After a weekend off, the Michigan Tech Huskies returned home to face the No. 6 Ferris State Bulldogs. The Huskies played rude hosts on Friday, battling back from one-goal deficits twice en route to a 3-2 victory. Even the power play looked good, scoring a key goal to even the game. Saturday, things did not go as well, as the WCHA-leading Bulldogs battled in front of their backup goaltender, and came away with a 3-0 victory. The Huskies’ power play reverted back to its previous struggles, going zero-for-six in the game.
Looking a bit lost in the opening frame, the Huskies had to work to keep from being skated right off the rink. Trailing 1-0 on a goal at 16:24, the Huskies collected themselves and responded 10 seconds later when co-captain Blake Pietila fired an initial shot. Junior David Johnstone crashed the net and banged home the rebound to tie the game. The Bulldogs jumped back out to a lead 1:58 into the second period.
With the Huskies on the power play, freshman Reid Sturos parked himself in front of Bulldogs’ goalie C.J. Motte. Freshman Shane Hanna blasted a shot that Sturos tipped in at 12:00. Sturos would strike again in third after working a give-and-go with Pietila at 8:45.
“I think we were rusty the first period,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “Part of that is that bye week. As much as you emphasize how hard the game is going to be, I think you get away from it. I thought we saw some of that in the first period.”
A closed door meeting after Friday’s loss led to the Bulldogs starting Charles Williams for the first time since Oct. 18. The Huskies tested him early, getting the game’s first five shots. The Bulldogs would score on just their second shot of the night, which happened to be a rebound during a four-on-three power play with Pietila in the box.
The Huskies appeared to score the tying goal midway through the second when sophomore Malcolm Gould ripped a wrister over Williams’ shoulder, but the replay showed the puck hit the crossbar instead. With sophomore Alex Petan off for a four-minute a minute later, the Bulldogs struck again off a turnover by Johnstone. The Bulldogs struck once more in the third.
“Obviously, we took a bunch of penalties early and that kind of killed the momentum,” said co-captain Brad Stebner. “Some of those are frustration and mental errors. We have to take those out of our game if we are going to compete.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to freshman winger Reid Sturos. After playing 16 games, including two alongside Pietila, Sturos finally broke through on Friday night. Pearson and his staff had been working with him on getting stronger in front of the net on the power play and all the hard work paid off as he came up with a very timely tip in. His second goal was even better after working a pair of quick passes with Pietila. Sturos’ confidence flew high the rest of the weekend as he was highly noticeable around the Bulldogs’ net often.