MANKATO, Minn. – Michigan Tech forced a Game 3 in their WCHA Semifinal series with No. 3 Minnesota State after the Huskies defeated the Mavericks 4-2 Saturday to snap their 15-game unbeaten streak.
Tech picked up its 20th win for the fourth straight season, getting goals from four different players and riding Patrick Munson's 31 saves. Raymond Brice scored the game-winner 12:04 into the second, and Dylan Steman buried an empty-netter with six seconds left to seal the victory.
"Our guys were tremendously resilient tonight," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "It was a great job by everyone hanging on at the end and winning in this building. Finally getting a win here came at a great time.
"We just beat the No. 3 team in the country with the longest winning streak in the country. I think we played better overall last night, and we know that there's more in our tank for Game 3."
Justin Misiak got scoring started 9:19 into the first period burying his eighth of the season and second against MSU. He chipped in a loose puck in the slot after neither team was able to control a faceoff.
MSU (29-8-1) tied it up 3:38 later when Jake Jaremko got a lucky break as the puck bounced off a Tech defender into the back of the net. Daniel Brickley assisted.
Mark Auk put the Huskies back in the lead with a long one-timer through traffic from Jake Jackson and Thomas Beretta with 4:40 left in the first. It was Auk's ninth of the season, giving Tech a 2-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
"Ray didn't have a great game last night, and he knew he needed to be a little better," added Shawhan. "He plays with so much pride and we just love having a guy with so much heart and passion for the game. He stepped up for sure."
The Mavericks drew to within one 69 seconds after Brice's goal on the power play when Dallas Gerads scored on a rebound after Munson made an initial save. Jaremko and Ian Scheid added assists.
MSU controlled much of the play in the third period but gave the Huskies a few chances. Gould recovered from a vicious hit earlier in the shift and went in on a breakaway 5:00 into the third. Connor LaCouvee was there for a save.
LaCouvee had a pair of saves on Brent Baltus midway through the period and stopped Gould on a 2-on-1 with under 3:00 to go.
On the other side of the ice, the Mavericks took 23 shots towards the net in the final frame. Munson stopped all 10 of the shots that got through, covering the puck time after time. The Tech defense blocked five shots and Brickley wrung one off the crossbar with 4:43 remaining.
LaCouvee was pulled for the extra attacker with 2:00 left and again with 1:00 left. With 16.5 seconds on the clock, Coach Shawhan used his timeout and on the ensuing play Dylan Steman won a faceoff and scored into the empty net for the 4-2 final.
Munson won his first game since November 25 at Alaska, getting his first start since February 2 at Bowling Green. He stopped 11 shots in the first, and 10 in each of the final two periods.
"I'm really happy for Packy getting in there and doing a good job for us," Shawhan said. "He made some big saves tonight. He's continued to work hard and stay positive even when we gave the reins to Devin."
Devin Kero, who started eight straight games, was out due to an injury that occurred in Game 1.
LaCouvee had 17 saves for the home team.
Auk had the save of the game with 20 seconds left in the second period with the Huskies holding on to a 3-2 lead. Munson got out of position and the puck squirted out to a wide-open Maverick, but Auk positioned himself in front of the net for the block and then cleared the puck out.
The win was Tech's first in Mankato since February 2012, going 0-9-2 since. The Huskies won 20 games for the fourth straight season, accomplishing the feat for the first time since 1972-76. Tech is now 20-16-5 overall this season.
The two teams will meet in a decisive Game 3 for the second year in a row. Puck drop is set for 8:07 p.m. Sunday at the Verizon Center.
"We got a chance to get ourselves in position to play for another WCHA Championship," said Shawhan. "We have a lot of work to do to get ready for tomorrow night. We have some adjustments to make, but I like where we're at."
The winner will advance to the one game WCHA Championship where the Jeff Sauer Trophy and the league's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament will be on the line. The Northern Michigan versus Bowling Green series in Marquette is also going to a Game 3.