HOUGHTON, Mich. - Michigan Tech welcomed back long-time rival Michigan State to the John MacInnes Student Ice Arena tonight by shutting out the Spartans 3-0 in front of 3,145 fans. The Huskies played a strong game on both ends of the ice, and Pheonix Copley posted 19 saves to earn his first shutout of the season and fourth of his career.
David Johnstone scored 5:49 into the first period and Tanner Kero and Alex Petan scored third-period markers to help the Huskies improve to 2-0 at home and 2-6-1 on the season.
"We were ready to go tonight," said head coach Mel Pearson. "I give our guys a lot of credit. They were very professional about the start of the game and being ready. It certainly helped having the crowd and students lining up to get in the door."
Tech controlled play throughout the game-especially in the first and third periods with big advantages in shots on goal. The Black and Gold held an 11-6 edge in the first and 12-6 margin in the third for a 30-19 mark for the game.
Johnstone's goal and eventual game winner came via a nice feed from Ryan Furne. The senior intercepted a Spartan pass in the offensive zone and found Johnstone for a tap in on the back door.
The teams skated through the next 36 minutes without a goal. Tech killed off three MSU power plays during that time and kept them 0-for-3 for the game.
Kero made it a 2-0 advantage 1:48 into the third with a wrister from the slot. Blake Pietila kept possession with a spin move after gaining the offensive zone before sending a pass over to Kero who was joining the rush. Kero walked into the high slot and beat MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand between his legs.
Petan put the game away with 4:40 remaining in the final period with a shot from outside the right circle that found its way through traffic in front of Hildebrand. Pietila drew his second assist of the night, and Kero also had a helper.
Copley, who went through long stretches without seeing a shot, turned away six in the first period, seven in the second and six in the third.
"The guys have played good defense in front of me all season," said Copley. "Tonight they really kept things to the outside and didn't give up any real grade A chances. That makes my job a lot easier."
Tech, which had played seven of its first eight games on the road before tonight, has now outscored opponents 7-1 in two home games this season.
The Huskies will be home for three more in a row including tomorrow night's rematch with the Spartans. Faceoff is set for 7:07 p.m.
Notes: Prior to tonight, Tech's last home game against Michigan State was Winter Carnival 1984, a Huskies sweep ... Michigan Tech improved to 79-73-2 all-time against MSU and 42-16-2 at home against the Spartans with the win ... Tech's top line of Kero, Pietila and Petan each had two points in the contest. It was Kero's first goal of the season.