HOUGHTON, Mich. - Michigan Tech scored four goals in the first period and four more in the second to clobber arch rival Northern Michigan 8-2 tonight at the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena. Blake Pietila and Tanner Kero both had four-point nights to pace the Huskies to their best goal total in the series with the Wildcats.
Tech, which has won its last two games by a combined score of 14-3, improved to 10-14-4 with the victory. NMU fell to 12-14-3 with the loss.
"We were ready to go tonight, we worked hard and got some fortunate bounces early," said head coach Mel Pearson, who earned his first win over Northern Michigan as Tech's head coach. "Any time you beat Northern, it's good. Hopefully it's the first of many.
"This is a good rivalry, and it's only going to get better in the future with both teams being in the same conference."
Tech scored just 46 seconds into the game and didn't slow down until it had an 8-1 lead at the end of the second period. Kero tallied the opening goal with a wrister from the slot after Riley Sweeney's shot attempt had hit Kero and landed at his feet.
The Black and Gold struck again at the 5:28 mark on a nice play from Pietila, who skated around a defenseman to create a 2-on-1. Pietila fed the puck to the goal mouth, where Jacob Johnstone tapped it in for his first goal of the season.
Just two minutes later, Blake Pietila scored a goal of his own as his brother Chad threw the puck on net and it deflected off Blake's skate. Officials reviewed the play, and the goal stood.
Tech's fourth goal of the period came from Alex Petan on the power play. Steven Seigo's shot went off a defenseman's skate directly to Petan who buried his 11th of the season. Wildcat starting goaltender Jared Coreau was replaced in net by Michael Doan following the goal.
NMU finally broke through at the 8:59 mark of the opening frame as Erik Higby redirected a shot from the point past Pheonix Copley.
The visitors trailed 4-1 at the first intermission, but came out firing to start the second period. NMU put a lot of pucks on net including five during a power play. Copley made several big saves to keep the margin at three.
Walker Hyland tallied his second power play goal in as many games with a shot from the point at the 8:54 mark of the second to extend the margin to 5-1. The flood gates opened at the 13:22 mark when Jujhar Khaira fired home a wrist shot after a Wildcat turnover. His fifth goal of the season (first even strength) was the first of three Tech goals in a two minute span.
Kero pumped in his second of the game with a rebound during a power play. Ryan Furne added the Huskies' eighth goal at the 15:09 mark of the second. Coreau re-entered the game for the 'Cats after Furne's tally.
Jamie Phillips replaced Copley in net and played the third period. The score remained 8-1 until the final minute of play, when Jake Johnson put up NMU's second goal.
Six different Huskies had multi-point games. The Black and Gold finished 3-for-5 on the power play while holding the Wildcats scoreless on two chances.
Final shots on goal were 31-26 in favor of the Huskies.
Michigan Tech will play its fourth and fifth games in a nine-day span when it travels to Minnesota State Mankato this weekend. Games are 8:37 p.m. ET Friday (Feb. 15) and 8:07 p.m. ET Saturday (Feb. 16).
Notes: Tech has scored eight goals in a game against Northern Michigan three times now: Oct. 18, 1997 (8-2) and Jan. 19, 1985 (8-6) ... After having just 0-3=3 in the first 26 games of the season, Hyland has 2-2=4 in the last two ... Kero and Blake Pietila's four-point efforts were the most since Jordan Baker vs. Alaska Anchorage (3-1=4 on Jan. 14, 2012).