Huskies get caged by Denver

Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson, above center, reacts during a time out in the second period in the regional semifinals of the NCAAtournament against Denver, Saturday in Cincinnati. (AP photo)

MARQUETTE — The Michigan Tech hockey team’s smooth ride through the postseason slammed into a wall Saturday afternoon during the NCAA Midwest Regional semifinal game in Cincinnati.

That wall was the top-seeded Denver defense as it suffocated the Huskies almost the entire game. The Pioneers offense also was effective from the start as they scored five straight goals to start the game en route to a 5-2 win.

Denver (30-7-4) struck first early in the opening period. With the Pioneers on the power play, Colin Staub tipped a shot from Adam Plant past Tech goalie Angus Redmond.

Midway through the first, the Pioneers caught fire as they blitzed the Huskies (23-15-7) for three goals in less than three minutes. Staub notched his second power play goal when he tapped a rebound into a wide open net and later at the 14:51 mark, Denver took advantage of a key mistake by the Huskies. Redmond turned the puck over behind the net and Emil Romig put in an easy goal.

The Pioneers then capped off their scoring in the period at 26 seconds later when Hobey Baker Award finalist Will Butcher fired a rocket shot past Redmond to put Denver up 4-0.

Things continued to go badly for Tech in the second period. At the 6:26 mark,

Denver’s Tyson McLellan buries a loose puck into the back of the net to give the Pioneers a commanding 5-0 lead.

The Huskies didn’t give up though. At the 14:04 mark of the frame, Tech’s Gavin Gould finally got the Huskies on the scoreboard when he snapped a power play goal past DU goalie Tanner Jaillet. The Huskies later pulled within three of the Pioneers with just five seconds left in period on a weak shot by Jake Lucchini. Lucchini flung the puck at the net from a bad angle but the puck managed to get past Jaillet to make the score 5-2.

However, the Huskies couldn’t close the gap any further. Tech didn’t generate many opportunities in the third and its best one came when Joel L’Esperance rang a shot off the near post.

Denver moves on to play Penn State at 6 p.m. tonight in the Midwest Regional final.

Ryan Stieg can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252. His email address is rstieg@miningjournal.net.