|1st||9:40||BGS||1-0||EV||Mitchell McLain (10)||Pierre-Luc Mercier/17, Tommy Burke/1|
|1st||11:29||MTU||1-1||EV||Reid Sturos (6)||Mark Auk/9, Blake Pietila/16|
|1st||16:49||MTU||2-1||EV||Tyler Heinonen (13)||David Johnstone/17, Cliff Watson/10|
|3rd||2:16||BGS||2-2||EV||Brent Tate (9)||Dajon Mingo/9, Sean Walker/15|
|3rd||5:23||MTU||3-2||EV GW||Tyler Heinonen (14)||David Johnstone/18, Mike Neville/8|
|3rd||7:54||MTU||4-2||EV||Mike Neville (3)||Mark Auk/10, David Johnstone/19|
|3rd||18:12||MTU||5-2||EV EN||Joel L'Esperance (7)||Tyler Heinonen/9|
|Shots on Goal||1st||2nd||3rd||SOG|
|Team Stats and Records||PP||PIM||SHGF|
|Bowling Green (23-11-5)||0/3||1/2||0|
|Michigan Tech (29-8-2)||0/1||3/6||0|
|Bowling Green Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Tommy Burke (L, 14-6-3)||59:03||4||8||7||12||27|
|Michigan Tech Goaltending||MIN||GA||1||2||3||Saves|
|Jamie Phillips (W, 28-7-2)||60:00||2||8||8||6||22|
By Robert Desimone for WCHA.com
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Tyler Heinonen scored two goals, David Johnstone added three assists and Jamie Phillips made 22 saves as the fourth-ranked Michigan Tech Huskies advanced to the 2015 WCHA Final Five championship game with a 5-2 win over the Bowling Green Falcons Friday afternoon at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. The Huskies snapped a 2-2, third-period tie with a trio of final stanza goals.
Mitchell McLain and Brent Tate each scored for Bowling Green, while Tommy Burke made 27 saves in the loss. Michigan Tech will play for the Broadmoor Trophy Saturday night, 6:07 PM at the Xcel Energy Center against either second-ranked Minnesota State or Ferris State.
Michigan Tech entered the game already considered a lock for the NCAA Tournament, but looking for its first conference championship since 1981, also their last NCAA Tournament appearance.
After a slow start to the first period, Bowling Green struck first at 9:40 when Pierre-Luc Mercier centered a pass from the right wing that was deflected in front by a streaking Mitchell McLain on just the Falcons' fourth shot of the game. Burke received the second assist on the play.
It was McLain's 10th goal of the season and also the sixth goal scored by a freshman for Bowling Green in the playoffs this year.
Less than two minutes later, the Huskies struck back. Blake Pietila set up Mark Auk on the left point with a nice cross-ice feed that allowed Auk to find a lane to the net. Auk's quick shot from the point was deflected in front by sophomore Reid Sturos for his sixth goal of the season at 11:29.
"It's huge, especially this time of year because goals are hard to come by," Michigan Tech Head Coach Mel Pearson said about responding so quickly. "It was a good bounce back for our guys to be able to get the game even."
The Huskies were not finished in the fist period, though, as Heinonen struck late at 16:49 with his 13th of the year.
Michigan Tech again worked the puck back to the point and this time a deflected shot from David Johnstone fell to the left of Burke, where Heinonen was able to deke past the goaltender and slide it in on his backhand.
Heinonen, a sophomore from Delano, Minn., came into the game with nine points in his last nine games, including three points in last weekend's first round playoff series victory over Alabama Huntsville.
"I've been playing on the right side of the puck," Heinonen said of his recent scoring streak. "A lot of my goals have come from playing on the right side of the puck and beating guys up the ice, that's the key."
Both Phillips and Burke have been major parts of the respective success for both clubs this year, and it proved true again in the second period.
Early into the stanza, Michigan Tech had an opportunity to extend the lead when Joel L'Esperance snuck in behind the defense, but his deke to the backhand was denied by Burke to keep it a 2-1 game. Burke made seven saves in the second period for his club to keep the Falcons within striking distance.
Both coaches knew special teams would play a big part in the outcome and Bowling Green received the first power-play of the game midway through the second period.
Michigan Tech successfully killed the penalty, but the Falcons increased the pressure with a number of great chances in front of the net, including a deflection off the stick of McLain that was turned away by Phillips.
"He was Jamie Phillips, his record is what it is," said Bowling Green Head Coach Chris Bergeron of Phillips effort. "The frustrating part is that we stressed execution and our game plan and we just weren't able to get to that part." Later in the second period Phillips made another great save off a scramble in front, when Tyler Spezia broke into the offensive zone on the rush. Spezia cut to the middle and sent a backhanded shot towards the net, but Phillips made the initial save and covered with numerous bodies crashing in on him.
"Jamie was outstanding," Coach Pearson added. "From day one he's watched over our team. There's a reason he's a finalist for the Mike Richter Award, he's been solid for us all year." Bowling Green then received another opportunity on the power-play after a big check by Cliff Watson sent him to the penalty box for roughing. Once again the penalty kill came up big and preserved the 2-1 lead for the Huskies heading to the third period. Bowling Green finished the game 0-for-3 on the power-play with one shot on goal.
Bowling Green was granted its third consecutive power-play just four seconds into the third period as the Falcons looked for the equalizer, and found one just moments after the power-play expired.
A successful penalty kill gave Michigan Tech a shorthanded 2-on-1 but the shot went wide. On the counter, Bowling Green entered the zone and a point shot from Dajon Mingo was deflected by Brent Tate. The goal was Tate's ninth on the season and came 11 seconds after the power-play expired.
The goal gave a big boost to Bowling Green, but was short lived when Michigan Tech answered quickly as Heinonen once again proved his knack for scoring big goals.
Playing in his own zone, Johnstone cleared the puck into an open area in the neutral zone. Heinonen split the defense and chased down the puck for a breakaway, firing the shot over the left shoulder of Burke for his second of the game and a 3-2 Michigan Tech lead at 5:23.
The Huskies added an insurance marker at 7:54 of the third as Mike Neville deflected another shot by Auk from the left point. The assist was Auk's ninth of the year, and second of the game. Johnstone received the second assist, his third assist of the game and second three-assist game this season.
"We really fought the puck but we got better as the game went on," Coach Pearson said. "We've been in a lot of tight games and found a way to get it done, credit that to our senior leadership and the team."
Le'Esperance added his seventh goal of the season into an empty-net for Michigan Tech at 18:12, giving the Huskies the 5-2 margin. The assist for Heinonen was his ninth of the season and marked his first 3-point game.
With the loss, the Falcons must await their fate for an NCAA Tournament bid as they sit on the bubble and wait for other conference tournaments to finish.
"It's out of our control now," senior captain Dan DeSalvo said. "Going into the game I told the guys, 'let's put fate in our hands and not rely on other people.' But like I said, it's out of our control now."
For Michigan Tech, they await the winner of Minnesota State and Ferris State for the opportunity at the Broadmoor Trophy and the WCHA's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
"It's a huge challenge, but a great opportunity," added Coach Pearson. "Who would have thought we'd be in this situation at the start of the year. I credit these guys, especially our seniors. I know Husky Nation will be out in full force."