SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – The Michigan Tech hockey team earned a WCHA series sweep with a 5-1 win over Laker Superior State on Sunday (Oct. 5) at Taffy Abel Arena. For the second night in a row, the Huskies fell behind in the first period and came back for the win.
After giving up a first-period goal, the Black and Gold scored five unanswered, including a four-goal explosion in the second.
Tech pounded 26 shots on the Lakers in the second, and it was Blake Hietala who finally broke through 8:02 into the period. Mike Neville took the draw and chipped the puck over to Hietala who shoveled the puck under Gordie Defial. For Hietala, it was his first of the season and first of two in the game.
Blake Pietila gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead as he ripped a one-timer from inside the circle to the left of Defiel 4:11 later. His line mates set him up as David Johnstone threaded a cross-ice, backhanded pass to the captain. Reid Sturos picked up the secondary helper.
Only 14 seconds later, freshman Dylan Steman tipped in a Cliff Watson blast from the blue line for the first goal of his career. Joel L’Esperance also recorded his first point as a Husky with an assist on the play.
Less than six minutes later (18:09), Johnstone got into the action, scoring his first of the season and 15th power play goal of his career. Pietila dug the puck out of the corner and passed out to Alex Petan at the blue line. Petan slipped it across to Hanna who found Johnstone for a one-timer into the back of the net.
Jamie Phillips stood tall in the third period stopping nine shots, including a pair of beautiful saves six and a half minutes in.
Hietala made it a four-goal margin as buried his second of the game with just 22 seconds left in the third. Malcolm Gould carried the puck across the line on a three on one and fed it to Hietala who was waiting just outside the crease. Steman picked up his second point of the contest with an assist.
“Overall I’m really happy with the weekend, “Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “We had a lot of guys play well, and it was good to get some secondary scoring.
“We’re going to be able to score goals with the depth we have, but we’re going to have to play better defensively.”
The Huskies came out with a lot of energy in the first period, outshooting the Lakers 11-6. Johnstone and Sturos both had early chances that were stopped by Gordie Defiel.
Alex Globke had a breakaway that was turned away by Jamie Phillips.
The Huskies killed off 15 seconds of five on three, but with five and a half seconds left in the first period and LSSU still on the man advantage, Ian Miller scored over the glove of Phillips to give the Lakers the 1-0 lead.
The Huskies outshot the Lakers 41-22 in the game. Phillips won his eighth career game with 21 saves.
“Jamie made key saves at the right time again, like last night,” added Pearson. “Their power play at the start of the third was important and he had some big stops.”
Defiel started between the pipes for LSSU, allowing four goals and stopping 33 shots. Kevin Aldridge relieved Defiel in the third and made three saves.
The two teams combined for 16 penalties. Each team had a power play goal.
“We got a couple weeks off before going into a hornets nest at Ferris,” said Pearson. “They’re one of the top two teams in our league, and we have to do everything we can to be ready for that series.”
Tech travels to Ferris State on Oct. 24-25.
The Huskies are playing an intrasquad game at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena on Saturday (Oct. 11) at 6 p.m. Admission is a donation to local youth hockey, and fans are encouraged to bring along their skates to skate with the Huskies afterward.
(Information Courtesy of MTU Athletics)