Locals compete at Tech college hockey prep camp

HOUGHTON – More than 30 local high school hockey players learned what life is like as a college hockey player during Mel Pearson’s first College Prep Hockey Clinic earlier this week.

The clinic took place Monday through Thursday at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena, and it featured high-tempo practices, competitive scrimmages, classroom lectures and off-ice training. It was open to players entering grades 9-12 and Spring 2013 high school graduates.

“I’ve really enjoyed the week personally being on the ice because I haven’t had the chance to meet a lot of the players,” said Pearson, who is entering his third season leading the Huskies hockey team. “… Hopefully they’ve had as much fun as I have, and gotten as much out of it as I have. I’m really glad we did it.”

It wasn’t initially part of the plan this summer to offer a college preparatory camp, but because there was an opening in the schedule during Tech’s regular youth hockey camps, the coaching staff decided to put it together.

“It’s fun. They teach you a lot more stuff that you don’t think of in high school,” said Hunter Kero – younger brother to Tech forward Tanner Kero – who will start his junior year this fall at Hancock Central High School.

Hunter Kero was one of 32 players from the Copper Country, and several other attendees from around the state have recognizable names, like Ted and Reid Pietila from Kingsford, who are related to Tech forward Blake Pietila.

“It’s been good playing for Mel and getting all the experience seeing how all the Tech players live,” said Todd Kiilunen, a sophomore from Brighton who is second cousins with Blake Pietila.

The camp started with 44 registrants, but a few had to be turned away. The original intent was to have four teams throughout, but with numbers a tad low for that, Pearson decided to stick with two teams, Black and Gold, who competed in scrimmages throughout the week. Black ended up winning the “championship” scrimmage 5-4 in a shootout.

Pearson, who welcomed Finlandia hockey coach John McCabe to help out as well, said the intent of the camp was not for recruiting, but getting to see players close up was helpful. Tech plans to offer the camp during future summers as well.

“We just wanted to do it more for the players,” Pearson said. “A majority are local. … Next year we’ll see what happens.”

Next up on the Tech hockey calendar is the Aug. 9-10 hockey alumni reunion, which will feature an alumni game 7 p.m. Friday night free for the fans to come see Huskies alumni and Tech’s new video scoreboard.

The current Huskies are enjoying Track B of summer classes off, with many working out with personal trainers. Players took classes and worked out together five days a week during Track A. They won’t need to be back until fall classes start.

Check back to The Daily Mining Gazette the rest of the summer for feature articles on each of Tech’s 2013-14 incoming freshmen hockey players, and follow beat reporter Stephen Anderson on Twitter at @steander for frequent summer updates.