Thursday, January 12, 2012

Fillion Ready to go with Michigan Tech Huskies

What follows is an excerpt from the Mining Gazette, an online newspaper that covers the Michigan Tech Huskies NCAA Division I hockey program among other things. In this article - Husky Hockey Gets Reinforcements - Prince George Spruce Kings alumni Justin Fillion is featured as he prepares for the potential of playing in his first collegiate hockey game.

January 10, 2012
by Stephen Anderson - DMG Sports Writer ( , The Daily Mining Gazette

Defenseman Justin Fillion moves the puck during Michigan Tech
hockey practice Monday at MacInnes Student Ice Arena.
(photo by Stephen Anderson)

HOUGHTON - The 2011-12 Michigan Tech hockey team has a problem that the injury-riddled 2010-11 Huskies would have loved to have: too much depth. Consistent playing time has already been tough to come by for some players, but now the addition of junior forward Chad Pietila and freshman defenseman Justin Fillion to the active roster gives Tech 31 healthy players - 18 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goaltenders.

"We've got so many guys and they've all handled it well," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "It'll stiffen the competition and competition is good."

But nobody on the Huskies will face as quick of a transition as freshman Justin Fillion, who was originally slated to join the team in the fall with Tech's six other true freshmen.

Complications arose with the departure of most of last year's coaching staff and some academic issues that have since been resolved, and now Fillion faces the unenviable task of joining the team mid-season.

"There was a big kerfuffle ... so it's just one of those things that didn't work out, but I'm here now," Fillion said. "It's a great school, and a great hockey program."

While the Prince George, British Columbia native is a recruit from the previous coaching staff, his style as an offensive defenseman fits well with what Pearson wants on his team.

"He looks good and it looks like he'll add some things that we don't have a lot of on the team, which is puck handling and offensive ability from the back end," Pearson said. "We're happy to have him here - he skates well, thinks the game well and he can put up some numbers."

He totaled 56 points in 62 games during the 2010-11 season, which was split between the Prince George Spruce Kings and Victoria Grizzlies. The 21-year-old freshman tallied 123 points in 178 career games in the BCHL, and he spent last fall working out at home.

"I skated with my local junior-A team back home and hitting the gym every day, and working out in that sense, but it was definitely tough mentally not being here with the guys, but ever since I've been here, all the guys have been welcoming," Fillion said. "It's going to be really tough adjusting. I don't expect to play all that much - I just want to come in here and play my best."

Ultimately, the coaching staff will play the lineup they think will give Tech the best chance to win, but the decision won't be easy entering a key Western Collegiate Hockey Association home series against Alaska Anchorage this weekend.

On a bit of a sour side note, another Spruce Kings alumni that started his junior season with Alaska Anchorage will not be in the lineup for the Seawolves. Wes McLeod, who played with the Spruce Kings for three seasons (2007-2010) and finished out the 2009-10 season with the Spruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, is no longer listed on the team's roster with no explanation offered.

Kevin Genoe, another Spruce Kings alumni (2007-2009), is in to his third season with the Michigan Tech Huskies and has seen his numbers improve this year. Sitting with a record of 1-2 in his four games played so far, Genoe has a save percentage of .872 and goals against average of 2.74.

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