HOUGHTON, Mich. — Five minutes can make or break a hockey game. Just ask the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers. Tied 1-1 in the second period, the Chargers saw the host Michigan Tech Huskies notch three goals in a five-minute stretch to open the middle period as part of a seven-goal period and a 10-4 victory.
“Take out that second period and we played a good game,” said Chargers coach Mike Corbett. “We played into their hands in the second period.”
Winter Carnival Most Valuable Player Blake Pietila notched two goals and four points to lead the Huskies to the win, which also marked the first time the Huskies scored 10 goals in a game since Jan. 30, 1993, against Minnesota.
“I guess it wasn’t your average game,” said Pietila. “Things came a little bit easier for us offensively. But like I said last night, a win’s a win.”
Max Vallis nearly gave the Huskies (12-14-6 overall, 10-8-4 WCHA) the lead less than a minute later when a long shot from Jacob Johnstone bounced out to him as he cut to the net. Vallis had an open net to shoot at, but the Matt Larose managed to reach out and knock the puck away from the net with his stick.
“The toughest games to coach in are games like this where you should win,” said Huskies’ coach Mel Pearson. “I thought our guys did what they needed to do and found a way to get the four points.”
The Huskies scored on their first power play of the game. David Johnstone cut to the middle of the high slot with the puck before firing it on goal. The rebound kicked out to Reid Sturos, who pushed a backhand over to Pietila for the tap-in at 12:45.
Regan Soquila evened the game for the Chargers less than a minute later when Jack Prince got the puck along the right boards in the offensive zone. Prince fed Soquila in front of Huskies goalie Pheonix Copley, and the freshman wasted no time tying the game at 13:29.
Pietila regained the Huskies’ lead 3:34 into the second when he stuffed a rebound past Larose. Sturos fired the initial shot on goal off a pass from Shane Hanna.
Three minutes later, the Huskies struck again as assistant captain Dennis Rix attempted to make a pass to Jacob Johnstone, who was crashing the net. Rix’s pass hit Larose and caromed into the goal at 5:46, with assists going to Max Vallis and co-captain Brad Stebner.
Less than two minutes after that goal, C.J. Eick extended the lead to three during a four-on-four situation. Stealing the puck near his own blue line, Eick out-skated both Chargers’ defenders and then deked past Larose for the goal at 7:31.
After Hanna spent two minutes in the box for holding, Gould gave the Huskies a four-goal lead when he took a pass from Brent Baltus across the slot and buried a one-timer at 12:06.
The Chargers (1-28-1 overall, 1-18-1 WCHA) cut into the Huskies’ lead when Prince snatched up a rebound off a shot from Steven Koshey and pushed the puck past Copley at 15:56.
David Johnstone answered for the Huskies less than a minute later when he received a pass on his forehand from Pietila. Johnstone wasted no time winging a one-timer past Larose at 16:50.
Mike Neville notched the Huskies’ sixth goal of the middle period on a long shot through traffic at 17:08. Riley Sweeney and Eick both assisted on the goal. The goal ended Larose’s night.
Not finished yet, the Huskies struck one last time when Pietila won a draw in the offensive zone and found Sturos, who scored on a one-timer of his own at 19:14.
Prince notched his second of the night for the Chargers 2:02 into the final frame, but the Huskies answered two and a half minutes later with Gould’s second of the night.
Chad Brears notched the Chargers’ fourth tally of the night at 12:56, and then Vallis potted his first career goal to answer the Chargers’ tally at 14:19 and cap the game’s scoring.
Copley and Matt Wintjes combined to make 19 saves in the victory.