Huskies mixing it up at Michigan

HOUGHTON – The Michigan Tech hockey team is hoping to make it a slightly awkward homecoming for head coach Mel Pearson.

For the first time since 1984, the Huskies will be playing Michigan inside the Yost Ice Arena, home to Pearson for 23 years as an assistant coach.

Tech knocked off Michigan 4-0 last season in the Great Lakes Invitational, so the familiarity of players will be there if not the locale.

Before any considerations go into protecting their coach’s interests, however, the Huskies will have to try and solve their road woes this season.

Tech opened the season 0-4-1 away from Houghton before looking much improved last Saturday in a 4-1 win over Northern Michigan at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena.

Through the first three years under Pearson, the Huskies have compiled a 7-26-5 road record and an 18-14-4 mark at home.

Pearson did not return a call seeking comment for this story.

A fast start was key for Tech Saturday, getting a pair of goals from Houghton-native Blake Hietala in the first eight minutes of action to put the Wildcats on their heels. It was the first lead Tech had taken all season, and the Huskies made sure to protect it, with Alex Petan tallying just 39 seconds into the second period and David Johnstone adding his first goal of the season minutes later to give the Huskies a comfortable three-goal lead.

Any type of lead at Michigan would be welcome with the way goaltender Pheonix Copley has started the season.

The sophomore was recently named WCHA Defensive Player of the Week and now ranks second overall in the WCHA in goals against average and save percentage (.939).

The Huskies will need Copley to be at his sharpest once again, as Michigan ranks No. 4 in the country with a 4-1-1 start to the year.