CINCINNATI – The 2016-17 Michigan Tech hockey season came to end in the NCAA Midwest Regional Semifinal Saturday (March 25) after top-ranked Denver defeated the No. 19-ranked Huskies 5-2 at U.S. Bank Arena. Tech's final record stands at 23-15-7.
Tech surrendered four goals in the first period, before battling back to a 5-2 margin late in the second. Neither team scored in the third and Denver advanced to the regional championship game Sunday (March 26).
"I want to congratulate Denver," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "They've got a very good team. They play with a lot of pace, energy, and quickness. They're very talented.
"We obviously didn't get off to the start we wanted. Everything that could've went wrong, went wrong. We lost our best penalty killer in the first 30 seconds of the game when Mike Neville went down. From that point it seemed like things got away from us.
"I give our guys a lot of credit though. A lot of teams could've thrown in the towel, but these guys have worked hard all year, and they hung in there until the end."
The Huskies entered the second period with a four-goal deficit and the Pioneers quickly made it 5-0 6:26 in.
From that point on, Tech controlled much of the play. On their only power play of the game, Gavin Gould buried his 12th of the season, and team-leading seventh on the man advantage, to put the Huskies on the board at the 14:04 mark of the second. Assists went to Mitch Reinke and Shane Hanna.
Jake Lucchini scored with 4.7 seconds on the second period clock to give the Huskies—and their large contingent of fans—hope, heading into the final frame. Jake Jackson and Joel L'Esperance assisted on Lucchini's 11th of the season.
"Obviously when you're down 5-1 you need to start somewhere," Lucchini said. "I think we had the attitude we needed going into the third period. We just needed to execute better."
There was no scoring in the third period as the Pioneers outshot Tech 34-18 in the game, with 17 of those shots coming in the first period.
Colin Staub buried the first two goals of the game on the power play. He scored 4:42 after puck drop and just over 8:00 later.
Emil Romig and Will Butcher scored 35 seconds apart for DU's third and fourth goals.
Angus Redmond had 29 saves between the pipes for the Huskies, finishing his freshman season with a 22-10-5 record. Tanner Jaillet stopped 16-of-18 shots for DU.
It was the final game for Michigan Tech's eight seniors who won 89 games—the most since the 1984 senior class. This year's seniors were forwards Brent Baltus, Tyler Heinonen, Chris Leibinger, Michael Neville, Reid Sturos, defensemen Shane Hanna and Cliff Watson, and goaltender Matt Wintjes.
The class took the Huskies to the NCAA Tournament twice, won the MacNaughton Cup as WCHA regular season champs last season, won the Broadmoor Trophy as WCHA tournament champs this season, and were ranked the No. 1 team in the nation in 2014-15 after a program-best 10-0 start.