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Tech announces new class of hockey recruits

April 28, 2012
By Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

HOUGHTON - Michigan Tech hockey coach Mel Pearson formally announced on Friday the addition of forward Malcolm Gould and goaltender Jamie Phillips to the 2012-13 recruiting class, which includes five other players who signed national letters of intent in November.

The class features four forwards, two goaltenders and one defenseman.

"The whole package is what we got in this class -- good hockey players, good citizens, strong students that will represent Michigan Tech both on the ice and off the ice," Pearson said. "And they want to be at Michigan Tech. They want to be part of this program going forward."

Article Photos

Michigan Tech hockey coach Mel Pearson, pictured at center, announced a recruiting class of seven players for the 2012-13 season Friday. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)

Assistant coaches Damon Whitten and Bill Muckalt led recruiting efforts for the Huskies, which centered on attracting highly skilled forwards with a knack for goal scoring.

"It's hard to preach and coach offense, but the defensive end we can teach that," Pearson said. "They have high-end skill but we'll work with them defensively. They fit into our overall vision for our program and the style we want to play with the skill, speed and aggressiveness."

Gould was added during the second signing period despite being heavily sought after by other schools. The 5-11, 175-pound forward tallied 14 goals and 17 assists during the 2010-11 season with the BCHL's Quesnel Millionaires, but Gould exploded for 36 goals and 36 assists in 2011-12 with the BCHL's Chilliwack Chiefs.

"He was in the top 15 in the league in scoring. He's very good offensively, creative, has a good knack around the net with the puck and soft hands," Pearson said. "One of the things he really mentioned is the chance to come in and play, and we're a program on the upswing with a coaching staff where we've all come from winning programs with a proven track record of placing guys in the next level."

Tech also secured two more of the BCHL's top scorers in Jujhar Khaira and Alex Petan.

Khaira's 29 goals and 50 assists in 2011-12 for Prince George were a key reason for him being the top-ranked player in the BCHL in the 2012 NHL Central Scouting draft rankings at No. 74.

"This year he was relied upon more and was given bigger responsibility. I thought he did a great job doing that," Pearson said. "He has good size, protects the puck extremely well. ... He's on people's radar."

Tech landed him as its first commit to this class. As much of a game-changer as Khaira has the potential to be, Pearson said Petan, who tallied 88 points in 55 games, may even have more of an immediate impact.

"He's a little older, and he really had a strong year," Pearson said. "His patience and puck skills separate him. ... He makes things happen because of his patience and poise."

C.J. Eick is Tech's final recruit, and he fits a different mold, a speedy 5-7, 160-pound forward with Chris Conner-like breakaway speed, but more suited to aggressive penalty killing than goal scoring.

"He'll primarily add some speed to our lineup and create opportunities on the forecheck," Pearson said. "I think his value cannot be underestimated."

Tech expects its incoming forward to take the offense to a new level, but Pearson has often said goaltending is the most important position on the team, and competition will be high there this fall.

Kevin Genoe returns, but he'll battle Phillips and Pheonix Copley for playing time.

"We have competition in net. (The recruits) were aware of that. It's just like on a football team with three really good quarterbacks," Pearson said. "It doesn't matter that it's two freshmen and a senior."

Both freshmen goaltenders are 6-3, 175 pounds, and Phillips is rated 26th among North American goaltenders on the 2012 draft rankings.

Both freshmen switched teams mid-season due to hotly contested goaltending battles -- Copley against Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick Adam Wilcox, for example.

Whoever plays in net will have a veteran defense in front of him since the Huskies don't lose any defensemen to graduation. Nick Cecere and Pete Heinonen have left the program, but recruit Walker Hyland will step in to fill the void.

"He had a tremendous year in the BC junior league. He's a late bloomer just starting to come into his own," said Pearson, who expects Hyland to add offense to the blue line. He tallied 44 points in 53 games for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs.

Check back to the Daily Mining Gazette throughout the summer for individual features on each of the incoming recruits.

With 2011-12 recruiting all but done, Pearson has shifted focus to a week of American Hockey Coaches Association meetings in Naples, Fla.

Coaches from around the country are gathering to finalize schedules, look to 2013-14 and conference realignment and assess rules during a rule-change summer.

The Huskies' active offseason also involves installation of a new ice plant at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena - demolition begins Monday and construction is expected to be completed by August - and switching to all new home/away/alternate jerseys with more of a throwback, NHL-style look.



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