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Blake Pietila named CCHA Student-Athlete of the Year

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Tech Huskies’ hockey team’s goaltender Blake Pietila has been named the CCHA Student-Athlete of the Year the conference announced on Wednesday. He was recently named a CCHA Scholar-Athlete and has been on the conference all-academic team for the last four years.

Given annually, the award is presented to one CCHA student-athlete who performed consistently as a regular member of their CCHA varsity hockey team, displayed outstanding sportsmanship, made satisfactory progress towards a degree, displayed leadership, and was active in community service off the ice, encompassing a positive culture of the institution and league. The award is nominated and voted on by each CCHA institution’s faculty athletics representative.

Pietila is a native of Howell, Michigan, and has started 28 of Tech’s 31 games this season. The alternate captain ranks fifth in the nation in minutes played and eighth in the nation with 754 saves this season. Pietila is 11-11-6 between the pipes with a 2.54 goals-against average and a .914 save percentage. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in the spring and is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration, holding a 3.62 cumulative grade-point average.

For his senior design project as an undergraduate, Pietila worked with a worldwide steel manufacturer and a UK-based engineering firm to solve an issue involving the interior design of an autonomous electric vehicle. Aiding a team that helped find a way that would allow the vehicle to be converted from single-use to multi-use, they were able to design, model, and are presently testing a system that allows for the vehicle to be efficiently transitioned from package/cargo to passenger transportation. His major contributions to this project included designing a custom T-rail system that will house a ball roller bearing, allowing for translational motion along the rails, as well as doing a Finite Element Analysis (FEA) on the locking pins that secure the mechanism into place.

Pietila was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Month for December after leading the Huskies to the 2023 Great Lakes Invitational Title. He was honored on the GLI All-Tournament Team after making a career-high 54 saves in a shootout win over No. 7 Michigan State. Pietila has also twice been named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week this season–an award he’s received 16 times in his career.

For his career, Pietila has been a three-time finalist for the Mike Richter Award. He was a 2023 First Team All-American and the CCHA Player and Goaltender of the Year last season. He was a Hobey Baker Top 10 Finalist in 2023 and has been a nominee for the past four seasons.

Pietila was an All-CCHA First Team selection in 2023 and Second Team pick in 2022. He holds Michigan Tech records for wins (69), shutouts (21), goaltender games played (133), season shutouts (10), season goals-against average (1.81), and season save percentage (.934). He is the active NCAA goaltender leader in games played, wins, and shutouts and is third in career saves and seventh in career goals against average.

Other Huskies to be honored as the conference student-athlete of the year are Jamie Phillips (2015-16), Tanner Kero (2014-15), Eli Vlaisavljevich (2009-10), and Geoff Sarjeant (1991-92).

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