Huskies break down late

MANKATO, Minn. – Michigan Tech played toe-to-toe with No. 17-ranked Minnesota State for 56 minutes before the hosts scored three goals including an empty net tally for a 3-0 victory in WCHA action Friday at Verizon Wireless Center. The Huskies and Mavericks, both with a lot on the line, traded scoring chances and penalty kills in a toss-up game into the final minutes.

Tech fell to 14-17-6 overall and 12-11-4 in the WCHA. With the results of other games around the league (not including the Alaska Anchorage at Alaska contest), the Huskies are in a three-way tie for third place.

MSU (22-13-0 overall, 20-7-0 WCHA) held an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal and the territorial advantage in the first period.

Michigan Tech bounced back in the second. Both teams had four power play chances and 12 shots on net. Tanner Kero had a good shorthanded opportunity late in the period that drew a Mavericks’ penalty.

Tech controlled play early in the third period with chances from Malcolm Gould and C.J. Eick. MSU netminder Cole Huggins was up to the challenge both times.

Pheonix Copley also played a strong game in goal. He earned Superior Player of the Game honors for keeping the game scoreless into the third frame.

The ice breaker by the Mavericks came with just 3:48 remaining as a shot from the left point to the back door was tipped by Dylan Margonari behind Copley.

With the Black and Gold pressing to knot the game, MSU scored again with 2:54 remaining-this time on a wrap-around feed to Chase Grant for a tap in.

The hosts added the empty net tally with 1:09 showing to seal the victory.

“We got stronger as the game wore on,” said coach Mel Pearson. “We played a great road game for the most part. We limited their scoring chances, got good goaltending from Pheonix and created some of our own chances. We just didn’t take advantage of our power plays or other scoring opportunities.”

Huggins finished with 26 saves to earn the shutout and keep his team in a tie for first place in the WCHA standings. Copley stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced.

Both teams were 0-for-5 on the man advantage in the game.

“You can see why they’ve only lost once at home all year. They’re a really-good skating team,” said Pearson.

“It’s a tough loss. We’ve got to regroup and find a way to win a game tomorrow.”

Depending upon the results of the late game in Alaska, Tech will at worst still be in a tie for fourth place in the standings with one game to go. The top four teams host first-round WCHA playoff series next weekend.

The teams wrap up the regular season tonight at 8:07 p.m. ET.