Goalie Blake Pietila key to MTU hockey team’s CCHA surge

Published: Feb. 8, 2023 at 5:32 PM EST
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HOUGHTON, Mich. (WLUC) - With four games left in the regular season, the Michigan Tech hockey team is in second place in the CCHA.

Just a point behind Minnesota State, the 12th-ranked Huskies host third-place Bowling Green for a Winter Carnival series this weekend.

Statistics will show you that Michigan Tech is having a phenomenal season. Even though the entire team has been working hard, one player has stuck out.

Senior goalie Blake Pietila is up for a lot of big awards this year and was named CCHA Goaltender of the month for October and January. Pietila says while awards and praise are nice, he tries to focus on doing what he can to help the team.

“I honestly don’t think I do anything different,” Pietila said on Wednesday. “I just try to work hard every day and take it one step at a time.”

Pietila leads the nation in shutouts with eight. His save percentage is .931.

The Howell native says being in the zone and blocking pucks is basically routine at this point. Head Coach Joe Shawhan says Pietila is the team’s anchor.

“Much of our success is based around him,” said Shawhan. “We take him for granted daily. We certainly appreciate him, I enjoy watching him, but I don’t think there’s anybody more valuable to their team in the country than he is to us.”

Shawhan also says the offense relies on Pietila.

“I honestly think in some ways it stunts players’ overall development because you can get by with some much because he’s back there to bail you out,” he said.

Pietila’s twin brother Logan says over the years he’s noticed Blake is sometimes the first one on the ice and the last one and the last one off.

“I see that he’s always putting the work in on the ice and taking extra reps with the goalie coach and just really trying to do good at his work,” said Logan. “So, obviously, that’s going to stand out and he’s been doing well this year.”

As for next year, Pietila says a fifth year is always an option, but he also might explore the pro ranks if possible.

Face off Friday in Houghton is at 7:07 p.m. eastern. Saturday’s game starts at 5:07 p.m. eastern. The Huskies and Falcons split their first series of the season in Ohio in November.

The Huskies finish the season at Minnesota State on Feb. 24 and 25 for a series that could decide the CCHA regular season championship. The Huskies were picked to finish fifth in the preseason poll.