Carrying one of the best records in college hockey into the weekend, the No. 9 Michigan Tech Huskies took care of business Friday and Saturday against the visiting Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves. The Huskies improved to 8-0-0 overall and 6-0-0 in Western Collegiate Hockey Association play. The last time the Huskies started with eight wins was in 1972. They are now the only team left in the NCAA with no losses or ties.
The Huskies dominated Friday night’s contest from start to finish. In the first period, the Huskies put 18 shots on Olivier Mantha. One found its way through when sophomore Tyler Heinonen, who had two goals all last season, notched his second of the year on the power play 6:31 into the second on a rebound. Junior Malcolm Gould and co-captain Tanner Kero both assisted on the goal.
The game stayed 1-0 until the 11:18 mark of the third when Gould attempted to find a linemate not once but twice. Neither attempt worked, so he fired the puck himself and beat Mantha to give the Huskies a 2-0 lead. When all was said and done, the Huskies put 46 shots on Mantha.
“I thought it was a different game than it was last weekend,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “They defended really well tonight around their net. They did a great job of tying our guys up.”
Things went differently on Saturday night. The Huskies struck early as sophomore Shane Hanna beat Michael Matyas with a shot just 3:08 in. A five-minute major for the Seawolves helped them get 13 shots on goal in the opening frame. The Huskies earned a five-minute major of their own in the second while already on the power play, and assistant captain Alex Petan took advantage at 14:46.
The Seawolves got another five-minute major advantage late in the second and it paid off for them early in the third as they beat junior Jamie Phillips 1:39 in. The game remained 2-1 until the Seawolves pulled Matyas late. Heinonen stole the puck at center ice and scored his second of the weekend to seal the game for the Huskies with 29.8 seconds left.
“I thought we got away from [the game plan] for whatever reason,” said Pearson. “We started to do some things we typically don’t. We tried to make too many plays in the danger zones. Overall, I am really happy. There was a lot going on this last two weeks.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to sophomore winger Tyler Heinonen. Last season, Heinonen broke through with a pair of goals at Notre Dame and appeared ready to make an immediate impact. Instead, he struggled to add just one more assist and often found himself a healthy scratch.
After picking up a pair of goals this weekend, Heinonen already has three goals, all coming over the last three games, along with an assist, giving him four points in four games. However, what is more impressive is the effort he is making without the puck. He is making key plays defensively due to better puck pursuit than he had as a freshman.