Courtesy of Michigan Tech Athletics
HOUGHTON, Mich. — Hockey coach Mel Pearson announced today the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters of Intent to attend and play hockey at Michigan Tech. The recruits are goaltender Pheonix Copley (North Pole, Alaska/Tri-City-USHL), forward CJ Eick (Appleton, Wis./Green Bay-USHL), defenseman Walker Hyland (Woodbury, Minn./Alberni Valley-BCHL), forward Jujhar Khaira (Surrey, B.C./Prince George-BCHL) and forward Alex Petan (Delta, B.C./Coquitlam-BCHL).
All five are expected to join the team next fall.
Copley is currently playing for the Tri-City Storm of the United States Hockey League, where he has played in 13 games with a 3.11 goals against average and .903 save percentage. The 6-3, 175-pound Alaska native spent the 2010-11 season in Texas playing 42 games for the Corpus Christi IceRays of the North American Hockey League, where he posted a 4.17 GAA and .880 save percentage.
“We’re very pleased to sign a goalie of Pheonix’s caliber,” said Pearson. “He possesses all the qualities you look for in a young goaltender. He has a lot of natural talent and competes at a very high level. We expect him to solidify our goaltending for the future.”
Eick has played 70 games over the last two seasons with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. The 5-7, 160-pound forward tallied five goals and four assists in 55 regular season games a year ago. He then tallied 4-2–6 in 11 playoff games, helping the Gamblers to the Clark Cup Finals. Eick owns 2-3–5 in 15 games so far this year.
“CJ knows what it takes to win having played for a very successful organization,” said Pearson. “He owns tremendous speed, which makes him dangerous in all situations. He also comes with a great work ethic, which should make him a good penalty killer for us.”
Hyland is a 5-11, 185-pound defenseman playing for Alberni Valley of the British Columbia Hockey League this season. The Woodbury, Minn., native has 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 14 games so far. In 2010-11, Hyland compiled 12-23–35 in 57 games with two different teams (Fresno and Texas) in the NAHL.
“Walker’s an excellent skater with very good offensive capabilities,” said Pearson. “We look forward to him adding offense from the blue line as well as playing solid defense.”
Khaira, a 6-3, 195-pound forward, recently helped Canada West to a gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge. He is currently playing for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL, where he has tallied 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points in just 16 games. A year ago with the Spruce Kings, Khaira amassed 10-32–42 in 58 games.
“Jujhar is having an outstanding year in the BCHL,” said Pearson. “He chose Michigan Tech not only for hockey but also academics, and we’re very excited to have him. He has good size and excellent offensive instincts, and we think he’ll be able to add offense to our team immediately.”
Petan is currently the sixth-leading scorer in the BCHL with 34 total points (13-21–34) in just 21 games with the Coquitlam Express. He leads the team in both goals and points so far in 2011-12. The 5-8, 155-pound forward registered 15-21–36 in 55 games with the Express a year ago including three points in four playoff games.
“Alex follows a long line of BCHL players who have decided to play at Michigan Tech,” said Pearson. “He’s very creative offensively, and he has really come into his own this year. We look for Alex to add some offensive punch to our lineup. He possesses outstanding puck skills and is a dynamic skater.
“I’m very pleased and excited about this class. Damon (Whitten) and Billy (Muckalt) have done an outstanding job in identifying the type of student-athlete we are looking to bring to Michigan Tech.”
In addition to the five players who will join the squad next fall, another—Justin Fillion—will begin his Huskies’ career at the start of the next semester. Fillion signed with Tech a year ago.