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Hockey Opens Season Saturday vs. Brock

Hockey Opens Season Saturday vs. Brock

Saturday, October 6, 2012 • 7:07 p.m. (EDT) • John MacInnes Student Ice Arena (4,128)

Michigan Tech (0-0-0) hosts Brock (2-1-0)

Radio Broadcast: WKMJ 93.5 FM (Dirk Hembroff, Randy Heinonen)
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Full version of game notes.

Michigan Tech opens its 2012-13 season with an exhibition game vs. Brock University from St. Catharines, Ont., Saturday (Oct. 6). Including the exhibition, the Huskies will play four of their first five dates at home. Tech opens the regular season next Thursday (Oct. 11) at Lake Superior State before returning to play LSSU Saturday (Oct. 13). The team opens WCHA action at home vs. Minnesota Oct. 19-20.

Senior defenseman Carl Nielsen will serve as the Huskies' captain in 2012-13. The Amherst, Ohio, native was an assistant captain for the team a year ago and has played in 103 career games at Tech. Senior Steven Seigo and junior Brad Stebner will be assistant captains, giving the Huskies three defensemen in leadership roles.

No matter which color jerseys Michigan Tech wears in Saturday's (Oct. 6) exhibition vs. Brock, they will be brand new. The Huskies replaced all three sets of sweaters in the offseason. Tech wore all three colors (white, black and gold) at home during last year's campaign.

Michigan Tech enters 2012-13 with three capable goaltenders. Kevin Genoe is the only one with collegiate experience. The senior has appeared in 58 career games, but played in just seven a year ago behind a highly successful senior in Josh Robinson. Freshmen Pheonix Copley and Jamie Phillips are also fighting for the job. Copley finished last season with a .909 save percentage and 3.09 goals against average while playing for Tri-City (USHL). Phillips, a 2012 Winnipeg Jets draft pick (seventh round, 190th overall), tallied a .917 saves percentage and 3.11 GAA with the Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL).

Michigan Tech returns the same cast of coaches it had during the 2011-12 season: head coach Mel Pearson, assistant coaches Bill Muckalt and Damon Whitten and volunteer assistant Steve Shields. Both Muckalt and Shields have NHL playing experience. Muckalt played right wing for four different teams in five years with his most productive season of 16-20=36 coming with the Vancouver Canucks in 1998-99. Shields' career spanned 12 years and six different franchises. The goaltender posted career numbers of 2.67 goals against average and .911 save percentage in 246 games played.

Michigan Tech had an extremely balanced lineup last year as nine players had eight goals or more—the only team in the nation with that many. Six of those nine return to the program led by last year's top two goal scorers in Ryan Furne (12 goals) and David Johnstone (11). Blake Pietila (10 goals), Jacob Johnstone (nine), Tanner Kero (nine) and Milos Gordic (eight) are the others.

Coach Mel Pearson is expecting big contributions from his freshman class, especially on offense. Five freshmen forwards are looking to crack the lineup and chip in. NHL draft pick Jujhar Khaira (Edmonton, third round) headlines the group, but Alex Petan will be someone to watch as well. Petan and Khaira both finished in the top 10 in the BCHL scoring race a year ago. C.J. Eick, Malcolm Gould and Patrick Anderson all bring different qualities that could help Michigan Tech's offense take another step forward in 2012-13.

The Michigan Tech roster includes lots of family ties. Chad and Blake Pietila are brothers, and Aaron Pietila is their cousin. David and Jacob Johnstone are brothers. Blake Hietala and Tanner Kero are distant relatives.

Michigan Tech went three years without an NHL draft pick on the roster until Blake Pietila (New Jersey, fifth round) joined the squad last fall. Now, the Huskies have three draftees in the program. Forward Jujhar Khaira and goaltender Jamie Phillips were both selected in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Khaira was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the third round (63rd overall), while Phillips was picked in the seventh round by the Winnipeg Jets (190th overall).