

Tech hit several posts throughout the game, and UND goaltender Zane Gothberg made 31 saves to earn the win.

Tech will look to keep its season alive tonight in Game 2 of the best-of-three series. Faceoff is slated for 8:07 p.m., and the game will be televised on Fox College Sports Central.