It does not matter whether you face Lake Superior State or Ferris State, starting your opening series on the road and in league play is going to be tough. The Michigan Tech Huskies had to do just that, facing the Lake Superior State Lakers in a rare Saturday-Sunday matchup. The Huskies trailed twice on Friday night before pulling ahead and winning 5-3. On Saturday, the Huskies again found themselves behind in the second period before erupting for five consecutive goals en route to a 5-1 victory and a key road sweep in WCHA action.
Apparently nobody told Lakers’ freshman goalie Gordon Defiel that he was supposed to struggle in the early going. With 11 saves in the opening frame, he kept his team in the game, as the Huskies fought back twice from one-goal deficits. Reid Sturos and Alex Petan both scored for the Huskies. Sturos’ tally came on the power play.
The game remained 2-2 until Malcolm Gould broke the tie at 7:28 of third period. Co-captains Tanner Kero and Blake Pietila both struck before the final buzzer to help the Huskies to the 5-3 victory. Jamie Phillips made 16 saves in the victory.
“I thought as the game wore on we played well,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “To get thrown into a league game with a lot big implications, and come out with a victory, was huge for our players.”
A scoreless tie was broken in the final seconds of the first period when the Lakers notched a power play goal at 19:55. The Huskies had plenty of shots, but nothing to show for it until Blake Hietala stuck at 8:02 of the second period. Pietila ripped a shot top shelf at 12:13. Dylan Steman potted his first career goal just 14 seconds later, giving the Huskies three goals in a little under four and a half minutes.
David Johnstone struck on the power play before the second period closed, opening up a three-goal lead for the Huskies. Hietala capped the scoring for the Huskies at 19:38 of the third period. Phillips finished the night with 21 saves.
“I was happy with the results,” said Pearson. “We had a lot of guys play well. The penalty situation we will have to talk about. Overall, [I’m] really happy with the weekend.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to Co-captain Blake Pietila. Your best players need to be your best players, especially early in the season, and Pietila has done just that, scoring key goals in both games. While he scored a career-high 28 points last season, Pietila struggled to score goals, notching only eight. With two already this season, it appears he is on pace for a very strong senior year.