HOUGHTON, Mich. - Michigan Tech senior right wing Jordan Baker scored with 59 seconds remaining to give the Huskies a 4-3 victory over American International tonight at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena in both teams regular-season opener. Baker slapped at the puck six times at the doorstep before finally putting home the game-winner and sending the home crowd of 2,440 into a frenzy.
"I just kept swinging at the puck," said Baker, who saw his first regular season game since 2009-10 (he missed all of 2010-11 with injury). "I think one of their defensemen may have bumped the goalie a little bit, and I was able to get it past him."
Baker tallied three points on the night, as did freshman Blake Pietila and junior Steven Seigo.
Tech dug itself an early hole as AIC tallied three even strength goals in the first period to hush the Huskies' faithful. The Yellow Jackets were able to finish half of their six shots on goal in the period against Huskies' goaltender Kevin Genoe.
Pietila made it a 3-1 score late in the second period on the power play. He stepped in from the goal line and snuck one past AIC netminder Ben Meisner inside the far post. Baker and Seigo drew assists on the play.
Coach Mel Pearson shook up the lines in the third period, and it paid off with three more Huskies' goals.
Pietila notched another power play goal at the 7:34 mark of the third as the puck took an odd bounce to him all alone in front of Meisner. He again buried it to the far post, this time banking it off the iron. Seigo and David Johnstone picked up assists.
The Huskies tacked on a third power play goal to tie the game with just 2:13 remaining. Seigo sniped a shot from the blue line through traffic in front of Meisner. Pietila and Baker were credited with the assists.
Tech continued to create changes late in the game. Senior captain Brett Olson gained possession of the puck deep inside the offensive zone and got it to the side of the net where Baker was able to hammer in the game winner.
"It feels good to get a win," said Pearson, who gained his first career win as a head coach. "We're a work in progress. We made some adjustments with the lines, and I thought we played with more desperation late in the game. It paid off."
Genoe settled down in the final two periods and finished with 17 saves. Meisner faced 37 shots and made 33 saves, 15 of those in the third period.
Michigan Tech thrived on special teams all night. The Huskies' were 3-for-4 on the power play while holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless in four chances on the man advantage. One of Tech's four kills was a major penalty to Baker for boarding that spanned the first intermission.
Michigan Tech (1-0-0) will go for the series sweep over American International (0-1-0) tomorrow night. Opening faceoff is set for 7:37 p.m.