Courtesy of MTU Athletics
HOUGHTON, Mich. — Neither a blizzard outside the Student Development Complex nor arch rival Northern Michigan inside the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena could spoil Michigan Tech hockey’s regular season home finale. While six seniors were honored after the game, it was a pair of freshman who posted four points apiece to lift Tech to a 7-4 victory in a crucial league tilt.
Rookie forward Reid Sturos posted his first career hat trick with three goals and an assist while defenseman and classmate Shanne Hanna notched one goal and three assists.
Perhaps the most impressive number of the night was the attendance. A crowd of 3,062 fans braved the blizzard conditions that canceled University classes at 2 p.m.
“A big shout out to our crowd, especially our students, to come out in this weather,” said coach Mel Pearson. “They were a factor. They created a lot of noise, and the players feed off of that.”
Despite having good energy to start the game, Tech (13-16-6, 11-10-4 WCHA) found itself trailing just 34 seconds into the opening period. Dominik Shine slid a pass across the crease to Reed Seckel for a tap-in and a 1-0 lead on NMU’s first shot of the game.
Alex Petan hit the cross bar later in the period, and it wasn’t until a power play later that the Huskies tied it up. David Johnstone found the net on a one-timer from atop the left circle to knot the game heading into the first intermission.
The Wildcats (12-17-2, 10-12-1 WCHA) took a 2-1 lead 4:19 into the second period, but Tech answered immediately. Blake Pietila picked off a Wildcats pass at neutral ice, skated in and found Sturos in the slot. Sturos’ first of the game and fourth of the year came just 10 seconds after NMU’s tally.
Sturos added another off a Wildcat turnover in their own end. A Northern Michigan defenseman fanned on a clear, and Pietila wasted no time in firing a quick pass in front to Sturos who was all alone in front of netminder Mathias Dahlstrom. The goal came at 7:18 and gave the Huskies their first lead of the game.
Five minutes later Tanner Kero made it 4-2 with a rebound off Hanna’s initial shot from the right point.
The score remained 4-2 for the next 22 minutes of game play spanning the second intermission before Hanna netted the insurance goal on the power play at 14:16 of the third period.
Four more goals would be scored in the final 5:08 as the margin bounced between two and three goals. Tech’s sixth was scored by Blake Heitala who recorded his third goal in as many games with a wrap-around. Sturos completed the hat trick by getting a piece of Cliff Watson’s power-play shot from the left point with 36 seconds remaining in the game.
“We came out, worked hard, and put last weekend behind us,” said Sturos, who now owns 6-13=19 in 25 games on the season. “I’m happy to get the hat trick, but we played hard as a team. We got the win. That’s what matters.”
Phoenix Copley started his fifth consecutive game in net for the Huskies and stopped 21-of-25 Wildcats shots. Dahlstrom finished with 28 saves on 33 shots before giving way to Michael Doan.
Tech’s special teams sparkled by scoring three times on five power plays and stopping NMU on all five of its man advantages.
“I’m really pleased with how we bounced back from a tough series here last weekend,” said Pearson. “I’m most happy for the seniors. You want to play well and send them out with a win.”
The six seniors honored after the game were Ryan Furne, Daniel Holmberg, Jacob Johnston, Dennix Rix, Dan Sova, and Brad Stebner.
Tech and Northern wrap up their four-game season series with a clash in Marquette tomorrow night. Faceoff at the Berry Events Center is set for 7:07 p.m.