DETROIT — After a two week hiatus, the No. 18 Michigan State hockey team (9-9-1) lost the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) against Michigan Tech (11-8-1) by a score of 4-2 after taking five penalties and giving up a shorthanded goal.
Senior forwards Sam Saliba and Logan Lambdin both scored for MSU at Little Caesars Arena on a day where the team couldn’t capitalize on quality scoring chances and come up with a timely goal, something they’ve been doing for most of the year.
“I thought we got better as the game went on,” Head Coach Danton Cole said. “(Michigan Tech) had the chances and they buried them.”
The Spartans wasted little time getting on the board, dictating the pace of the game early. Just 2:21 into the game, Saliba would get his fifth of the season as time wound down on a power play. Freshman center Josh Nodler fed a pass through the slot that found its way to Saliba, who buried the one-timer to give MSU a 1-0 lead.
The Huskies would respond on a power play of their own later on in the first. Patiently waiting in front of the net, MTU forward Trenton Bliss received a pass and was looking at an empty net, as senior goaltender John Lethemon was unable to slide over in time. Bliss put the puck through senior defenseman Jerad Rosburg’s legs and tied the game up 1-1 with 1:45 remaining in the opening period, and the score would stay that way as the two teams headed back to the locker room.
The green and white would come out firing once again as play began in the second period. Lambdin broke loose for a breakaway just over a minute in and deked out MTU goaltender Matt Jurusik to give the Spartans the lead once again. The goal was Lambdin’s fifth of the season.
Despite being outshot 25-16 and eight total penalties between the two teams after forty minutes of play, Michigan State found themselves up 2-1 heading into the third period.
The theme of early goals continued as the final period of play got underway, but it would be Michigan Tech who would get the tally this time. On a Michigan State power play, MTU forward Tommy Parrottino blocked an attempt to dump the puck in the offensive zone by junior wing Mitchell Lewandowski and rushed the puck up the right side of the ice. As Parrottino looked across the slot to see if a pass was available, he decided shooting it was the best option and put one past Lethemon to tie the game 2-2 just 1:04 into the third period.
With 4:46 remaining in the game, the Huskies would put Michigan State on their heels. MTU defenseman Eric Gotz brought the puck around from behind the net and created space for himself to get a clear look on net. Getting the open lane, Gotz roofed one past Lethemon and gave Tech a 3-2 lead, much to the approval of many MTU fans in attendance.
Lethemon went to the bench as the clock moved closer to zero to give the Spartans the man-advantage as they tried to tie the game late, but an empty-net goal from MTU center Alex Smith sealed a 4-2 victory for the Huskies, propelling them into the championship game.
“(Jurusik) played well,” Lambdin said. “You have to give him credit for that, but I still don’t think we tested him enough...they played hard and their goalie played well for what we tested him with.”
The Spartans will now play in the third-place game tomorrow morning against the loser of the Michigan vs. Ferris State game. Puck drop is set for 11:30 a.m.