Huskies display quality of hockey in Michigan
On Tuesday, the Michigan Tech Huskies hockey team, under head coach Joe Shawhan, did something never seen before in the long, storied history of the program: they defeated both Michigan State and Michigan to win the Great Lakes Invitational. Even if hockey is not an activity you participate in, we at the Daily Mining Gazette feel confident that you, the reader, can appreciate that fact.
Not even under the great John MacInnes did the Huskies ever accomplish that feat.
The tournament victory marked the first time the Huskies had won the GLI since 2012, when the current Michigan coach Mel Pearson, who himself was a former Huskies player, was pacing the back of the Huskies’ bench.
To make things even more interesting, the Huskies won with a roster that features a number of either Michigan-born players, or players who have deep connections to the state.
The GLI Most Valuable Player was awarded to freshman center Logan Pietila. Logan and his twin brother Blake, who hail from Howell, are not the first Pietilas to play for Michigan Tech. Phil Pietila, who is an Iron Mountain native, played at Michigan Tech from 2001-05. His cousins Blake (not the goaltender) and Chad, Milford natives, played together from 2010-13. Blake also played a fourth season in Black and Gold, serving as a co-captain.
Another Pietila cousin, Aaron, a Brighton native, also played in Houghton from 2009-13.
Sterling Heights native Brendan Datema, a freshman, saw action in both games, going +2 in Tuesday’s win over Michigan. He grew up playing hockey in the Detroit area with Belle Tire and Victory Honda. Freshman winger Jake Crespi also grew up in the Belle Tire system before playing high school hockey in his hometown of Brighton.
Senior defenseman Todd Kiilunen played for Brighton high school before spending two seasons with Victory Honda as well.
Sophomore forward Tommy Parrottino is from Rochester Hills, grew up in the Little Caesars system, playing Bantam AAA there before moving on to the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies. Junior winger Justin Misiak, a St. Clair Shores native, also played in the Little Caesars organization.
Co-captain Raymond Brice is from Houghton and grew up in the Copper Country Junior Hockey Association before staring at Houghton High School.
Traverse City native Marcus Russell, a junior winger, did not see action in the GLI, but his father, Kerry, did during his years with the Spartans. Marcus moved to Detroit and played two seasons with Honeybaked before moving on to juniors.
Junior goaltender Robbie Beydoun is from Plymouth. He spent time with Compuware before moving on to the Michigan Warriors.
Freshman defenseman Chris Lipe, a Rockford native, played with Logan Pietila in juniors for a season after playing as a teammate of sophomore winger Brian Halonen the year before.
Another player with an interesting connection to Michigan hockey is junior defenseman Tyler Rockwell. The San Jose, California, native is the son of former Huskies goaltender John Rockwell, who was the last Huskies goaltender to earn GLI MVP honors before Pheonix Copley did during the 2012 tournament victory.
It really is amazing to sit down and walk through the connections involved in this Huskies squad. We would also not be surprised if we missed a couple in this list, but you, the reader, get the point anyway.
Hockey remains a very popular winter activity in the Copper Country, so we at the Daily Mining Gazette are proud to see that all of these current and former Huskies who have enjoyed a measure of success within the state of Michigan, have been a part of a special NCAA Division I hockey program in our backyard.