SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. — In what could be a budding rivalry when conferences realign next season, Lake Superior State beat Michigan Tech 4-2 behind two goals from its top line Thursday night at Taffy Abel Arena.
Top-liners Kellan Lain and Stephen Perfetto each had a goal and an assist, and Nick McParland broke a 2-2 tie with 7:39 remaining on the power play for the Lakers.
The game marked the first regular season meeting between the two schools since October 2010, a 6-2 Michigan Tech victory at Taffy Abel Arena.
The Lakers opened the scoring just 41 seconds into the hockey game when Lain beat Michigan Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley. Lain picked up a loose puck in the right faceoff circle and converted for the early lead.
The Lakers had an opportunity to add to the lead midway through the period when Huskies freshman forward Jujhar Khaira picked up a major penalty for checking from behind. The Lakers had a number of chances on the man advantage but couldn’t capitalize.
“The major didn’t hurt us in a bad way for momentum,” Lakers coach Jim Roque said. “It didn’t hurt us momentum-wise. We didn’t come out of it all depressed. [Not scoring] didn’t affect us in a bad way, which was all right.”
Said Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson: “We got through it but we didn’t do much in the first period [after it]. We had a bad period but it’s early in the season and you never know what you’re going to get. We came into the building sort of waiting to see what was going to happen instead of trying to force the play and push the pace. It didn’t seem to translate until the second period.”
Blake Pietila got the Huskies on the board just over four minutes into the second period when he converted a loose puck past Lakers goaltender Kevin Kapalka. An initial shot by Milos Gordic didn’t get through a crowd in front of Kapalka.
The Huskies took the lead when Dennis Rix converted a cross-slot feed from Justin Fillion just 2:58 into the third period.
The Lakers wasted little time tying the game up at two as Perfetto beat Copley high stick side through a crowd in the slot at 6:37.
Just under six minutes later, McParland converted a feed from Ciotti with Fillion in the penalty box to give the Lakers a 3-2 lead. Aaron Drapluk then gave the Lakers a 4-2 lead when he took a feed from Perfetto on a two-on-one and beat Copley to the glove side.
The Huskies had an opportunity late in the game to cut into the Lakers lead with McParland in the box but couldn’t capitalize.
“We played well in the first and third periods and I thought [Michigan Tech] had a good push in the second,” said Roque. “We had some good chances. We could have been up 3-0. We missed a back-door play, Domenic [Monardo] hit a crossbar and early in the second period we had a breakaway but Lain couldn’t score. Early on we could have been up; we got a really good jump.”
Kapalka stopped 31 shots for the Lakers (1-0). Copley stopped 18 shots for Michigan Tech (0-1).
“We found out tonight we have a lot to work on,” said Pearson. “It was almost like three different games. The first period was theirs and that five-minute major put us on our heels. In the second period, we came out much better and we took it to them pretty good. In the third period we got the lead. I told the team after, when you have a lead in the third period, you have to keep after it. We just sort of sat back.”
The two teams are back in action at Michigan Tech on Saturday night.