Huskies win first GLI title since 1980


Courtesy of MTU Athletics

DETROIT — Michigan Tech claimed its 10th GLI title with a 4-0 victory over No. 7-ranked Western Michigan tonight at Joe Louis Arena. The Huskies’ Pheonix Copley who slammed the door on Michigan in a 4-0 win last night, became just the second goaltender in GLI history to post back-to-back shutouts. He was named the winner of the John MacInnes Trophy as the tournament MVP.

The MacNaughton Cup, given to the GLI Champion, is in the possession of the Huskies for the first time since 1980, when head coach Mel Pearson was a Huskies’ player.

“I’m enjoying this more as a coach. You realize you’re representing not only your team, but your university and community,” said Pearson. “I couldn’t be more proud of our guys. We went out, played as a team and earned this. It’s special.”

Similar to last night’s 4-0 victory over Michigan, Tech needed to weather an early storm from the opposition. WMU, which entered the GLI with one of the nation’s top 10 power play units, did not convert on two chances in the first seven minutes.

Tech appeared to have scored on its first power play at the 11:17 mark
when David Johnstone slipped a shot under Frank Slubowski’s pad. The goal was reviewed and disallowed because of goaltender interference.

Later in the frame (18:28), Dennis Rix connected on a harmless-looking shot from the left halfwall. The quick wrist shot beat Slubowski over his glove shoulder and popped the water
bottle off the net.

Tech maintained a 1-0 advantage through the second period, even though another apparent goal was waved off when the officials said the whistle had blown before the puck crossed the goal line.

Sophomore Blake Hietala left nothing to review 3:23 into the third when he sniped a shot from the hash marks into the upper left corner of the net. Fourth line mates Daniel
Holmberg and Aaron Pietila assisted  on the goal, which pushed the margin to a more comfortable 2-0.

Copley was tested in the third as Western had three more power plays including 39 seconds of 5-on-3. He withstood a barrage of eight shots during the Huskies’ penalty kill but stood tall.

WMU (11-5-2) pulled its goaltender with 2:43 left and skated with the extra attacker for 1:34 before Tanner Kero iced the game with a shot from the neutral zone.

The Broncos were called for checking from behind with 31 seconds left, and Aaron Pietila added a power-play marker for the team’s fourth tally of the night.

“It was our time,” said Pearson. “I’m so happy for the alumni who have come to this tournament for the last 30 years and supported us.

“This win is going to be a big boost for us going forward.”

Copley made 32 saves tonight for a total of 70 on the weekend. His back-to-back shutouts are believed to be the first by a Tech netminder since Bob McManus in the 1950s.

Tech received a combined five points from players who were not in the lineup last night (Hietala 1-1=2, Holmberg 0-2=2 and Mikael Lickteig.

The Broncos went 0-for-7 on the power play (0-for-12 on the weekend). The Huskies were 1-for-6 on the man advantage.

Michigan Tech (6-10-3) will have next weekend off before returning to WCHA play at Minnesota Duluth Jan. 11-12.