The Michigan Tech Huskies came into the weekend looking to continue their home winning streak. Unfortunately, a rough stretch of the second period Friday night against No. 15 Lake Superior State cost them that chance. On Saturday, the Huskies came out flying and hitting hard, taking the game to the Lakers. In the end, the strategy worked as the Huskies got back on the winning track.
The Huskies jumped all over the Lakers in the first period. Winger Blake Hietala gave the hosts the lead just 1:25 in when he snatched up a puck behind the Lakers’ net and beat goaltender Kevin Kapalka with a wraparound. Just over two minutes later, the Huskies struck again as co-captain Brad Stebner’s shot just wide from the left point was tipped home by winger Malcolm Gould. The goal, which came at 3:41, was also assisted on my Mike Neville.
The Lakers needed just 2:58 in the middle period to snatch the lead. One of the goals came on a penalty shot. Things did not get much better to start the third as the Lakers scored 31 seconds in. Winger Alex Petan scored for the Huskies on a two-man advantage to cut the lead in half at 15:52, but that was as close as the Huskies would get. The Lakers scored one more late to take the game, 5-3.
“For the most part, I thought we did a lot of good things again tonight,” said Pearson. “We got off to a lead, but it almost came to easy. I thought if we got the third goal, that might have helped us, but we didn’t.”
Saturday night saw the return of defenseman Daniel Sova to the lineup. The physical defenseman sparked the Huskies’ checking game, and his teammates responded by throwing their bodies at the Lakers every opportunity they got. It took over a period, but the hard work paid off as Petan gave the Huskies the lead when he attempted to throw the puck in front of the net. The puck bounced off a Lakers’ defender and into the net at 1:40. The Huskies peppered Kapalka with 24 shots in the middle period.
Winger Ryan Furne extended the Huskies’ lead 10:33 into the third. After an icing call against the Lakers, Neville won the face off to Furne. Furne cut the high slot before launching a wrister over Kapalka’s shoulder. The Lakers would get one back, but that was all as Jamie Phillips shined in goal for the Huskies.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game tonight,” said MTU coach Mel Pearson. “I thought our team played hard and ground out a win tonight.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to sophomore winger Malcolm Gould. On Friday night, Gould scored the second Huskies’ goal by crashing the net with the kind of intensity the Huskies need from him night in and night out. He would finish the night with the goal, three shots on goal, and a +1 rating. Saturday, Gould twice knocked Lakers’ skaters to the ice with booming body checks before putting another three shots on goal.