DULUTH, Minn. - Freshman Mike Neville scored with 6:07 remaining to tie tonight's Michigan Tech hockey game at Minnesota Duluth, and the non-conference tilt ended with the Huskies winning a shootout. Officially, the game will be recorded as a 1-1 tie, making Tech's record 0-1-1 on the young season.
Michigan Tech seemed to improve as the game wore on. The visitors had the better scoring chances down the stretch including three shots on goal and a pair of shorthanded opportunities in the extra session.
"I couldn't be prouder of the team tonight," said head coach Mel Pearson. "We played with much more grit, we were strong on the puck all night, and I'm really pleased with our conditioning level. It allowed us to roll all four lines and go hard all the way through overtime."
UMD scored its goal 13:51 into the first period with a power-play marker. Joe Basaraba poked in a rebound past goaltender Jamie Phillips.
Tech held an 11-8 advantage in shots on goal in the second period and had a five-minute major power play in the stanza, but still couldn't solve UMD netminder Matt McNeely.
Neville finally broke through in the closing minutes. The puck was thrown on net, but remained just atop the crease. An off-balance Neville reached back to collect the puck and fired it into the upper corner of the net as he was falling down to record his first career goal. Max Vallis and Blake Hietala drew assists on the play.
Tech dictated action in the overtime, even after Shane Hanna was called for a slash. Tanner Kero created two shorthanded scoring chances in the final two minutes.
With Minnesota Duluth being part of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference which will utilize shootouts to decide conference games, the teams followed that protocol.
Freshman Tyler Heinonen and Kero both scored goals while Phillips stopped both shots he faced to win the shootout.
Tech finished with a 26-22 advantage in shots on goal. Phillips was strong in net with 21 saves in his first start of 2013-14. McNeely made 25 saves for UMD.
"It's a good feeling in the locker room tonight," said Pearson. "We might be a little snake bitten right now with scoring, but we were the better team. This will give us momentum heading into another tough non-conference series next weekend."
Michigan Tech will play the first of two games at No. 8 Notre Dame next Friday (Oct. 18) at 7 p.m.