HOUGHTON, Mich. — Blake Hietala scored two goals in the first eight minutes to jumpstart Michigan Tech's offense in a 4-1 victory over rival Northern Michigan tonight in the Huskies home opener. A crowd of 3,944 witnessed Tech earn its first victory with a 33-15 advantage in shots on goal.
"It feels good," said head coach Mel Pearson. "I think our team's played well enough to win some other games and didn't. Tonight we did.
"It was important that we were at home and important that we got the lead. We had great electricity in the building tonight and a great crowd like there was last night (in Marquette). If that is any indication of what this rivalry's going to be like, I think we're all going to be happy."
Special teams had been a huge factor in Tech's first five games of the season. The Huskies penalty kill didn't see a lot of work tonight, but it was called on early as Mike Neville was called for goaltender interference just 24 seconds into the game.
Tech killed the penalty, and the offense got going shortly thereafter.
Hietala and line mate Max Vallis worked together on a rush with Hietala scoring from in tight on goaltender Mathias Dahlstrom just 6:33 into the contest.
One minute later while on the power play, Hietala walked to the slot from the left circle and buried a shot in the upper right corner for a 2-0 advantage.
Tech limited the Wildcats to just three shots in the opening 20 minutes.
Just 39 seconds into the second period, Neville chased down a puck in the offensive zone and centered a pass. Alex Petan chipped it past Dahlstrom for a 3-0 lead.
NMU broke up the shutout with Stephan Vigier's goal just 48 seconds later. Vigier intercepted a pass and tucked a shot inside the post. That would be the Wildcats' only tally.
David Johnstone closed out scoring at the 7:37 mark of the second period with his first goal of the season. Shane Hanna took a shot from the left point that rebounded to the back door. Johnstone banked his shot off Dahlstrom from below the goal line.
Pheonix Copley made eight of his 14 saves in third period to earn the victory. Dahlstrom posted 29 saves.
Michigan Tech, having played five of its first six games away from home, will head back on the road for a series at Michigan next weekend. Game one of the pair is scheduled for 7:35 p.m. Friday (Nov. 1).
Notes: Hietala continues to lead the team in points. He now has 2-3=5 in four games played … Daniel Holmberg, playing in his first game on the season, was an incredible 18-3 on faceoffs in the game … Freshmen Neville and Shane Hanna both recorded a pair of assists for their first career multi-point games … Tech has outscored NMU 12-3 in its last two home games vs. the Wildcats.