HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech football team came from behind to beat Northwood, the Sports Hall of Fame 2012 class was honored and the Homecoming king and queen were crowned. Saturday night, the Huskies hockey team capped off an exciting weekend with a scoring outburst in an 8-4 home-opening victory over Lake Superior State.
Two days after falling 4-2 in Sault Ste. Marie, Tech opened up a 3-0 first-period lead, added four more in the second and fought through a penalty-filled third to split the season series against its future conference rivals.
"I thought we were ready to play tonight. We got off to a real good start. We talked about competing, getting a good start unlike we did (Thursday), and I think the crowd, the circumstances, everything really helped fuel our players," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "I thought our freshmen played excellent, our sophomores, right through the lineup. ... It was a good bounce-back game for our team."
Michigan Tech freshman forward Malcolm Gould tries to split Lake Superior State defenseman Matt Bruneteau (27) and Zach Loesch during Saturday’s 8-4 Huskies win at John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. (DMG photo by David Archambeau)
Tech's offense was buzzing right from the opening faceoff, and defenseman Dan Sova put the hosts on the scoreboard with a hard wrister at the 6:06 mark, beating LSSU netminder Kevin Kapalka.
Nine minutes later Hancock native Tanner Kero made it 2-0 and snapped a 13-game scoring drought dating back to last season.
"It's obviously a good start and a confidence thing. I'm feeling a little bit more comfortable with a year under my belt, and it feels good," Kero said. "Our first period Thursday was a little weak, so I think we came out flying."
Lake Superior State 0 2 2 - 4
Michigan Tech 3 4 1 - 8
First period - 1, MTU, Daniel Sova (Jacob Johnstone), 6:06; 2, MTU, Tanner Kero (Malcolm Gould, Milos Gordic), 14:55 PP; 3, MTU, Carl Nielsen (Brad Stebner, J. Johnstone), 16:13. Penalties - LSSU, Eric Drapluk (hooking), 2:23; LSSU, Buddy Robinson (hooking), 14:34; LSSU, Domenic Monardo (interference), 16:32.
Second period - 4, LSSU, Ben Power (Nick McParland, Monardo), 3:51; 5, MTU, Gordic (Kero, Blake Pietila), 5:58; 6, LSSU, Monardo (Robinson), 8:20 PP; 7, MTU, Dennis Rix (unassisted), 14:11 SH; 8, MTU, Alex Petan (David Johnstone, Jujhar Khaira), 16:12; 9, MTU, Gordic 2 (Kero, Sova), 18:46 PP. Penalties - MTU, C.J. Eick (tripping), 3:21; MTU, Sova (elbowing), 7:18; MTU, Daniel Holmberg (roughing), 13:17; LSSU, Zach Loesch (interference), 16:56.
Third period - 10, LSSU, Zach Sternberg (Andrew Perrault, Monardo), 4:57; 11, LSSU, Dan Radke (Loesch, Chris Ciotti), 5:20; 12, MTU, B. Pietila (Steven Seigo, D. Johnstone), 11:33 PP. Penalties - MTU, Ryan Furne (roughing), 0:48; MTU, Sova (boarding major), 0:56; MTU Brad Stebner (tripping), 4:57; LSSU, Austin McKay (roughing), 6:42; LSSU, Loesch (tripping), 11:07; LSSU, Sternberg (contact to the head), 16:08; MTU, D. Johnstone (checking from behind), 17:32.
Goalies - LSSU, Kevin Kapalka (29 shots, 22 saves); Tech, Kevin Genoe (26 shots, 22 saves).
Captain Carl Nielsen tacked on the third score less than two minutes later, sniping the puck into the top left corner of the net from a tough angle against Kapalka.
And the second period was even better.
Laker defenseman Ben Power broke Tech's shutout early in the period against senior goalie Kevin Genoe, but Milos Gordic responded shortly after, assisted by Kero.
LSSU cut the deficit to two again when Genoe partially whiffed on a pass that went right to Domenic Monardo. But again the Huskies responded, with a Dennis Rix shorthanded breakaway goal after a turnover at the LSSU offensive blue line by Andrew Perrault.
"I thought (Kapalka) gave up a couple goals early that were not typical of him," LSSU coach Jim Roque said. "You have to have great goaltending to win on the road and he played average but Tech played really good, they played hard and bounced back from a tough game at our place the other night. You have to give them a lot of credit."
Alex Petan then scored his first official collegiate goal - his hat trick was in the exhibition game - and Gordic added his second of the game two minutes after that, once again assisted by Kero.
"We just kept it simple, getting a lot of pucks to the net," Gordic said. "We were aggressive and that was key."
Through two periods, Tech outshot LSSU 29-12.
The third period, though, Tech battled through 11 penalty minutes, and LSSU was able to get two goals back. Zach Sternberg scored during a 5-on-3 that included a five-minute penalty on Sova and shortly after the power play expired Dan Radke trimmed the deficit to 7-4.
But, like it had in the second period, Tech pulled away, this time with the game's final goal by Blake Pietila.
Overall, Tech outshot LSSU 40-26.
"Some nights they don't go in, but for whatever reason tonight the puck was going in for us," Pearson said. "It'll give us some confidence offensively."
Tech will need that offense and confidence this weekend when it kicks off Western Collegiate Hockey Association play against the league's and nation's near-consensus No. 1, Minnesota.