2008-09: Blake Pietila played for Compuware’s midget minor team in the Midwest Elite League and also skated for Compuware’s Tier 1 national championship U-16 squad. In 31 midget minor games, he scored 8 goals with 11 assists and received 8 PMs. Pietila committed to playing college hockey at Northern Michigan in 2011-12. His older brother Chad was a freshman for the Wildcats.
2009-10: Pietila was selected for the US National Team Development program and spent the bulk of the season with the U-17 squad: appearing in one U-18 game. In 41 games, he scored 10 goals with 6 assists and had 35 PMs. In 28 USHL games, he scored 5 goals with 3 assists and was minus-15 with 27 PMs. Pietila participated in the World Hockey Challenge U-17 tournament, scoring 1 goal in six games for Team USA.
2010-11: Pietila was one of four players to appear in all 60 games for the NTDP U-18 squad. He scored 14 goals with 9 assists and had 53 PMs. In 24 USHL contests, he scored 4 goals with 5 assists and was minus-4 with 20 PMs. Pietila was part of the gold-medal winning Team USA squad at the World Junior U-18 championship tournament and scored 1 goal in six games. Following the season, Pietila de-committed from Northern Michigan and will join his brother Chad, a transfer, and cousin Aaron Pietila, at Michigan Tech with first-year coach Mel Pearson’s Huskies program. Blake Pietila was ranked 105th amongst North American skaters by Central Scouting in their final rankings and selected by the Devils in the 5th round (129th overall) of the 2011 NHL Draft.
2011-12: Pietila skated in 39 games as a freshman and played a big part in the resurgence of the hockey program at Michigan Tech under first-year coach Mel Pearson. Pietila scored 10 goals with 14 assists and was minus-3 with 46 penalty minutes. After winning a total of 15 games in the previous three seasons, the Huskies finished eighth in the WCHA. The Huskies knocked off Colorado College in the conference tournament before falling to Denver in overtime in a Final Five quarterfinal. Michigan Tech’s 16 wins were the most for the program since 2006-07.
2012-13: Pietila was the second-leading goal scorer for Michigan Tech in his sophomore year and won a gold medal skating for the USA’s U20 team at the 2013 World Junior Championship. He scored 14 goals with 10 assists in 35 games for the Huskies and was minus-7 with 44 penalty minutes. Michigan Tech finished tenth in the WCHA and lost to North Dakota in a best-of-three first round series. Pietila and linemates Cole Bardreau and Ryan Hartman (Chicago) were a big part of the USA’s championship at the WJC in Sochi — shutting down the opposing teams’ top lines and chipping in with timely scoring. Pietila had 2 assists and was plus-5 in seven games.
2013-14: Pietila was the second-leading scorer for Michigan Tech behind sophomore Alex Petan in his junior season. Skating in 39 of 40 games, he scored 8 goals with 20 assists and was minus-4 with a team-leading 84 penalty minutes. Michigan Tech finished fifth in the first year of the re-aligned WCHA; falling to Bowling Green in two games in a best-of-three conference quarterfinal series.
Pietila is a smart, hard-working grinder who competes hard every shift. He's become an excellent forechecker and learned how to utilize his tools. Using speed and physicality, he creates turnovers, sometimes turning them into scoring chances. Short, stocky and built like a fire hydrant, Pietila is an effective penalty killer thanks to his hockey IQ and anticipation. His recent switch to center has enhanced his game in a more responsible role.
Pietilla is a senior at Michigan Tech in 2014-15. Centering the top line for the Huskies with wingers David Johnstone and Reid Sturos, he has been a strong two-way presence on a team that is challenging equally surprising Minnesota State for the top spot in the WCHA. Versatile enough to play either center or wing, Pietilla should fit in well in a Devils organization that values forwards who can play both forward positions. New Jersey must sign Pietilla to an entry-level contract by August 2015 or he would become an unrestricted free agent. While Pietilla does not project to being a consistent scorer his ability to play in all situations suggests he can be a valuable lower line forward one day.