HOUGHTON, Mich. – Senior defenseman Shane Hanna scored 6:35 into the second overtime to send Michigan Tech to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years and secure the Broadmoor Trophy as winners of the 2017 WCHA Tournament. The Huskies won 3-2 over Bowling Green Saturday (March 18).
In the most anticipated game in the history of the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena—a rink that was opened in 1972—it took over 86 minutes to decide the WCHA Championship in front of a sellout crowd.
Hanna, an assistant captain, was alone on the Bowling Green blue line and Matt Roy sent him a perfect tape-to-tape pass as he walked in on a breakaway. Hanna fired the puck over the glove of Falcon goaltender Chris Nell to send the crowd into a frenzy as his teammates rushed the ice to celebrate. Michael Neville added the second assist moving the puck off the wall back to Roy.
"Great players make things happen," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "You can draw the X's and O's up all you want but once in a while you have to create something. He's as good as any defenseman in this league."
For Hanna, it was his eighth goal of the season and team-leading 89th career point.
"We had good control and they were changing," Hanna said. "I hopped up hoping for something to happen, and Matt found me like he usually does in practice. It worked out.
"This is an awesome experience. It's hard to put into words what it means to everyone on this team."
The Huskies went up 2-0 in the second period. Joel L'Esperance scored 4:53 after the first intermission, burying his 11th of the season with a five-hole shot on Nell. Alex Gillies stole the puck in the offensive zone and fed it out front to L'Esperance.
Jake Jackson made it 2-0 at the 12:25 mark, scoring his 10th of the season. Hanna screened Nell, and Jackson calmly carried the puck across the zone and fired it into the wide-open net. Neville and Hanna both assisted on the play as the teams were skating 4-on-4.
BGSU (21-18-2) used two quick goals in the third period to tie it up. Joe McKeown scored 6:36 into the frame, finishing off a passing play from Alec Rauhauser and Tyler Spezia.
The Falcons evened it up only 24 seconds later as Matt Pohlkamp capitalized on a turnover behind the Tech net.
BGSU outshot the Huskies 11-2 in the third period but couldn't get the go-ahead goal past Angus Redmond who finished with a career-high 36 saves.
"We needed to get out of that third period," said Pearson. "We were able to reset and refocus in the overtime."
The home team had some great scoring chances in the first extra session. L'Esperance found himself alone in front of the net 9:00 in, but a Bowling Green defenseman was able to deflect his shot over the net from behind.
Jackson had a backhander saved by Nell 2:00 later after being patient with the puck in the offensive zone.
Redmond came up with a game-saving stop with 8:33 left in the game, flashing the leather on Pohlkamp who was wide-open in front of the net.
Alex Smith hit the crossbar with 5:00 remaining and with 7.1 seconds left there was a scramble in front of Redmond that was loose in the crease. Officials reviewed the play, but the puck never crossed the goal line.
Each team had only one power play in the game. The game-winner was also scored on 4-on-4 after a crosschecking call on BGSU and an embellishment call on Tech.
Shots were 38-30 in favor of the Falcons. Nell had 27 saves for the visitors.
"If you said at the beginning of the season that we were going to overtime in the WCHA Championship Game, we all would've taken it," L'Esperance said. "We just needed to stick with the game plan and do what we need to do."
WCHA Commissioner Bill Robertson awarded the Three Stars to Matt Pohlkamp (third star), Angus Redmond (second star), and Shane Hanna (first star and Most Outstanding Player) before handing the Broadmoor Trophy to captains Cliff Watson, Brent Baltus, Shane Hanna, Michael Neville, and Reid Sturos. Coach Pearson invited all the fans on to the ice shortly after.
"It's more than the team," added Pearson. "We're just part of the community and this great university. We've had varsity hockey for 96 years, and there's a great tradition here. We've had some lean years, and it's important to share this with the community."
Tech now heads to the NCAA Tournament for the 13th time in school history. The Huskies will learn their opponent and regional location on Sunday at noon during the NCAA selection show on ESPNU.
"I give credit to our players," Pearson said. "We've got a great group of guys. I went around the room after the third period and told each one of them that I was so proud of them and happy they were on our team. I shook each one of their hands. I care deeply about these guys and they've given so much to our university, this community, and our program.
"They've worked so hard and earned this opportunity. I know they were disappointed we didn't get to the NCAA Tournament last year. I'm happy to get back and get another shot at it."
GAME NOTES: Tech has now won four straight over BGSU and are undefeated in seven of the last eight meetings…Joel L'Esperance leads the team with eight (3g-5a) points in the playoffs…Jake Jackson has five goals in the last seven games… Tech has now played in five WCHA playoff championship games (1962, 1965, 1996, 2015, and 2017)…Tech last won the WCHA Championship out right in 1965… The Huskies also earned WCHA co-playoff titles in 1960, 1969, 1970, 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1981.