Roman Augustoviz spends Minnesota's winters covering college hockey, specifically the Gophers, and other University of Minnesota sports. During the summer, he writes about the WNBA's Minnesota Lynx, with a dose of U sports sprinkled in. Follow him on Twitter @RomanStrib.

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Michigan Tech end's North Dakota' 14-game win streak in WCHA playoffs

Posted by: Roman Augustoviz under College hockey, Michigan Tech, North Dakota Updated: March 17, 2013 - 1:39 PM

Freshman goalie Pheonix Copley made 29 saves and C.J. Eick scored the game-winning goal with 2:02 left to play as  Michigan Tech, the 10th seed, stunned third-seeded North Dakota  2-1 on Saturday at The Ralph in the WCHA playoffs.

Deciding Game 3 of the best-of-three, first-round series is 7 p.m. Sunday. North Dakota, which has won the Broadmoor Trophy the past three years, had won 14 conference playoff games in a row. UND's last lost was to the Gophers in the second game of a three-game series in Grand Forks in 2010.

North Dakota (20-11-7) has played in the past 10 Final Fives.

Tech (13-19-4) held a 1-0 lead for much of the game after Tanner Kero tipped home a Blake Pietila shot 20 seconds into the second period. The teams were skating four-on-four at the time after Dennis Rix of Tech  was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for checking from behind and UND's Michael Parks was called for hooking at the end of the first period.

Kero's goal was the only scoring until late in the third period.

UND came with a lot of pressure then entire third period and had several grade A scoring chances. Copley, according to a Tech news release, made at least three saves on what looked like sure goals.

Danny Kristo, a senior wing from Eden Prairie, finally beat Copley with a wrister from the slot with 5:03 to play to tie the score at 1-1. It was his 24th goal of the season and third of the series.

On  Eick's winning goal,  teammate Brad Stebner took away the puck in the defensive zone and sent it rink-wide to Ryan Furne. Furne returned it across the neutral zone to Eick, who had a step on a defender. The freshman got his third  goal of the season on a backhand into the top left corner.

"I was trying to take it wide and get the puck on net,'' Eick said, according to a UND news release. "Ryan Furne made a great pass to put me on, I wouldn't say a breakaway, but I had a little step on them.''

Eick said he tried going short side with his shot. "I think he [Clark Saunders] was making the read I was going to cut to the far post, so he leaned and I tried to tuck it short side.''

His goal came about 30 seconds after UND freshman star Rocco Grimaldi  had a similar rush at Tech but slid his shot wide.

"We earned this win," said head coach Mel Pearson. "The guys did the little things it takes to win.

"I told them last night there's no moral victories. The guys really rallied, and we live to see another day."

Tech's win was its first win at Ralph Englestadt Arena since Mar. 15, 2008, when the Huskies defeated the Fighting Sioux 3-2 in overtime in game two of a WCHA playoff series.

Both teams used a different goaltender than last night and got strong play in net. Clarke Saunders made 29 saves including several key stops. His counterpart between the Huskies' pipes was the difference in the game.

Copley stopped nine shots in the first period, seven in the second and 13 in the third.

Tech nearly scored on the power play in the first five minutes of the game as Furne beat Saunders. Furne's shot was gloved away by a defenseman and play continued. The overhead replay showed the puck passing the cross bar, but the play was never reviewed.

The Huskies killed all four UND power plays in the game including the major to Rix. Tech went 0-for-3 on the man advantage.

"They pressed us hard in the third period, and we were able to come out on top," said Pearson. "[Sunday]'s going to be a heck of a hockey game."

UND pulled its goaltender for the extra attacker for the final 1:31, and Copley made several more saves.

It was a hard-fought playoff game,'' UND coach Dave Hakstol said. "We came up one goal short. We battled hard. It was kind of an up-and-down first period, I thought they carried the momentum in the second period and we had a good push throughout the third. But it wasn't enough.

"We didn't find a lot of holes on him [Copley].''

Copley had lost his previous four starts and given up 19 goals in those games. Go figure.

Kristo led UND in shots on goal with six, followed by Grimaldi with five.

"He's got to keep creating opportunities and make sure he gets pucks on net and keeps working hard,'' Hakstol said of Grimaldi.

"We've just go to come back and play an outstanding 60 minutes,'' Hakstol said. "It's two teams fighting to move on.''

Said UND captain Andrew MacWilliam, "It's playoff hockey. If you don't bring your best, you're not going to like the outcome. We kind of lulled there in the second period and it came back to bite us.''

 

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