UAH has got to beat Michigan Tech sometime. The Chargers have now made it a habit of getting close, but still need that key goal.
Michigan Tech rallied to beat UAH 5-4 on Friday in Houghton, Mich. in the WCHA conference opener for the Chargers. The Huskies (4-1-1 overall, 2-0-1 WCHA) are now 13-0-2 all-time against UAH (0-3-0 overall, 0-1-0 WCHA).
The Chargers arguably played their best game against the 15th-ranked Huskies, and held a 4-3 lead at the halfway point of the third period. But UAH’s penalty kill struggles continued, allowing three power play goals, including the one that relinquished that lead.
Jordan Uhelski did all he could to keep victory within reach, making 33 saves, including some critical stops in the third.
The game started inauspiciously for UAH, which is now 0-8-1 at Tech’s MacInnes Ice Arena.
A boarding call on Cam Knight just 25 seconds into the contest quickly put the Chargers on the penalty kill, which has struggled so far this season. And the struggles continued as Dane Birks’s blast from the left point put the Huskies up 1-0 at 1:41.
UAH weathered a cross-checking penalty on Brennan Saulnier before finally asserting itself on offense.
On a 3-on-2 break, Christian Rajic took a shot on Tech goaltender Patrick Munson from the high slot. Munson made the save on it and to rebound tries by Kurt Gosselin. The puck squirted out of the scramble to Rajic, who poked it past Munson’s right to tie the game with 13:15 left in the first.
Rajic’s goal, his first collegiate point, was assisted by Gosselin and Cam Knight.
The Huskies looked to take over the game with two goals in the middle of the second period. Mitch Reinke scored from near the blue line at 9:14, and Joel L’Esperance made it 3-1 Tech with yet another power play goal at the 13:16 mark.
The Chargers did not go away quietly, posting two power play goals of their own to finish off the second period. In fact, UAH was solid on that side of special teams, going 3-for-4 with the man advantage.
With 3:24 left, Saulnier notched his first goal of the season from Munson’s doorstep, deflecting a Brandon Salerno pass from the left point. Gosselin also got an assist on the play.
Josh Kestner tied the game at 3-3 with 1:14 remaining in the period. Tyler Poulsen took the puck in the right circle, waited for an opening, then slid it to Kestner in the left circle. Kestner then fired it top shelf past Munson for this second tally of the year. Knight was also credited with an assist.
L’Esperance almost put Tech up again in the final minute of the second, but Uhelski snatched the puck with his glove for a critical save.
At the end of two, it was even in just about every category. Each team had 20 shots on goal, three penalties, and two power play goals. UAH had a slight edge in faceoffs, 26-22.
With 12:29 left in the third, UAH took its only lead by converting its third straight power play opportunity. Kestner made a nifty pass to Poulsen in the right circle, close to the goal line, and found an opening past Munson.
Then came the Michigan Tech rally. After Gosselin was sent of for interference, Justin Misiak was left all alone on Uhelski’s doorstep, and Mark Auk found him. Misiak easily put in the equalizer with 9:48 left.
Then with 5:29 remaining, Jake Lucchini, who was earlier denied by Uhelski on a breakaway, scored the game-winner for MTU.
The Huskies outshot the Chargers 18-8 in the third and 38-28 for the game. Munson made 24 saves in net for Tech.
Game two of the series is Saturday at 6:07 p.m. CDT and can be seen on WCHA.tv.