Houghton, Mich. – After a long summer that featured several changes to their roster, both good and bad, the Michigan Tech Huskies returned to the ice Saturday night. All-WCHA Preseason Team pick Alex Petan did everything he could to guarantee a victory for the Huskies as the sophomore potted a hat trick en route to the Huskies’ 3–2 win at the MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Petan’s game-winning tally was not as intended, but it got the job done. In an attempt to feed freshman Brent Baltus, Petan’s pass hit a defender’s stick and slid into the back of the Laurentian Voyageurs’ net at 17:37 of the third period.
The Huskies dressed five lines, seven defense and all three goaltenders, but it was the line of Petan, junior Tanner Kero, and Baltus that had the greatest impact on the first period of play. About midway through the frame, Kero found Petan all alone in front of the Voyageurs’ net, but his wrister was stopped by Alain Valiquette.
“Having an opportunity to play more guys, it’s good and bad,” said Huskies’ head coach Mel Pearson. “As a coach, you want to try and get some rotation, but at the same time, I thought it was good for all the players who played tonight.”
An injury to a Voyageurs’ skater just over five minutes in delayed the action for about 25 minutes while he was removed from the ice by paramedics on a stretcher. All the momentum the Huskies came out of the gate with was lost in the confusion. Despite the delay, the Huskies bounced back to outshoot the Voyageurs 18–3 for the period.
The Huskies allowed the Voyageurs to hang around, and it cost them just 15 seconds into the second period. An errant shot deflected off a Huskies’ defender and past sophomore goaltender Pheonix Copley.
Just past the midway point of the middle frame, sophomore C.J. Eick had a chance to tie the game on a shorthanded breakaway, but his shot from the top of the crease hit the crossbar.
Petan evened the game at 12:15, after Kero found freshman Chris Leibinger at the point to set up the goal. Leibinger’s shot was redirected by Petan, but the tip was stopped. The rebound kicked back to Petan, who buried a backhander.
The Huskies struck again just 1:31 into the third period when Kero’s initial shot rebounded to Petan, who was circling near the net. Petan lifted another backhand shot past Valiquette.
The Voyageurs tied the game again, forcing the Huskies to work for every inch of the ice as their experience started to settle in. The Huskies remained mostly unfazed, however, and found the net again before all was said and done.
The Huskies outshot the Voyageurs, 59–21, for the night.
How can we begin the season’s stick salutes and not recognize the Huskies’ talented winger Alex Petan? The longer Saturday night’s game went, the clearer it became that Petan has the ability to change the game in a matter of seconds. Each of his first two goals came because he was in the right place at the right time, while his third came with some puck luck.
“I just try to go out there…I just gave it 100 percent,” said Petan. “Tonight we were fortunate enough to get a couple of bounces to go our way.”