MARQUETTE - After five games on the road, four losses, a tie and more penalties than the Michigan Tech hockey program cared to see, the Huskies finally return home tonight.
And no one could be happier than Huskies coach Mel Pearson.
"It's hard on the road," Pearson said. "You're not going to get many calls on the road. We haven't been getting any bounces on the road. We had two goals waved off - in Duluth a good goal and in Notre Dame - that could have changed the complexion of both of those games.
"It's going to be nice to be home."
The Huskies will host its Upper Peninsula archrival Northern Michigan at 7:07 p.m. tonight in the 2013-14 home opener following a 2-0 loss to the Wildcats on Friday in Marquette to kick off WCHA play.
The Huskies, who fell to 0-1-0 in the WCHA and 0-4-1 overall, only generated 24 shots on goal against NMU redshirt freshman goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom, who earned his first collegiate shutout in his third career start Friday.
What the Huskies did generate were penalties for the second game in a row to the tune of 10 calls for 42 minutes.
Two of the 10 calls resulted in five minute majors and 10-minute game misconducts for checking from behind.
That all came less than a week removed from a Sunday loss at Notre Dame where Tech was awarded 18 penalties for 85 minutes.
"We just couldn't get behind and play from behind like we did tonight," Pearson said.
"Northern got those three power plays right at the end of the first period and it took us out of the game. They had seven or 10 goals on the power play and we talked about it coming in. I can't tell you they were blatant penalties, but they were calls and they have a good power play."
The Wildcats picked up two first-period goals from senior forward Stephan Vigier and freshman defenseman turned forward Brock Maschmeyer and rode their lead for 40 minutes to improve to 1-0-0 in the WCHA and 2-3-0 overall.
Vigier sniped his fourth goal and fifth point of the season in five games past Tech sophomore goaltender Pheonix Copley 4:55 into the game to give the Wildcats a 1-0 lead over the Huskies. Maschmeyer scored on the power play at 16:08 of the first period to give NMU a 2-0 lead. With assists from Higby and senior defenseman Luke Eibler, he rang a wrister off the right goal post and in past Copley for his second goal of the season.
"To start off the league and get two points is a pretty big deal," Vigier said. "It feels good to have a great start, but we have to keep going."
The Huskies got 11 shots from its top line of junior wing Blake Pietila, junior center Tanner Kero of Hancock and sophomore forward Alex Petan with Kero peppering 11 on Dahlstrom.
None of those chances found the back of the net, however, to give Copley some offensive support after making 30 saves.
Pearson said he was "a little bit" surprised to see his team struggle offensively in its first five games, having scored only seven goals.
But he's not ready to panic or shake up the lines. First, Pearson wants to see what the Huskies can do in front of a home crowd.
"You can't overreact and we've been on the road from Day 1," Pearson said. "We have to get some confidence at home. We have to give our guys a chance to play at home and see what they do there."