HOUGHTON, Mich. — It has taken 17 games for Reid Sturos to break through for Michigan Tech, but when he finally did, his confidence rose so quickly he was able to do it again to help lift the Huskies to a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Ferris State on Friday night.
Sturos’ second goal of his career and the night came off a well-placed pass from co-captain Blake Pietila and proved to the be game-winner at 8:45 of the third.
“You can’t always rely on the on the top four scorers to get points in the game,” said Sturos, who played his third game flanking Pietila. “It’s always nice to get goals from guys who don’t usually score.”
The WCHA-leading Bulldogs (17-6-3 overall, 12-3-2 WCHA) have now lost three straight and four of their last six.
A week in between series seemed to work a little against the Huskies (8-13-6 overall, 6-7-4 WCHA) early as they showed signs of rust, despite getting some scoring chances.
Blake Hietala took two early penalties for the hosts, giving the Bulldogs two looks on the man-advantage. Fortunately for the Huskies, goaltender Jamie Phillips was able to keep things even.
“I think we were rusty the first period,” said MTU coach Mel Pearson. “Part of that is that bye week. As much as you emphasize how hard the game is going to be, I think you get away from it. I thought we saw some of that in the first period.”
Hietala was also noticeable offensively for the Huskies as he had a golden scoring opportunity after taking a cross-ice pass from C.J. Eick. Hietala made a toe-drag around a Bulldogs’ defender before firing a hard wrister at C.J. Motte, who made one of his 30 saves on the play.
The Bulldogs struck first late in the opening period when Andy Huff skated in and fired a shot that Phillips kicked back out in front of his net. The puck caromed off of Hietala and back into the goal at 16:14. Travis White and Brandon Anselmini both assisted on the goal.
“I thought both teams played well,” said Bulldogs’ coach Bob Daniels. “Overall, I wasn’t too upset with how we played and I thought Michigan Tech had a lot of jump tonight.”
Looking for a quick response, the Huskies got just that when David Johnstone crashed the net off the ensuing faceoff. Pietila fired the initial shot as Johnstone skated in on Motte. The rebound laid in the crease until Johnstone buried it at 16:24. Co-captain Brad Stebner also assisted on the goal, Johnstone’s fourth of the season.
“We didn’t do a whole lot different from what we did down at Big Rapids,” said Pietila, who scored three points for the first time this season. “A couple of plays worked out for us and I guess that was the difference.”
A misplayed drop pass in the offensive zone for the Bulldogs led to their second tally of the night.
After Kyle Schempp attempted a pass to Chad MacDonald, the Huskies’ defender nearest him backed away, thinking the play was dead, but instead MacDonald got a shot off. The rebound kicked out to Justin Buzzeo, whose shot again rebounded in front. MacDonald skated around the net before burying that rebound at 1:58 of the middle frame.
The game remained in the Bulldogs’ favor until T.J. Schlueter took a boarding penalty midway through the period. On the man-advantage, Sturos camped out in front of Motte. Shane Hanna blasted a long shot from the right point that the Huskies’ freshman tipped past Motte at 12:00. The goal, Sturos’ first career tally, was also assisted by Pietila.
Sturos had two more good looks at Motte before the second buzzer, including one in which he made a nifty little toe-drag around the Bulldogs’ defender. Both times, Motte made the stop.
Early in the third, the Huskies had a lengthy five-on-three advantage, but despite firing numerous shots at Motte, they could not bust through.
The Huskies and Bulldogs skated through a pretty evenly played period after the advantage. The Huskies earned two more power plays before the game ended, including a key one with 1:30 remaining, allowing them to keep Motte from getting to the Ferris State bench.
Phillips made 28 saves to earn the victory for the Huskies.