So close, yet again, against Michigan Tech.
The Chargers were 2:19 away from their first-ever victory over the Huskies, but Jake Lucchini’s goal with 11.4 seconds left in regulation forced a 4-4 tie Saturday night at the Von Braun Center.
Michigan Tech (16-9-7 overall, 13-3-6 WCHA) earned the second point in the WCHA standings after a nine-round shootout. The Huskies drew within four points of first-place Bemidji State in the standings.
UAH (7-18-3 overall, 7-12-3 WCHA) snapped a five-game WCHA point-less streak, but the Chargers still haven’t won since Dec. 10. UAH is now 0-12-2 all-time against Michigan Tech, with both ties coming this season.
The Chargers had three leads in the contest, including a 2-0 lead after the first period, and a 4-3 lead after Matt Salhany beat MTU goaltender Angus Redmond high from the left circle with 2:19 to go.
With the point, UAH holds the eighth and final WCHA playoff spot, five points clear of Alaska Anchorage and Northern Michigan, with six games remaining. The Chargers sit three points out of seventh place behind Alaska, whom UAH visits in Fairbanks next weekend.
UAH came out with the best period its ever had against Michigan Tech, getting plenty of scoring opportunities not normally gotten against the Huskies, and capitalizing with two goals.
The first game at 3:54, while the Chargers were shorthanded from a Brent Fletcher interference penalty. Hans Gorowsky pucked up a lose puck at the MTU blue line, took it up the right side, and curved toward the net. He deked goaltender Angus Redmond and scored his sixth goal of the season.
Then with 11:39 left, UAH got a goal on the power play after Gavin Gould was called for tripping. Kurt Gosselin, returning to lineup after serving a game disqualification on Friday, one-timed a Brandon Parker pass from the right point for his team-leading goal of the season. Parker’s helper was his seventh of the season, and Austin Beaulieu also assisted.
The Chargers kept the same pace for the first few minutes of the second, but Tech asserted itself and took the shots lead.
Connor James went off for elbowing for his third penalty of the series, and Michigan Tech capitalized. A Matt Roy shot was nearly stopped by UAH goaltender Jordan Uhelski, but the puck appeared to squeeze under his arm and in the net with 10:34 left of the second to cut the Chargers’ lead to 2-1.
The Huskies had numerous chances for the equalizer as the second period closed during another power play from a Brennan Saulnier holding call. They had four shots on goal, including a Uhelski glove save on Jake Lucchini just before the buzzer.
Then came a frantic third period which featured five goals and five penalties.
Michigan Tech tied the game at the 6:30 mark, as Matt Roy notched his second goal of the game.
Two interference penalties following a UAH holding call gave the Chargers a 4-on-3 power play, and UAH retook the lead on an odd bounce.
Brennan Saulnier’s shot went over the net, bounced off the glass, and off Redmond’s back and in. With 9:20 to go in regulation, UAH had a 3-2 lead on Saulnier’s third goal of the season, assisted by Gosselin and Parker.
Just 37 seconds later, MTU tied it up 3-3. Mitch Reinke’s shot from near the left circle bounced off Uhelski’s pad and in.
Then game Salhany’s goal for the 4-3 Charger lead with 2:19 left, a snipe from the left circle that just got under the crossbar.
Lucchini’s tying goal with 11.4 seconds remaining came with the extra attacker.
The Huskies outshot UAH 4-1 in the regulation overtime 3-1 as they continued their relentless pressure, but Uhelski came up big, including a glove save on a Reid Sturos blast with 3:24 to go.
With no scoring, the game officially became a 4-4 tie. In the 3-on-3 overtime to determine which team would get the extra WCHA point, there was no scoring, but numerous 2-on-1 chances on both sides, with Uhelski and Redmond coming up big.
Both goaltenders continued strong play to extend the sudden-death shootout, which was the first for UAH in the WCHA. The Chargers used Josh Kestner, Gosselin, Brandon Salerno, Jordan Larson, Hans Gorowsky, Tyler Poulsen, Saulnier, James, and Salhany.
Chris Gerrie finally beat Uhelski in the ninth round, and Salhany was stopped by Redmond to end it.
Uhelski made 31 saves as the Huskies outshot the Chargers 35-23.
The Chargers return to the VBC in two weeks to host Bemidji State.