HOUGHTON, Mich. — After six weeks on the road, the Michigan Tech Huskies were eager to play their first home matchup since early December.
Despite trailing just over two minutes in to the visiting Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves, the Huskies stormed back, thanks in part to three points from sophomore winger Ryan Furne, to get the win, 6-2, at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
“You can’t force offense,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “It was good to see some pucks go in for us.”
Leading after one period, the Huskies (10-11-1 overall, 7-7-1 WCHA) looked to strike quickly in the middle frame. Furne took a rink-wide pass from freshman winger Blake Pietila and buried a long wrist shot just 44 seconds in to put the Huskies up by a pair. Captain Brett Olson also picked up an assist on the play.
“To go up two goals is big,” said Furne. “We carried the momentum throughout the rest of the game.”
The Huskies came out guns a blazing in the opening minute of play, but couldn’t find any room behind Seawolves’ goaltender Chris Kamal, who made three stops before the Seawolves (6-11-1 overall, 3-11-1 WCHA) could clear the puck out of their zone. When they finally did, they made the Huskies pay.
Seawolves’ defenseman Derek Docken notched his first career goal at the 2:24 mark of the first period when his shot from the left point skittered through traffic and past Huskies’ netminder Josh Robinson. Winger Andrew Pettit assisted on the goal.
“I thought we were fine (tonight),” said Seawolves’ coach Dave Shyiak. “It’s just a matter of sharpening up around the net. We just have to be a little sharper with the puck.”
Looking to respond quickly, the Huskies struck back a little over a minute and a half later when freshman center Tanner Kero buried a rebound behind Kamal during a goal mouth scramble at 3:52. Sophomore winger Milos Gordic fired the initial shot that Kamal struggled to cover before Kero got to it.
Playing in just his third game for the black and gold, junior winger Chad Pietila put the Huskies ahead for good 12:03 into the opening frame when he placed a wrister under the crossbar to Kamal’s left. The goal, his first of the season, was set up by a solid individual effort by sophomore center Dennis Rix. Robinson also assisted on the goal.
“I didn’t really know to expect,” said Pietila. “I wouldn’t say it was overwhelming, but I was a little nervous to play at home here.”
Less than a minute after Furne extended the Huskies’ lead, freshman defenseman Justin Fillion scored a goal in his first collegiate game to push the lead to three. Fillion’s goal was assisted by freshman winger David Johnstone and senior winger Alex MacLeod.
Shyiak called his timeout in order to calm his squad down and the move worked as the Seawolves began to take the play to the Huskies after the goal. Robinson was called upon to make 10 saves in the second period as a result of the change in play from the Seawolves.
The Huskies did manage to extend their lead to four when David Johnstone took a pass across the crease from Gordic and buried it behind new Seawolves’ goaltender Dusan Sidor at 17:33 of the second period. Furne also assisted on the goal.
Furne assisted on the Huskies’ final goal at the 15:13 mark of the final frame when he found Blake Pietila, whose third shot of the night found the back of the goal. Sophomore defenseman Carl Nielsen also assisted on the goal.
Robinson made 25 stops en route to his ninth win of the season. Kamal and Sidor combined to make 23 saves for the Seawolves.
The Huskies finished with six goals for the first time since Oct. 28, when they posted seven against then-No. 2 Denver.