Lapses lead to loss against Lakers

HOUGHTON – Three minutes of disaster ruined the Michigan Tech hockey team’s three-game home winning streak Friday night.

Carrying a 2-0 lead into the first intermission against now-WCHA rivals Lake Superior State, the Lakers (6-2-1) scored three times in a three-minute stretch to open the second period and wrest the lead and an eventual 5-3 win (with an empty-netter) over the Huskies.

The Huskies (3-7-1) didn’t do themselves any favors either, with Walker Hyland giving up a rarely seen penalty shot after getting beat to a 50/50 puck and sophomore Alex Petan earning a 5-minute major for facemasking at the end of the second period.

The errors marred an otherwise solid game from the Huskies, who outshot Lake State 36-25 and came within inches on several occasions of tying the game late in the third period.

“Three minutes of the second period,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “Otherwise I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. … after that I thought we battled hard. We got it to 4-3 and had some great chances, but when you are playing from behind it takes a lot of energy out of you and sometimes you just don’t get the bounces.”

“We didn’t play a 60 minute game,” Tech captain Blake Pietila added.

“Those three minutes killed us. Just one thing after another compounded and it kind of took the wind out of our sails.”

Lake State started it with Matt Johnson shooting into an open net after Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley had sprawled to make an initial save.

Hyland took a hooking penalty just over two minutes later when Zach Sternberg outskated him to a loose puck and the officials awarded a penalty shot after the takedown in front of the net.

Sternberg deked once before going backhand and flipping the shot over Copley’s blocker.

It was a situation the Huskies don’t practice – with no shootouts in the WCHA – but the Lakers will drill occasionally thanks to their old affiliation with the CCHA and its overtime configuration.

“We don’t practice that,” Pearson said.

“I can’t remember the last time we saw a penalty shot.”

“We play a game every home Thursday called ‘apple-onion’ where we have this contest where the winner eats an apple, and if you don’t score after six rounds you have to eat the onion,” Lakers coach Jim Roque said. “But we had been in shootouts the last few years in (the CCHA) and we just did it at Wisconsin a couple weeks ago too.”

The Lakers took full advantage of any momentum gained when Eric Drapluk slammed a slap shot from the blue line through traffic and past Copley.

“I thought Pheonix was a little off tonight,” Pearson said. “I didn’t like the third goal. Normally he will make that save. Again, he had some good saves, but you have to stop the ones you should. The margin of error is so fine with these teams.”

As the hitting and chippiness intensified, tempers boiled over after the second period horn blew when Alex Petan and Kevin Czuczman got into it, with Petan charged two minutes for roughing and five minutes for facemasking with Czuczman earning a minor penalty for holding.

The Lakes capitalized on the major quickly to start the final period, with Alex Globke scoring from the slot after a nifty fake and pass from Johnson set him up.

“They said Alex actually rubbed his facemask,” Pearson said of his conversation with the officials after the period ended.

“I just thought it was a tough call because it really had an impact on the game, and sure enough they scored to get that two goal margin.”

Tech rebounded nicely in the third period, getting a goal back on a five-on-three when Petan one-timed a Kero pass to the slot. The Huskies couldn’t find the equalizer, however, despite five minutes of productive rushing and crashing the net at the end.

Lake State’s Garret Clemment ended the comeback attempt with an empty net tally.

“It would hit a guy, or (Kapalka) made the save or it just tipped wide,” Pearson said of the third period. “We didn’t get a lot of breaks or bounces tonight.”