Coming off a huge sweep on the road at Bowling Green State, the Michigan Tech Huskies returned home this past weekend looking for some Winter Carnival magic. This year’s opponent, the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, made their first ever trip to the Copper Country, and the Huskies played rude hosts, winning 4-1 on Friday before opening things up on Saturday to the tune of 10-4. The 10 goals marked the first time the Huskies had reached such a total since Jan. 30, 1993, against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. With the wins, the Huskies moved into third place in the WCHA with 24 points, one better than both Alaska-Anchorage and Bowling Green State.
The Huskies outshot the Chargers 20-5 in the opening frame and struck once when co-captain Blake Pietila scored a goal that looked eerily similar to his game-winner the previous Saturday night against the Falcons. Assistant captain Tanner Kero struck twice in the second period off passes from sophomore Malcolm Gould at 10:33 and assistant captain Dennis Rix at 17:37.
The Chargers cut into the Huskies’ lead about halfway through the third period. Pietila answered that tally with another of his own on the power play at 13:09. Freshman Reid Sturos assisted on both Pietila goals.
“I don’t know that we loved our effort tonight,” said assistant coach Damon Whitten. “I don’t know that we loved our game as a team…but certainly it’s nice to get the win on a night you don’t feel like you brought your best effort.”
Pietila got the Huskies on the board during their first power play at 12:45 of the first period. The Chargers evened things at 13:29 after a miscue by a Huskies’ defender. The game remained tied after one period and through the first three minutes of the second before the Huskies struck three times in four minutes. Pietila, Rix, and sophomore C.J. Eick all scored during that stretch. Gould added to the Huskies’ lead at 12:06.
The Chargers found the back of the net at 15:56 to cut the lead to three. Goals from junior David Johnstone, freshman Mike Neville and Sturos before second period ended gave the Huskies an 8-2 lead heading into the final period. The teams traded goals in the third with the Huskies getting markers from Gould and freshman Max Vallis before all was said and done. Vallis’ goal was the first of his career.
“The toughest games to coach in are games like this where you should win,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “I thought our guys did what they needed to do and found a way to get the four points.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to sophomore winger Malcolm Gould. It would have been easy to give it to Blake Pietila, whose six points moved him into the lead among Huskies’ skaters, or freshman Reid Sturos, who notched five points, but Gould’s two goals and one assist were every bit as valuable. After playing in just 10 games prior to being inserted against Ferris State at home, Gould has four goals and one assist over the team’s last five games, earning himself a spot on the Huskies’ potent second line alongside Neville and Eick. Gould’s speed has been a large contributing factor to his recent success, and he needs every ounce of it skating alongside the speedy Eick.