SAULT STE. MARIE Michigan Tech freshman goalie Pheonix Copley got the start in the season opener against Lake Superior State on Thursday. Less than a minute in to his collegiate career, he gave up his first goal. It wasn't until almost 46 minutes later he gave up his second. Then his third. Then his fourth.
The Huskies allowed three straight goals in the third period and lost to their future Western Collegiate Hockey Association rivals 4-2 at Taffy Abel Arena. Tech had a 2-1 lead courtesy of a power-play goal by junior center Dennis Rix 2 minutes, 58 seconds in to the third.
"I thought Pheonix did a real nice job holding us in there in the first period," Huskies coach Mel Pearson said. "Overall, I thought he had a good, strong game. He looked comfortable in the net, he's a young kid, it's his first taste of real college hockey, and I think he has a bright future."
The Lakers answered with a goal from sophomore forward Stephen Perfetto at the 6:37 mark to tie. Then senior forward Nick McParland scored on the power play to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead with 7:39 to go. And freshman defenseman Eric Drapluk put in the dagger, streaking down the ice in transition and putting a Perfetto pass past Copley with 4:29 remaining.
The Huskies had one more chance on the power play that ended with no shots on goal. In five power plays, the Huskies had just four shots on goal.
"We found out we've got a lot to work on," Pearson said. "I told the team after, when you've got the lead in the third period you've gotta keep after them. And we just sorta sat back, and you're not going to win many games giving up three goals in the third on the road."
Michigan Tech 0 1 1 - 2
Lake Superior 1 0 3 - 4
First period 1, LSSU, Kellan Lain 1 (Domenic Monardo 1), 0:41. Penalties Jujhar Khaira, MTU (checking from behind) 8:06; Khaira, MTU (game misconduct) 8:06; Matt Bruneteau, LSSU (holding) 13:44.
Second period 2, MTU, Blake Pietila 1 (Milos Gordic 1, Tanner Kero 1), 4:08. Penalties Brad Stebner, MTU (high sticking) 4:54; Justin Fillion, MTU (incidental contact to the head-roughing) 9:42; Lain, LSSU (cross checking) 13:42.
Third period 3, MTU, Dennis Rix 1 (Fillion 1), 2:58 (pp). 4, LSSU, Stephen Perfetto 1 (Lain 1, Zach Loesch 1), 6:37. 5, LSSU, Nick McParland 1 (Zach Sternberg 1, Chris Ciotti 1), 12:21 (pp). 6, LSSU, Eric Drapluk 1 (Perfetto 1, Monardo 2), 15:31.
Shots on Goal-MTU 4-16-13-33. LSSU 11-5-6-22. Power-play opportunities-MTU 1 of 5; LSSU 1 of 6. Goalies-MTU, Pheonix Copley 0-1-0 (22 shots-18 saves). LSSU, Kevin Kapalka 1-0-0 (33 shots-31 saves). A-1,796. T-2:25. Referees-Brent Gawlik, Rodney Tocco. Linesmen-Marc DesRosiers, Andrew Soper.
Copley allowed his first goal on the first shift of the game off the first rebound from the first shot he faced. Lakers forward Domenic Monardo fired a shot to the pads, and junior center Kellan Lain was there for a wrist shot to the top of the net.
"(Copley) rebounded from that very well, and good for him," Pearson said. "He doesn't get rattled by too many things, and that's why he was the starter tonight."
A 5-minute major and game misconduct to freshman center Jujhar Khaira for a check from behind put a damper on the Huskies' chances in the first period, but they killed off the penalty well and carried the momentum into the second period, when sophomore forward Blake Pietila scored at the 4:08 mark. Pietila had a goal waved off less than a minute into the second period.
"We have to get off to a better start," Pearson said. "We have to force the pace of play, we have to play much better defensively in our zone, we have to play much stronger in our zone, and limit our turnovers. Just way too many turnovers."
The Huskies dominated the second period, outshooting the Lakers 16-5. They actually outshot the Lakers 13-6 in the third and 33-22 for the game, but the Lakers blocked 14 shots and kept the crease stocked with defenders. Lakers junior goalie Kevin Kapalka had 31 saves.
"I don't think Kapalka had to make a lot of amazing saves, other than a (Brad Stebner) breakaway when we fell asleep," Lakers coach Jim Roque said. "There was a lot of perimeter stuff, a lot of shots at his belly."
The Huskies host the Lakers on Saturday at MacInnes Student Ice Arena at 7:07 p.m.