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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Michigan Tech sweeps CC, off to WCHA Final Five

MTU Press Release

David Johnstone tipped home a Daniel Sova shot just 3:30 into overtime to send Michigan Tech to its first WCHA Final Five in five years with a 4-3 victory at Colorado College Saturday night.

Steven Seigo scored with just 1:05 left in regulation to send the game to overtime, then Johnstone notched his second goal of the game and third of the weekend to help the Huskies sweep the Tigers in the best-of-three first round WCHA playoff series.

“I got a piece of it and didn’t know it went in,” said Johnstone of the game-winner. “I saw my brother (Jacob) celebrate and that’s when I knew.”

Michigan Tech (16-18-4) looked as though it was headed to a decisive game three with CC as the Tigers (18-16-2) held a 3-2 lead late in the third period. The Huskies pulled Josh Robinson from net with 1:30 remaining to gain the extra attacker. It paid off as Seigo slapped a shot from the point through traffic to tie the game at the 18:55 mark. The Huskies had several more chances before the period ended, but couldn’t get the game winner.

After a full intermission, 20 minutes was put on the board. Only 3:30 was needed for the Huskies to get the game winner and improve to 4-0-4 in overtime games on the year. The visitors kept the puck in the offensive zone for more than a minute before Sova wound up and fired from the left point. David Johnstone deflected the shot inside the near post.

“This is a big win for our program,” said MTU coach Mel Pearson. “Our guys worked really hard and turned in a gutsy effort tonight. CC’s a good team and any team’s going to give you everything they’ve got when they’re facing elimination.

“I’m just so happy for our players and our alumni and fans as well.”

Johnstone had the game’s first and last goals on the night. He scored the game’s opening goal for the second straight game. Saturday’s came just 1:08 into the first as he collected a loose puck after a CC defenseman fell down. Johnstone fired a shot from the slot that beat Josh Thorimbert.

Just five minutes later, Huskies' senior captain Brett Olson made it a 2-0 Huskies’ advantage. With the teams skating 4-on-4, line mate Jordan Baker circled with the puck in the neutral zone, drawing three Tigers. He then fed a pass to Olson, who skated into the zone 1-on-1 with a defenseman and buried a shot into the top right corner.

CC got on the board at the 8:23 mark of the 1st as Archie Skalbeck and Andrew Hamburg worked a 2-on-1 breakaway after Tech’s Riley Sweeney had fallen down at his offensive blue line.

Hamburg scored again 3:50 into the second period to tie the game at two.

Tech was called for back-to-back penalties early in the third period, but killed off both including 15 seconds of 5-on-3. Not too long after that, CC scored the go-ahead goal as Scott Winkler wristed a shot from the right circle past Robinson.

The score remained 3-2 until late in the third, when Seigo scored the game-tying goal to send it to overtime.

The teams were a combined 0-for-7 on the power play tonight. Tech held a 41-32 advantage in shots on goal.

Robinson stood tall in net for the Huskies with 29 saves.

Michigan Tech will now make its first appearance at the WCHA Final Five since 2007, when it won a first-round series at CC two games to one. The Huskies will have to wait to see who they play. The Final Five is re-seeded after all the first-round series are completed.

Tech will either play North Dakota at 2 p.m. on Thursday (Mar. 15) or St. Cloud State at 7 p.m. on Thursday (Mar. 15) at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.

Notes: Tech is 4-1 vs. CC at World Arena in the WCHA playoffs and 0-28 in regular season games here … Johnstone grabbed a share the team lead in points with his four-point weekend. He and Olson are tied with 30 apiece.

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