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Exclusive interview: goalie Blake Pietila of Tech hockey team

When deciding where to play college hockey, the choice was obvious to Blake Pietila, 4th Year Mechanical Engineering student. He had strong family ties to the area and for him “hockey wise it just felt like the right fit”. In fact, Michigan Tech was his dream school. Since arriving on campus Pietila has to step up his game in order to rise to the top of Division I Hockey. As a Freshman,  he was “a little more timid and just trying to get used to everything”. That year, Pietila only played in six games and gave up an average of 3.24 goals a game. However, by his junior year, Pietila started 37 and gave up just under 2 goals a contest. This was no surprise to Pietila as he knows “improving on the little things goes a long way”.

In 2021-22, Pietila had an impressive individual season, earning Second-Team all Conference and making it to the semifinal round for the Mike Richter Award (an award given to the best goalie in college hockey). But for him, it has never been about individual accolades. Instead, it was being part of the team Great Lakes Invitational and making it to the National Tournament. Off the ice, he’s proud of “getting a good degree and getting good grades.” For him, it’s about the work he does “both on and off the ice maintaining both hockey and school”.

Last season was Pietila’s favorite yet because after all “you can’t beat winning and when you’re winning it’s fun.” But this year will present a new challenge. Most of the top scorers left, leaving behind a young and inexperienced squad. As Pietila acknowledges “a lot of this year has been instilling our systems into those guys and making sure all of the returners are on the same page.” However, with youth comes fresh energy and a new chance to shine. According to Pietila “everyone on the team is hopeful for opportunity” and the team is optimistic that “our young guys can step up and take advantage of the ice time.”

That optimism extends to Pietlia’s own approach to the season as he just wants to “get back out there and start games again”. A new-look team shouldn’t change too much as the goal remains to “finish as high as we can” and secure home ice for the CCHA Conference Tournament. Pietila believes that fans can “expect us to play hard every night as always and to make it a close game.” He assures that the team will “give it our best and put on a show for Michigan Tech”.

When the curtain finally closes on Pietila’s successful career as a Husky, Blake will move on to other goals. “I want to graduate with my ME degree, I am proud of that” he emphasizes. Beyond his degree, Pietila wants to take his hockey career as far as he can and view a game in the stands because after all he’s never actually watched a Tech game as a spectator! But for now, it’s about making the most of what Blake calls the  “best decision I’ve ever made” and doing what he loves most: Playing goalie for Michigan Tech.

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