- Game Highlights
- Mel Pearson Interview
- Michael Neville Interview
- Chris Leibinger Interview
- Photo Gallery
HOUGHTON, Mich. – Michigan Tech handed No. 13 Bemidji State its first WCHA loss of the season with a 2-1 victory Saturday (Dec. 3) night from the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Michael Neville scored the game winner with 3:19 left on the third period clock to secure Tech's 10th win of the season.
"It was a real good college hockey game against two very evenly-matched teams," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "We were fortunate to get the bounce tonight. We got the break that they got last night. It's a big three points to stay close to them in the standings."
Tech is now 10-7-3 overall and 9-3-2-1 in the WCHA. The Huskies trail Bemidji State by eight points in the league standings.
Tied at one late in the third period, Cliff Watson took a shot from the top of the zone toward the net. The shot was redirected by Reid Sturos to Neville who blasted in his second goal of the weekend and fourth of the season to put the MacInnes Student Ice Arena crowd—who was waiting for overtime—into a frenzy.
"Mike did a good job playing against one of their top lines all weekend," added Pearson. "The goal he scored last night was big and tonight's was even bigger. He's a senior, he's a leader, and he's having his best season so far and that's nice to see."
BSU (12-5-1, 10-1-1-1 WCHA) added the extra attacker with 1:27 left. Sturos had a chance at the empty net before the Beavers got two shots off that were blocked and wide. A faceoff to the left of Tech goaltender Angus Redmond with five tenths of a second left seemed to take an eternity but the officials finally dropped the puck and the clock ran out.
Chris Leibinger scored his team-leading sixth goal of the season 5:56 into the game to give Tech the lead for the second night in a row. His line mates Alex Gillies and Mason Blacklock assisted on the play after the trio almost scored moments before.
"I can't say enough about Chris Liebinger," Pearson said. "He's not concerned with who he's playing with or what position he plays. He just wants our team to have success."
Redmond kept the lead in the home team's favor with a phenomenal save on Jay Dickman who was alone in front of the net seven minutes after Leibinger's goal.
Tech again found the back of the net with 4:31 left in the first, but the goal was waved off after goaltender interference.
The Beavers hit the crossbar midway through the second period and then finally found the equalizer with only 8.7 seconds left in the frame, as Charlie O'Connor jammed in a loose puck in front of Redmond.
L'Esperance had a chance to take the lead 5:00 into the third on a breakaway but couldn't settle a bouncing puck.
The Huskies outshot the Beavers 34-18 with 14 in the first and 13 in the third. Michael Bitzer had 32 saves for BSU while Redmond finished with 17.
Tech was whistled for four minor penalties and Bemdji was called for three. Both teams went scoreless on the man advantage.
Saturday was Econo Foods Kids Day. Econo Foods purchased 500 youth tickets for kids 14 and under, and Saturday's attendance was the second largest of the season with 3,064 fans.
The Huskies head back on the road next weekend (Dec. 9-10) to Bowling Green for the final WCHA series of 2016. The puck drops at 7:07 p.m. both nights from BGSU Ice Arena.
"It doesn't get any easier next weekend," said Pearson. "They were picked to win our league and we're on the road again. I'm really proud of the way this team has played at the beginning of the season with all of our road games, and I know that we'll be ready next weekend."