MTU Hockey heads to Minnesota Duluth


Courtesy of MTU Athletics

Michigan Tech (6-10-3, 3-8-3 WCHA) at Minnesota Duluth (7-10-3, 5-6-3 WCHA)

Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Dirk Hembroff, Randy Heinonen)
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Full version of game notes in pdf. <>

Michigan Tech broke a 32-year drought at the GLI by winning its first title since 1980. The Huskies claimed the title via a pair of 4-0 shutouts. Tech defeated Michigan in the semifinal Saturday (Dec. 29) and No. 7-ranked Western Michigan in the championship (Dec. 30). Head coach Mel Pearson was a player on the last Huskies’ GLI championship team. Tech, which has been the host of every GLI since its inception in 1965, has won 10 of the 48 GLI crowns awarded.

Goaltender Pheonix Copley <> turned in one of the best two-game stretches in school history with a pair of shutouts at the GLI. The freshman faced a combined 70 shots in the two games without allowing a goal. He was given the John MacInnes Award as the tournament MVP. Copley is the first Tech goaltender since 1955-56 (Bob McManus) to post back-to-back shutouts. He has lowered his goals against average to 3.30 this season (from 4.36 before the GLI). He has not allowed a goal in his last 125:45 of work. Prior to the GLI, his last game was a relief effort vs. Minnesota Duluth Nov. 30.

Head coach Mel Pearson and the Huskies defeated Michigan 4-0 at the GLI Dec. 29 in the first meeting between the teams since his hiring in 2011. Pearson had spent the previous 23 years as an assistant coach at Michigan under Red Berenson. Pearson has now been a part of 17 Great Lakes Invitational championships as a player and coach (four as a Tech player, 12 as a Michigan assistant/associate head coach) and one as Tech head coach). That’s the most of any individual.

Blake Pietila <> became the first Michigan Tech hockey player to win a medal at the World Junior Championships when he helped Team USA defeat Sweden 3-1 in the gold medal game in Ufa, Russia, last Saturday (Jan. 5). Pietila, the 11th different Tech player to play at the World Juniors (all for the U.S.), played in all seven games and posted two assists for the Americans. He also recorded a plus-five rating and was a big part of the U.S. penalty kill, which was the best at the tournament (89 percent). Pietila leads Tech in goal scoring this season with 10. He has 20-16=36 in 56 career games.

Michigan Tech owns a 119-83-20 record vs. Minnesota Duluth since the series began in 1952. The Huskies are 59-48-7 against the Bulldogs in Duluth including a tie and win last year (Jan. 27-28) when UMD was ranked No. 1. Tech trailed 4-0 after one period of play in the Friday game before coming back to tie 4-4. The Huskies claimed a 5-0 victory in the Saturday contest, scoring nine unanswered goals in the series. UMD earned a 7-3 win and 4-4 tie in the teams first meeting this season (Nov. 30-Dec. 1).

Each of Tech’s six wins this season have come in pairs. Oct. 13 and 19 vs. Lake Superior State and Minnesota, Nov. 16-17 at Bemidji State and Dec. 29-30 at the Great Lakes Invitational … Tech is 6-1-1 when scoring the first goal of the game and 0-9-2 when its opponent scores first. The Huskies are also 5-0-1 when they score four goals or more this season … Despite five of the league’s 12 teams being in Minnesota, Michigan Tech has only eight games in the land of 10,000 lakes this season. Their last games in Minnesota were Nov. 16-17, a sweep at Bemidji State.

Freshmen Alex Petan <> and Jujhar Khaira <> are tied for the team point lead with sophomore David Johnstone <> at 15 points apiece. Petan owns 6-9=15 while Khaira and Johnstone both sit with 4-11=15. Petan and Khaira both rank tied for 15th nationally (fourth among WCHA rookies) in points per game for freshman at .79. All four of Khaira’s goals have come on the power play, ranking him ninth in the country in that category.

Senior defenseman Tommy Brown <> tallied his first career goal in Tech’s 4-0 win over Michigan. His score came at the 6:30 mark of the third period on a shot from the left point. Brown has played in seven games this season and 61 during his Michigan Tech career. He now owns one goal and two assists for three career points.

Four Huskies were named to the GLI All-Tournament Team. Pheonix Copley earned the John MacInnes Award as the tournament MVP. Forwards Alex Petan and Jujhar Khaira and defenseman Steven Seigo <> also earned spots on the six-member team. Western Michigan had the other two players on the all-tournament team in forward Mike Leone and defenseman Danny DeKeyser.

Five of Michigan Tech’s games this season have required overtime. The Huskies are 2-0-3 in those contests and 6-1-7 in overtimes in the last two seasons combined under coach Mel Pearson. Michigan Tech is 8-1-14 in its last 23 overtime games stretching back to 2009.

Sophomore Blake Hietala <> scored his third career goal in his ninth career game with a tally vs. Western Michigan at the GLI. The goal gave Tech a 2-0 advantage in the third period of the GLI Championship game. Hietala notched his first career goal vs. Minnesota Duluth Nov. 30.

Tanner Kero <>, who scored an empty net goal vs. Western Michigan Dec. 30, broke a month-long point-less streak with the tally. The sophomore center last scored Nov. 30 vs. Minnesota Duluth before missing four games with injury.

Michigan Tech inserted three new players into its lineup from the Dec. 29 GLI semifinal game to the Dec. 30 championship, and all three had points. Sophomore Blake Hietala had a goal and an assist. Junior Daniel Holmberg <> had two assists. Senior Mikael Lickteig <> posted an assist.

Senior defenseman Carl Nielsen <> will serve as the Huskies’ captain in 2012-13. The Amherst, Ohio, native was an assistant captain for the team a year ago and has played in 122 career games at Tech. Senior Steven Seigo and junior Brad Stebner will be assistant captains, giving the Huskies three defensemen in leadership roles.