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FINAL: Spartans comeback effort thwarted, fall to Michigan in OT

December 30, 2016
Senior center Thomas Ebbing (28) brings the puck up the rink and is covered by Michigan center Cooper Marody (20) during the second period of the 52nd Annual Great Lakes Invitational third-place game against the University of Michigan on Dec. 30, 2016 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
Senior center Thomas Ebbing (28) brings the puck up the rink and is covered by Michigan center Cooper Marody (20) during the second period of the 52nd Annual Great Lakes Invitational third-place game against the University of Michigan on Dec. 30, 2016 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. —
Photo by Nic Antaya | and Nic Antaya The State News

It was a similar scene for the MSU hockey team heading into the third and final period in the third place game of the Great Lakes Invitational, or GLI. The Spartans were staring at a 4-1 deficit with just 20 minutes of game time left against in-state rival University of Michigan. But a furious comeback attempt from the Spartans would have them typing it up four goals apiece with just 2:10 left, eventually falling in overtime to the Wolverines, 5-4.

It wasn't the ideal matchup for both struggling squads at the historic Joe Louis Arena, but coming in, it was a rivalry game nonetheless between MSU (4-11-1) and Michigan (8-9-1).

Both teams would come into the matchup desperately looking to right the ship and season, scuffling to losing records on the year. The Spartans dropped their matchup to No. 16 Western Michigan the night before. The icers donning maize and blue replicated the effort to a soaring Michigan Tech squad, 2-0.

Of late, both MSU and U-M struggled on its way to Detroit. MSU would be riding the waves of a four-game losing streak while U-M had dropped its last four of five games.

Along with Friday afternoon's matchup, the Spartans and Wolverines are scheduled to play four other regular season bouts, including once again at the Joe for the Iron D Trophy - the hockey version of football's Paul Bunyan Trophy.

Among the lineups, freshman defenseman Butrus Ghafari was replaced by fellow newcomer in defenseman Damian Chrcek. The biggest shift, though, came in the net as freshman goaltender John Lethemon slid in for junior Ed Minney.

Much like the previous night, the Spartans started off fast with great chances to score the puck, but were unable to do so. In a similar vein, special teams continued to haunt MSU.

The Wolverines' first power play of the night would also lead to their first goal. Forward Tony Calderone benefited from a loose puck which he scored less than four minutes into the match.

With the momentum on their side, the maize and blue started to pile on as forward Will Lockwood had a great move to earn the Wolverines a two-score lead. The goal came unassisted as Lockwood faked out the Spartans' defense en route to his seventh goal of the season.

MSU, though, responded in a big way to cut into the growing deficit. A great long pass from junior defenseman Carson Gatt fed freshman forward Logan Lambdin, whose ensuing wristshot made it a 2-1 game.

The Wolverines would add to their lead following the score less than two minutes later. Forward Alex Kile would jam it into the net, regaining the Wolverines' multi-goal lead.

At the end of the first period, the Wolverines would take the 3-1 lead over the Spartans. As the horn sounded, though, some extracurricular activities would leave redshirt-freshman Jerad Rosburg and Wolverines forward Kevin Lohan in the penalty box to begin the second period.

U-M would continue to hold its two-score lead until Kile struck again. It came off a tip-in from a shot courtesy of teammate defenseman Sam Piazza. Upon further review by the officials, they deemed it a good goal, further stumping the Spartans' comeback effort.

Following 40 minutes of game play, MSU was staring at a 4-1 deficit in the face, similar to the night before against the Broncos. The Spartans were getting more looks at the net, evidenced by their 28-20 shots on goal lead, but the impressive play by goaltender Zach Nagelvoort thrwated any chance of the green and white gaining much momentum.

In a twist, the Spartans would come out of the locker room firing to start the third period, scoring just seven seconds into the final frame. Sophomore forward Mason Appleton would be credited for the score breaking away after a nice pass courtesy of sophomore defenseman Zach Osburn.

With some momentum sliding over to the MSU side, the Spartans continued to pile on. Gatt notched his second goal of the season on a slap-shot which found the upper left hand corner of the net. With 15:28 still left to go, it was a brand new game with the Spartans rolling.

MSU continued to create pressure on the Wolverines, generating some nice looks on the net. Gatt just missed his second goal of the game as the net bounced off the post. At that point, though, momentum had sided with the Spartans.

The plot thickened when the Spartans were finally able to score the equalizer with just 2:10 left in the match. Senior forward JT Stenglein came through for MSU, scoring the decisive goal to bring his team all the way back from being down 4-1.

The game would roll into overtime with the Spartans looking to put an exclamation point on the comeback effort. Unfortunately for the green and white, the furious comeback fell just short, with Calderone netting the game-winner and second of the match, winning it for the Wolverines, 5-4.

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MSU will continue Big Ten conference play when the team will travel to Madison, Wis. to take on the University of Wisconsin Jan. 6-7. Both games will be televised on Big Ten Network.

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