Michigan Tech started the 2012–13 conference play against the #1 ranked Minnesota Gophers. With Pheonix Copley anchoring the home team in net, the Huskies came out and dominated the Gophers, coming away with a 5-3 win on Friday night. The second game of the weekend fans saw a different Huskies team, one that was outplayed and frustrated by an aggressive Gopher forecheck. Eventually the Huskies fell to the Gophers 3-2.
Huskies rode the solid play of Copley in net and had an excellent game by the energy line on their way to a big win against the top rated Gophers. A highlight reel goal started the scoring for the Huskies, when Alex Petan took a pass on his stomach, got to his knees and beat the Gopher netminder top shelf. The Gophers tied the game late in the first, but the Huskies answered right back, getting a power play goal from Blake Pietila (tipped on a Ryan Furne shot) and a quick goal from Dennis Rix. "I took away a goal from Furne there," said Pietila. "I got a lucky stick on it and got it over the shoulder of the goalie".
In the second, Minnesota scored first, but again, the Huskies answered quickly, getting a goal from Chad Pietila to regain a two goal lead and chase the Gophers starting goalie. Then nearing the end of the period, Blake Pietila scored his second of the night when Tanner Kero made a beautiful no look pass that allowed Pietila to find the back of the net.
The third saw one goal from Minnesota and excellent play by Copley. "The defense was great in front of me," said Copley, "they kept the play outside and cleaned up the rebounds. They made my job a lot easier." Even with the extra attacker, the Huskies held strong and shocked the #1 team in the nation, 5-3.
- No 1 Better than Tech Friday – Daily Mining Gazette
- Tech hands Gophers a WCHA Road Upset – Star Tribune
- Hockey Huskies Beat No. 1 Minnesota 5-3 – Michigan Tech Athletics
- Minnesota Falls to Michigan Tech in WCHA Opener – Minnesota Athletics
After a big win Friday night, the Huskies knew the Gophers would come out strong Saturday night. They did and the Michigan Tech was on their heels from the beginning. The away team jumped into the lead, taking a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but it could have been worse, Copley came up big many times in the first. In the second, the Huskies tied it up off the stick of Chad Pietila. After going down 2-1, it was Furne who got his first goal of the year and tied the game at two heading into the third. The No.1 Gophers were too much as they got one more past Copley in the third to gain a split on the weekend with a 3-2 win.
When asked what he had to say about the Saturday night game, Head Coach Mel Pearson replied, "Disappointed. I think Minnesota showed why they are ranked #1." Pearson continued, "I thought our guys battled hard, we were in the game, 2-2 near the end and we had a great scoring chance. We know now that we can play with anybody."
Copley played both nights, ending the weekend 1-1 with 59 saves on 65 shots, increasing his chances of becoming the #1 goalie for the Huskies.
- Gophers get away with split – Daily Mining Gazette
- Gophers top Michigan Tech for Lucia's 600th win – Star Tribune
- No. 1 Minnesota Edges Tech 3-2, Split Series – Michigan Tech Athletics
- Lucia Earns 600th Career Wins in 3-2 Victory Over Huskies – Minnesota Athletics
Chad Pietila started the season with an injury, but returned to the line up this weekend against the Gophers, making his presence known from the start. He was on a line with Dennis Rix and C.J. Eick. In the win on Friday night, the line made up the entire 3 stars of the game, and Pietila was responsible for the game winning goal. Pietila also scored the next night, tying the game at 1. He hit the crossbar in the third and had the best scoring chance for the Huskies in the final two minutes of the game. "That line I can put out against anyone," said Pearson. "They do a lot of little things right."
Chad is now tied with his brother Blake with an average of 1 goal a game.