For the second straight weekend, the Michigan Tech Huskies ran into a hot goaltender who affected everything that happened throughout the weekend. On Friday night, the Bowling Green State Falcons’ Tommy Burke, a sophomore, made a career-high 39 stops in a 3-2 win. On Saturday, Burke surrendered four goals to the Huskies, but still made another career-high 43 saves in a 4-4 tie. Friday did see the end of co-captain Blake Pietila’s pointless drought at seven games. Saturday saw him break his 12-game goalless streak.
The Falcons grabbed the lead a little over midway through the opening frame. Looking for a better effort in the middle frame, the Huskies dominated play, putting 19 shots on Burke. During an early power play, senior Ryan Furne took a pass from freshman Reid Sturos and beat Burke with a wrist shot at 5;36. Freshman Brent Baltus also assisted on the goal. The Huskies kept the Falcons from getting anything through to goalie Pheonix Copley until 15:40, when their first shot beat him to regain the lead.
A long shot on a one-on-two rush gave the Falcons a two-goal lead early in the third. Things remained that way until a crazy sequence that saw sophomore C.J. Eick take a five-minute major and the Huskies still manage to eventually earn a power play. With Copley pulled , sophomore Alex Petan cut the lead in half at 17:17. Pietila and assistant captain Tanner Kero both assisted on the goal.
“I thought we played with a lot of energy,” said Huskies’ head coach Mel Pearson. “I thought we played well, but our goalie had an off night. I liked a lot of the things we did tonight. It was just one of those nights.”
A power play tally put the Falcons on the board first at 15:11 of the first. Pietila broke through with a power play marker of his own at 18:47. Sophomore Shane Hanna and junior Riley Sweeney both assisted on the goal. Things remained tied at 1-1 until freshman Mike Neville broke loose and scored on a breakaway 8:20 into the third. Freshman Cliff Watson and Sweeney both assisted on the goal.
Junior Blake Hietala extended the Huskies’ lead on the power play at 10:10 when he tipped a shot from Kero in. Hanna also assisted on the goal. After the Falcons cut the lead to one, Kero scored a goal similar to the one he scored against Bemidji State last weekend at 13:02, off assists from Neville and co-captain Brad Stebner. The Falcons pulled Burke twice in the final two and a half minutes, scoring twice to earn the tie. The second was controversial as Hanna was in control of the puck before getting hauled down, turning over possession to the Falcons.
Pearson shocked the exiting Huskies’ crowd by storming across the ice to discuss the play with the officials after the overtime session.
“Tough tie,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “Obviously, it was a tough game to give away the point the way it happened at the end. It felt like a loss to our team tonight.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to freshman winger Reid Sturos. The big youngster has struggled to earn a regular shift until the road trip to Alaska. Since Nov. 23, Sturos has played in each of the Huskies’ last seven games. He finally picked up his first career point on Friday when he made a perfect backhand pass to Furne on the power play. While he still has much to learn, Pearson is very excited by the progress shown by Sturos to this point.