HOUGHTON, Mich. - On Senior Night at the MacInnes Student Ice, it was freshman Blake Pietila scoring the game winner with 1:38 remaining to lift Michigan Tech to a 3-2 victory over St. Cloud State. Tech (14-16-4 overall, 11-11-4 WCHA) earned the series split with the victory and remained in the hunt for home ice in the WCHA playoffs.
Pietila's goal broke a 2-all deadlock after St. Cloud (14-16-4, 11-12-3) had tied the game early in the third period. The winger, who switched from Brett Olson's line to Tanner Kero's before the game, was ironically assisted by Olson on the game winner. On the play, Justin Fillion found Olson open at the blue line, and the senior skated the puck into the zone and fed a pass over to Pietila in the left circle.
"I didn't see much, but they took away the pass so I took the shot," said Pietila, who joined six other Tech players with at least nine goals on the season. "I was able to get it upstairs and it went in."
The hosts played from ahead most of the game. In a penalty-plagued first period, Steven Seigo scored at the 12:39 mark. The junior defenseman collected a rebound in the high slot during 4-on-3 play and fired a shot through traffic that beat Mike Lee.
St. Cloud State answered just 1:42 into the second as the puck bounced off the end wall out in front to Nic Dowd, who scored.
Senior Alex MacLeod then registered his second goal of the weekend with just 2:12 remaining in the second. Jacob Johnstone took the puck from the defensive zone into the offensive zone and dropped a pass to MacLeod. The forward walked into the slot and buried a shot inside the left post to make it 2-1 Tech heading into the third.
The visitors drew even again early in the third with Nick Jensen's power play tally. The score remained 2-all through the next 13-plus minutes. Josh Robinson made several big-time saves to keep the game knotted before Tech started to control play down the stretch.
Robinson ended up with 18 saves in the contest to improve to 13-12-4 on the season. Lee suffered the loss with 25 saves.
"There are a couple of reasons why this was an important win for us," said head coach Mel Pearson. "Not only because it keeps us in the race for home ice or that we wanted to get a win for our seniors, but also to reward all the hard work the team has put in over the last few weeks."
Tech's six seniors-Olson, MacLeod, Robinson, Jordan Baker, Corson Cramer and Bryce Reddick were all honored in a postgame ceremony on the ice.
With only two games left on the regular season schedule, Michigan Tech sits just one point behind Colorado College and Nebraska Omaha which are tied for fifth in the WCHA standings. The Huskies travel to Colorado Springs to face CC Friday and Saturday (Mar. 2-3).
Notes: Tech snapped a six-game losing streak to St. Cloud with tonight's win ... David Johnstone, who had an assist on Seigo's goal, moved into a tie for second in the team scoring race with 26 points. Baker also has 26.