Here is the first in a series we're calling Meet Your Freshmen. We must give credit to our predecessor, the now defunct Tech Hockey Blog and Bethlyn McCallum for the idea. We thought it was important to continue this tradition and give you a little information about the new players. We start with Blake Pietila. He's the first Michigan Tech player to come from the USNTDP since Brian Perez (2001) and Brett Engelhardt (2000). Blake helped lead USA to Gold in the U-18 Five Nations Tournament in February 2011. In June 2011, he was selected in the 5th round of the NHL Draft by the New Jersey Devils.
Number: 19 Position: Forward Hometown: Milford, Mich. Last Team: USNTDP (USHL)
THG: Why did you decide to come to Michigan Tech? Who else wanted you to play for them?
Blake Pietila (BP): I came to MTU to be able to play with my brother Chad and play in front of my grandparents and other relatives in the area.
THG: Which team are you most excited to beat this season?
BP: I am most excited to play against North Dakota this year because they have a good team and have been a rival of MTU.
THG: What are your hockey goals for this season? after Michigan Tech?
BP: My goal for this season is to get better everyday and learn from each game I play. If I do this I think I can further my career after Michigan Tech.
THG: Which older Husky player on the team is your mentor?
BP: My mentor on the team is my brother Chad who I've always looked up to in hockey growing up. He has been a huge influence on my career to this point.
THG: What do you think of new head coach, Mel Pearson?
BP: I think Coach Pearson is the best man for the job as head coach and will help restore a winning tradition at MTU as well as develop every player who plays for him.
THG: What do you think of the new college hockey landscape (formation of Big Ten & NCHC)?
BP: I think the NCAA is moving in different directions as far as conferences and they are doing what they think is best for college hockey as a whole.
THG: What do you bring to the team, where do you feel you'll contribute the most?
BP: I feel I bring a power-forward style of game with skill to the team and will help contribute offensive and defensively this year.
THG: What aspect of your game do you think needs the most improvement to help improve your game for the college level?
BP: I think I need to improve my quickness and foot speed to be most effective against college teams
THG: How have you been preparing for the jump from juniors to WCHA hockey?
BP: Last season with the US U-18 team we played a half schedule against college teams so that was valuable experience and a huge learning curve going into this season.
THG: Who is your biggest influence in hockey?
BP: My biggest influence in hockey has been my parents Bob and Karen. My Dad got me started in hockey and both of them have sacrificed so much for me.
THG: Does the energy and noise level of the crowd affect the way you play?
BP: I always play better and have much more fun with a bigger and louder crowd. Also I enjoy playing on the road with a crowd rooting against you. [Hopefully you'll be hearing a loud pro-MTU crowd at a few road games this year.]
THG: What is your major at Michigan Tech?
THG: What do you know about Mitch's Misfits or TechHockeyGuide.com?
BP: I haven't heard of either one. [Give it time, you will.]
THG: Who are you rooming with this year? Tell me something fun about your roommate!
BP: I am living off campus this year with my brother Chad, Alan L'Esperance and another cousin of ours.
THG: Recite your favorite movie quote... and just in case, tell me what movie it's from.
BP: Anything from Happy Gilmore really...[Happy learned how to putt! Uh-oh!]
THG: What is your favorite Husky jersey?
BP: White jersey
THG: Do you think you'd be more productive as linemates with your brother or cousin?
BP: I am going to try and be at my best no matter who I play with so we will have to see if it happens.
THG: Where's the first place you'd travel to if time and money weren't an issue?
BP: I would travel to Alaska.[Then you're going to love the weekend before Thanksgiving.]
THG: What's your favorite TV show?
BP: King of Queens
THG: Finally, what would you like to say to all of the Michigan Tech faithful?
BP: The new future of Michigan Tech hockey starts this year and a winning tradition will be restored soon enough.