DETROIT — Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson remembers vividly the last time the Huskies won the Great Lakes Invitational.
And now, he remembers the most recent time after MTU defeated Western Michigan 4-0 Sunday night at Joe Louis Arena to claim its first GLI crown since 1980 – when Pearson was a player for the Huskies.
“I think I’m enjoying it more as a head coach,” Pearson said. “As a player, you just play. You come to the rink, you don’t put a lot into it, but as a coach, you’re doing it for a lot more than just yourself or your team. You’re doing it for so many other people that put so much into the program and all those 30 years and all those coaches and players that have come before. It’s just a real special feeling.
“I just couldn’t be prouder of this team. I’m so happy for Michigan Tech, the university, all the alumni and fans that have come down to this tournament the last 30 years and supported this team through a lot.”
Though the Broncos outshot the Huskies 32-22, tournament MVP Pheonix Copley was outstanding in kicking aside all 32 shots he faced to earn his second shutout of the GLI. He’s the first goaltender in GLI history to accomplish such a feat.
“I had no idea, so that’s pretty special,” Copley said. “Getting that MVP trophy was pretty special, too. It felt good, especially something like that for the seniors and the coaching staff. Obviously, the guys in front of me played really well covering the outside and made my job a lot easier.”
After Michigan Tech had a goal disallowed due to goaltender interference at 11:16 of the opening period, Dennis Rix scored one that counted at 18:28 of the first.
After a scoreless second period, Blake Hietala took a slick feed from Daniel Holmberg on a mini two-on-one from the top of the slot and beat WMU goalie Frank Slubowski (17 saves) for the 2-0 lead at 3:23 of the third period.
Tanner Kero tallied an empty-netter at 18:51 and then Aaron Pietila tacked on a power-play goal at 19:39 to close out the scoring.
Slubowski was pulled for Lukas Hafner at 16:57 of the third period in a move WMU coach Andy Murray said was “just trying to buy some time.”
“I told Lukas to ‘Take everything off’ because if I needed to do it, he had to be real slow taking his stuff off, but he was too quick,” said Murray. “We didn’t get as much of a rest as we wanted. It was just a way to buy some time. Lukas knew at a certain point we were going to pull him out of the net there.”
Pearson summed up the weekend for the Huskies.
“It was our time,” Pearson said. “It’s been a long time since we’ve won this tournament and I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
2012 GREAT LAKES INVITATIONAL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
G – Pheonix Copley, MTU
D – Danny DeKeyser, WMU
D – Steven Seigo, MTU
F – Mike Leone, WMU
F – Alex Petan, MTU
F – Jujhar Khaira, MTU
MVP – Copley