MSU hockey loses 3-2 in overtime to Michigan Tech at Joe Louis Arena
MSU hockey’s (5-12-2) pursuit for its first Great Lakes Invitational title since 2009 will have to wait another year. The Spartans let a 2-0 third period lead slip through their grasp, as Michigan Tech (11-6-2) came back for a 3-2 overtime victory.
“We came out on the short end,” MSU head coach Tom Anastos said. “Our team’s obviously disappointed with how the game went.”
That may be an understatement as senior forward Matt DeBlouw said the loss was physically and emotionally draining. Draining sums up MSU this season as it has only one win in its last 10 games.
MSU did, however, look promising early by benefiting from a MTU turnover.
Junior forward JT Stenglein took the puck into the Huskies end and fired it off the right pad of MTU goalie Jamie Phillips. A speedy Matt DeBlouw crashed the net and received a rebound, which clipped off his skate and in behind Phillips.
The second period provided further chances for the Huskies as a triplet of MSU penalties gave MTU its best chances of the night. A sprawling save by MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand after the puck ricocheted off the back boards to MTU forward Tyler Heinonen who had nothing but twine in his eyesight.
Heinonen eyes quickly found the rafters there after, not comprehending how that sure goal stayed out. Hildebrand’s diving stop only increased his confidence that has been lacking in recent months. Hildebrand was out in his crease more, challenging shooters, and adding more agility to his play.
With Hildebrand back stopping at peak performance, the Spartans were able to boost the lead to 2-0 on the power play. MSU junior forward Mackenzie MacEachern, setup by senior forward Michael Ferrantino and freshman forward Brennan Sanford, one-timed the puck off Phillips’ outstretched skate and into the net with 6:55 to go in the period.
Michigan Tech’s efforts to climb back into the game was rewarded when an incredible save yielded a rebound right to Alex Gillies who squeaked it underneath Hildebrand to put Tech within a goal.
The equalizer would come in the last minute, just like it had the previous two times the two teams met. Jake Lucchini found the loose puck in a scramble in front of Hildebrand and slapped it into the empty cage to tie it up 2-2. A tenacious effort was rewarded.
“I wish I knew the answer,” DeBlouw said trying to sum up how after three tries against MTU it was the same result. “We just have to bear down, trust in one another, and not hold the stick so tight.”
The Huskies snatched victory from the Spartans when Brent Baltus skated into the Spartan end, cocked his body and stick, and slapped it top shelf from just inside the blue line.
“I wanna make that save especially in overtime,” Hildebrand said. “I got to try and find a way to make that next time.”
Hildebrand, however, had no chance to see it and no way to make the save — a perfect shot that hit and left the net as quickly as it flew off the stick. Hildebrand was stout all night stopping 33 of the 36 shots thrown at him.
“Just gotta go home, regroup, and live to fight another day,” MacEachern said.
MSU will play in the consolation game tomorrow at 3 p.m. against the loser of the Michigan and Northern Michigan contest.