Huskies reject repeat, Seawolves

HOUGHTON – Just like Friday night’s Winter Carnival hockey game, Michigan Tech got up 2-0 Saturday. Just like Friday, the Huskies took a 4-1 lead in the second period. Very unlike Friday night’s 5-4 collapse to Alaska Anchorage, Tech dominated the full 60 minutes and capped off a 6-1 Western Collegiate Hockey Asssociation win.

Freshmen Walker Hyland and C.J. Eick scored their first career goals, freshman Alex Petan added two of his own, freshman Malcolm Gould notched the eventual game-winning goal and junior Milos Gordic tallied two points for the second straight night to earn Carnival MVP. Tech won its second MacInnes Cup of the season (the other for winning the Great Lakes Invitational) by winning the total-goal series 10-6.

“It was a real tough loss (Friday) night, but to come back and play like we did shows a lot of character and resiliency in our team,” Tech coach Mel Pearson said. “It was really hard to find someone that did not have a good game.”

Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley, who had a subpar performance Friday, bounced back to save 21 of the 22 shots he faced, and with the Huskies leading 6-1 midway through the third period, fellow freshman Jamie Phillips took over for his fourth appearance, saving all three shots against.

“(Goaltender coach Steve Shields) just thought it would be good for Pheonix to have to bounce back and work on something like this and get mentally tough after having a tough night. I thought he was real good tonight,” Pearson said. ” (Phillips) has worked extremely hard this year, and we felt if we got an opportunity where we could get him some minutes and some time and get him in net it would be good for him.”

UAA, for the second straight night, switched goaltenders for a very different reason. Rob Gunderson, who saved 36 of 38 shots in relief of Chris Kamal Friday, only stopped 10 of 13 shots Saturday before Kamal relieved him.

“We have to do a better job in front of them. This has been happening all year. We sometimes don’t give our goaltenders a chance,” UAA coach Dave Shyiak said. “We dig ourselves a hole continually and this league is too good. Last night we were able to create our own puck luck, we were able to come back. Tonight we weren’t.

“I give Tech credit. Last night could have certainly stabbed you in the heart and mentally those are tough defeats, but they came out and got the two quick goals and another goal after that and we just couldn’t recover.”

Hyland fired a power-play shot from just inside the blue line that deflected in off a defender’s stick 7:57 into the game, and Gould scored his third goal of the season at 9:07 on a rebound of Blake Pietila’s shot. Tech’s first two goals came 1:04 apart on Friday and 1:10 apart Saturday.

Gordic got his goal 1:54 before first intermission, firing home the rebound after linemate Ryan Furne attacked the net. The line of juniors, which also includes Jacob Johnstone, accounted for seven points on the weekend after struggling through much of the year.

“I think ever since we reunited our freshman lineup with Furne and ‘Stoney’ we’ve been clicking, so hopefully we can continue that,” Gordic said. “Yesterday’s game left us with a bad taste in our mouth.

“Coach told us to go out there and be relentless and that’s what we did today.”

Scott Allen put UAA on the board 8:56 into the second, undoubtedly flooding bad memories from the night before into the 3,576 fans at MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Pearson took a timeout a few minutes later and Alex Petan made it 4-1 on a 3-on-2 with 2:46 left in the second period.

“I think the dagger was the fourth goal to make it a three-goal lead,” Shyiak said. “When you give up that many odd-man rushes to some skilled players, they’re going to score some goals.”

And that’s just what Eick did less than a minute later, using his blistering speed and finishing a breakaway to make it 5-1 and finally give the freshman forward his first career goal in his 26th game.

“It’s a relief. I feel bad for my linemates. Rixie (Dennis Rix) should be leading the country in assists if I could be burying half of those,” Eick said. “It was a relief and just good to get the win tonight.”

The third period featured 32 combined penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct, roughing and cross-checking calls against UAA’s Alex Gellert, and a pair of double minor roughing calls. The Huskies made the Seawolves pay for Tyler Currier’s fifth minor penalty of the game at the 9:27 mark when Petan buried the game’s final goal on a back-door one-time play from Furne.

Tech (9-14-4, 6-12-4 WCHA) outshot UAA (4-17-7, 2-16-6 WCHA) 43-25 in the game and 87-53 for the weekend; and won the faceoff battle 35-21 Friday and 72-44 for the series.

The Huskies have a short turnaround before hosting rival Northern Michigan at 7:07 p.m. Tuesday night. They’ll then return to conference play next weekend at Minnesota State.