Huskies rally to win WCHA opener at LSSU

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech hockey team scored three third-period goals and defeated Lake Superior State 5-3 in come-from-behind fashion at Taffy Abel Arena on Saturday (Oct. 4). The game was the season opener for both teams. It was also the only conference game in the country and one of only two regular season games in all of NCAA Division I hockey.

The two teams entered the third period deadlocked at two. Malcolm Gould gave Tech its first lead of the game 7:28 into the frame. Tanner Kero had his drive to the net saved by Laker goaltender Gordie Defiel, but Gould was there to bang home the rebound for his 10th career goal. Alex Gillies had his second assist of the game on the play.

After the Lakers tied the score at three with 10:04 on the third period clock, Kero quickly answered 26 seconds later to put the Huskies up for good. Alex Petan fed a no-look cross-ice pass to Kero who made a beautiful move and finished the play with a backhanded goal. Also assisting on the game winner was Tyler Heinonen.

Blake Pietila put the icing on the cake with an empty net goal after a long shot from inside the Michigan Tech defensive zone. Reid Sturos and Riley Sweeney assisted on the final goal.

“They came out with a big push at the start of the game,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “We made some mistakes, like you expect in the first game, and they took advantage. We were able to keep battling back and started to play better as the game went on.

“The bottom line is that we got the win. We had a lot of good performances from a lot of guys tonight, and Jamie made the save at the critical time to help us win the game.”

Both teams came out a little shaky in the first period. LSSU quickly capitalized on some offensive pressure and scored 2:42 into the game when Daniel Vernace scored on a one-time.

Sturos put Tech on the board and tied it at one with a power play goal at 12:58. He stuffed in a rebound after a shot by David Johnstone. Petan also assisted on the goal.

LSSU again took the lead when Garret Clemment shelved one over the shoulder of Jamie Phillips. The unassisted goal was at 12:22.

Both Pietila and Kero had breakaways in the first period that didn’t find the back of the net.

The first time Petan and Kero hooked up they tied the game at two. Kero fed Petan out front with 1:19 left on the first period clock. Gillies tallied his first career point with the secondary assist.

Tech finished with 36 shots on goal while LSSU had 18. Defeil stopped 31 shots in his first collegiate game for the Lakers. Phillips finished with 18 saves for the Huskies to pick up his seventh career win.

The puck drops at 5:07 p.m. in the series finale on Sunday (Oct. 5).

(Information courtesy of MTU Athletics)