HOUGHTON, Mich. — Looking for a better start in their home opener than they had on the road, the Michigan Tech Huskies got just that, scoring three times in the opening 20 minutes en route to an 8-4 victory over the visiting Lake Superior State Lakers Saturday night at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
The Huskies took the game to the Lakers almost from the drop of the ceremonial faceoff after the Huskies honored their 1961-62 national championship team before the game. Winger Milos Gordic picked up three points to help the Huskies’ cause.
“I thought we were ready to play tonight,” said Huskies coach Mel Pearson. “We got off to a real good start. We talked about competing, getting a good start, unlike we did the night before.”
On a second period Lakers power play, the Huskies netted what would stand as the game-winning tally when center Dennis Rix picked up a loose puck at center ice, skated it into the offensive zone and beat Lakers goaltender Kevin Kapalka through the legs at 14:11.
With a blast from the point through traffic, defenseman Daniel Sova got the Huskies on the board first at 6:06 of the first period. Taking a pass from center Jacob Johnstone, Sova moved into position on the left point before firing the shot that eluded Kapalka.
On their second power play of the night, center Tanner Kero extended the Huskies’ lead after receiving a cross-ice pass from winger Malcolm Gould. Kero cut around a Lakers defender and fired a shot that beat Kapalka over his glove at 14:55.
“We had kind of a rough night on Thursday,” said Kero. “I think we came out flying and playing good defensively; our coaches said shoot the puck, and that’s what we were doing.”
Less than two minutes later, Huskies defenseman Brad Stebner fired the puck up the right boards to captain Carl Nielsen. Nielsen cut to the net with the puck and beat Kapalka over the glove to the far side of the net at 16:13 for his first goal in almost a full calendar year.
“I thought [Kapalka's] couple goals early were not typical of him,” said Lakers coach Jim Roque. “You’ve got to have great goaltending on the road to win.”
The Lakers (1-1-0 overall) started the second period with a little more fire, and were rewarded for their efforts with a penalty shot awarded to forward Stephen Perfetto. The young forward attempted to catch Huskies goaltender Kevin Genoe with a complicated deke, but Genoe was equal to the task.
Center Ben Power did manage to get the Lakers on the board at 3:51 of the middle frame off a brilliant pass from winger Nick McParland from behind the net.
The Huskies (1-1-0 overall) stormed back, and just over two minutes later regained the three-goal lead when Gordic tipped a pass from Kero in the left corner past Kapalka at 5:58.
“We practiced that play off the draw with Tanner,” said Gordic. “He made a great play, looked for me right in the front of the net, and I just kind of got my stick on it.”
Lakers captain Domenic Monardo again cut the lead to two when Genoe misplayed a clearing pass while his team was short-handed. Genoe’s pass hit Lakers forward Buddy Robinson and kicked straight to Monardo, who buried the puck at 8:20.
Huskies winger Alex Petan added his first career goal on a rebound and Gordic added a second tally before the second period buzzer sounded.
With two Huskies off for separate penalties in the third, Lakers defenseman Zach Sternberg cut into the sizable Huskies lead with a shot that beat Genoe over the glove 4:57 into the period. On a second two-man advantage, forward Dan Radke added another Lakers goal at 5:20.
Huskies winger Blake Pietila regained the four-goal lead for the Huskies on a power play at 11:33 when he lifted a pass from assistant captain Steven Seigo over the glove of goaltender Niels-Erik Ravn, who replaced Kapalka to start the third.
Genoe made 22 saves to get the victory. Kapalka and Ravn combined for 32 saves for the Lakers in the loss.
This was the first time since Oct. 27, 2005, that the Huskies scored eight or more goals in a game.