After dropping a pair of games to the Minnesota State Mavericks at home, the No. 6 Michigan Tech Huskies licked their wounds and then traveled to face the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, who were fresh off a split with the Ferris State Bulldogs. On Friday, the Huskies held the Chargers to 14 shots and scored a pair of second period goals to get a 4-2 win. On Saturday, the Huskies held the hosts to 15 shots while scoring twice in the second and twice more in the third to win 5-2. With the wins, the Huskies remain atop the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings with a 10-2-0 record, good for 20 points.
The Huskies earned an early power play, but it was the Chargers who struck just 1:08 into the game. Freshman Dylan Steman evened things up for the Huskies at 13:26 off a pass from junior C.J. Eick. Freshman Alex Gillies gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead 2:21 into the second period.
The Chargers tied the game on the power play at 11:36 of the second. Sophomore Shane Hanna answered the goal at 12:54 thanks to a pass from junior Malcolm Gould. Assistant captain Cliff Watson capped the scoring for the Huskies with an empty netter at 19:02 of the third. The goal was his first of his career.
“We hung in there and I thought we did a real good job of limiting their Grade A scoring chances,” said head coach Mel Pearson. “That’s what you have to do on the road.”
The Huskies started Saturday’s contest better than Friday’s as co-captain Tanner Kero scored an unassisted goal at 3:39 of the opening period. The game remained 1-0 for the Huskies until the Chargers tied it 14:25 into the second. Sophomore Walker Hyland gave the Huskies at 17:52 with a shot through from the point. Assistant captain Alex Petan extended the Huskies’ lead with a wicked wrist shot at 19:21.
The Chargers cut the Huskies’ lead to one 6:57 into the third. Gould struck at 8:13 of the third to give the Huskies back their two-goal lead. The Huskies took a late penalty, and the Chargers took advantage of the situation, pulling their goalie to give themselves a six-on-four advantage. The move backfired as senior Blake Hietala iced the game at 18:56 when he deposited the puck into the yawning net.
“We had a number of Grade A chances we didn’t score on,” said Pearson. “You have to learn from a game like this…We can’t take those first two penalties like we did in the first five minutes or six minutes to start the period when we have a two-goal lead because they get one and boy then everything is going.”
This week’s Stick Salute goes to freshman center Dylan Steman. Having not scored a point since the Huskies’ second game of the season at Lake Superior State, Steman notched a three-point effort this weekend with a goal and an assist Friday night and another assist on Saturday. His game continues to improve with each week. He really moved his feet this weekend and his line, which included Eick and Gillies, played well all weekend.
Photography by Ryan Johnson