Courtesy of MTU Athletics
HOUGHTON, Mich. — Tanner Kero and Blake Pietila each scored twice to give Michigan Tech a 4-1 Winter Carnival hockey victory over Alabama Huntsville tonight. The Huskies held a 51-21 advantage in shots on goal in winning their third straight game and improving to 11-14-6 overall and 9-8-4 in the WCHA.
Tech notched one goal in the first period, two in the second and another in the third to move to 6-3-3 at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“We got off to a good start with an early goal and had a couple more good chances,” said Tech coach Mel Pearson. “Credit their team. They pushed us hard, but we were able to make the timely plays to stay on top.”
Pietila’s first goal came on a rush 7:01 into the opening frame. Reid Sturos centered a pass to Pietila, who backhanded a shot inside the left post.
Despite six minutes of power play later in the stanza, the score remained 1-0 at the intermission.
In the second, UAH was called for a major for hitting from behind just 40 seconds into play. The Chargers killed off the extended power play, but not long after that Kero made it a 2-0 game. The junior tipped a Malcolm Gould shot on goal, then cleaned up the rebound for his 11th of the season.
Kero tallied again at the 17:37 mark when he poked in a Dennis Rix pass to the crease on a 3-on-1 rush.
Kero had a golden opportunity for the hat trick two minutes later with a clean breakaway shorthanded that was turned aside.
UAH broke up the shutout with Alex Allan’s goal one second after a power play had expired 9:28 into the third.
Pietila restored the Huskies’ three-goal lead and wrapped up scoring with a rebound tap in on the power play at the 13:09 mark.
Tech registered 20 shots in the first period, 10 in the second and 21 in the third for its total of 51. Carmine Gurrierro started in net for the Chargers and made 38 saves before an injury. Matt Larose came on in relief for the final 11:05 and stopped nine shots.
Pheonix Copley made 20 saves to earn his seventh win of the season.
“Pheonix came up big for us,” said Pearson. “They had several quality scoring chances when the score was 2-0 in the second that he saved. I thought that was a critical part of the game for us.”
The Black and Gold finished 1-for-5 on the power play while holding the Chargers 0-for-2.
The two teams will wrap up the two-game series with a matinee tomorrow at 5:07 p.m. The MacInnes Cup, signifying the total goals winner of the two-game Winter Carnival series, will be awarded following the game.
Notes: Tech and UAH had never met prior to tonight … The defensive pairing of Chris Leibinger and Walker Hyland both finished with a +3 plus/minus rating …Pietila’s first-period goal was his first even strength tally of the year … Kero now holds the team lead in goals with 12.