#CopperCountryStrong: Huskies return home, win on special night, 2-1
HOUGHTON — On a night where the Michigan Tech Huskies paid tribute to first responders and others who helped with the devastating flooding on Father’s Day by wearing special jerseys for their matchup with the Alaska Nanooks. The Huskies, who also dedicated the game to Thatcher Markham, a young man who lost his life in the tragedy, came out ahead, 2-1, when the final buzzer sounded at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena Friday night.
Freshman Tommy Parrottino scored the game-winning goal on a major power play in the second period and senior Devin Kero made 20 saves to earn the win.
Kero had a special reason for wanting to get the start Friday: Markham was his cousin.
“From my side of the ice, it was a great outpouring of support,” said Huskies coach Joe Shawhan. “That’s the thing about this community, our guys are on the ice but we have members of our family and our team up in the stands that are every bit as important to me or any of the players.
“It was a nice night to get a win on this night regardless of what the score was.”
The Huskies (6-5-0 overall, 5-0-0 WCHA) got themselves on the board first with a tip from freshman winger Brian Halonen. Halonen positioned himself to tip a shot from freshman defenseman Colin Swoyer at 11:08 in the contest.
The lead was short-lived as the Nanooks responded almost three minutes later with a power play goal from Colton Leer.
Despite the score being tied after the first, Shawhan was pleased with how the period went. The Huskies outshot the Nanooks 14-7 in the opening frame.
“We came out (and) had a really good first period,” he said. “I thought we carried the momentum through. I’m happy for Devin to get in there and get (the win). It was an emotional night for the whole team, but we can multiply that by 10 for Devin. He held his composure really well and I couldn’t be happier for him.”
The Huskies continued to play hard in front of Kero in the second period and eventually earned a major power play when Tyler Cline hit junior winger Gavin Gould from behind at 12:11. After struggling to find the back of the net while set up on the advantage, the Huskies did solve Nanooks goaltender Gustavs Grigals on an odd-man rush. Co-captain Jake Lucchini drove to the slot and fired a quick shot off a pass from junior center Alex Smith. While Lucchini’s shot did not beat Grigals, the rebound kicked right to Parrottino, who quickly fired a wrist shot that found the back of the net at 15:10.
“I thought we played well,” said Lucchini. “I think we had almost 50 shots. I think we had control for most of (the game). I think there’s areas that we can do better in defensively (with) control of the puck, but overall I thought we played well. Last weekend we couldn’t get that extra goal (but) this weekend we were able to keep the lead and kind of shut them down, so that’s a big positive moving forward for sure.”
Parrottino was excited to score what would stand as the game-winner.
“I thought we played pretty good (by) playing in their zone (and) had some Grade A chances,” said Parrottino. “It was amazing (to get the game-winning goal). Lucchini made a good pass off the goaltender and I was just there to put it in. I thought thought they had some good pushes of (momentum), but we weathered the storm and pushed right back at times and got the job done.”
While the win was important for the Huskies to keep their WCHA record clean, Shawhan felt the power play still needs a lot of work moving forward.
“I think a big thing to look at right now is our power play,” he said. “As our power play goes, I think our team will go because those are our upperclassman that have talent that have been through it. Right now, they’re fighting it a little bit on that power play. We switched (things and) put Tommy Parrottino (in) and he scored on the rush for us on that five minute major and that ends up being the winning goal.
“I think we just need to not try to think our way into scoring chances (but) react and take what’s given to us. I think that will equate to our 5-on-5 play. We’re doing a ton of things right on everything. We just aren’t making the plays that are ending up in the net. I think when we get a little more fluid things will fall into place.”
Alaska (2-9-2 overall, 2-4-1 WCHA) coach Erik Largen continues to work on his team’s identity and their consistency. At the same time, he credited the Huskies on a well-deserved win
“I thought Michigan Tech was really good tonight,” he said. “They earned all of their opportunities and I felt like they deserved to win that hockey game. I think we’ve got some work to do with some puck management things and just playing the game the right way all the time and finding some consistency. I thought Michigan Tech did a really nice job tonight.
“For us it’s (about) trying to find our identity (and) what we’re going to be. We need to be a hard-working team. We need to be a team that manages the game really well. Right now we’re just too easy to play against (and hopefully we can learn from the mistakes that we made).”
The Huskies will face Alaska again tonight at 7:07 p.m. at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
Volunteer groups were honored during the first intermission. Firefighters and first responders crossed the ice to a standing ovation after their efforts proved how strong the Copper Country can be.
Alaska 1 0 0 – 1
Michigan Tech 1 1 0 – 0
1, MTU, Brian Halonen (Colin Swoyer), 11:08
2, UAF, Ryker Leer (Sam Ruffin, Antti Virtanen), PP, 13:53
3, MTU, Tommy Parrottino (Jake Lucchini, Alex Smith), PP, 15:10
UAF, Grigals 18 15 13 – 46
MTU, Kero 6 7 7 – 20
UAF: 1/3; MTU: 1/4
UAF: 5/21; MTU: 4/8