In a thrilling close to a much-missed Great Lakes Invitational, Michigan State upset Michigan Tech 3-2 in an affair that warranted a combined 75 shots and one overtime period.
Freshman left wing David Gucciardi notched his second and third goals of the two-game series, including the game-winner in overtime to earn first star honors for the Spartans (11-8-1). Senior goaltender Drew DeRidder managed 43 saves — his fourth game with 40-plus saves this season — to take second star honors while junior center Josh Nodler chipped in one goal in the second period. Michigan Tech’s (10-8-1) senior right wing Brian Halonen earned third star honors with a goal of his own in the second period.
The late win saw Michigan State get outshot 45-30 and weather a brutal offensive onslaught in the second period but they more than rose to the occasion with DeRidder shining between the pipes in his third consecutive start. The Spartans' penalty kill also stood tall for the second night in a row, holding Tech to three scoreless shifts while at a competitive disadvantage.
The game began with both teams flying up and down the ice as Michigan State managed some clean looks at the net early in the first period from junior left wing Jagger Joshua and junior center Nicolas Müller but came up fruitless. Still, after a lesser start against Western Michigan the day before, the Spartans looked more than game to around with a hard-charging Tech team.
Between some of the Spartan’s crisper possessions, the Huskies racked up plenty of early scoring chances on their own, including a burning shot from senior left wing Justin Misiak that was deflected off DeRidder’s chest. Tech earned the first power play of the game after Gucciardi was whistled for hooking and yet, Tech came up with nothing.
Not so for the Spartans. After freshman right wing Ryland Mosley was sent off for slashing, freshman center Jesse Tucker nicked a pass to junior right wing Griffin Loughran at the right side of the net.
Loughran, diving and sweeping his puck at once, sent it back to Gucciardi. As Loughran skidded towards the board, Gucciardi, like the night before, sliced the puck on a line through traffic and past sophomore goaltender Blake Pietila to put Michigan State on the board and electrify the Munn crowd with the 1-0 lead.
Misiak threatened for the Huskies late in the first period but couldn't get his shot past DeRidder. Despite outshooting the Spartans 14-11 in the first period, Tech failed to convert on their fewer quality chances—a trend that wouldn't hold for long.
In a charging odd man rush midway through the second period, Bliss found a streaking Halonen in front of the net. Halonen curled the puck back and ripped it past DeRidder to put Tech on the board and tie it with one goal apiece, a crucial strike for a Huskies team leading in nearly every single offensive category.
Mosley found himself alone in the box later on after being whistled for slashing once again and Michigan State didn’t hesitate to try and recreate the success they’ve had the past two days. That is, Loughran firmly supplanted on the right side of the goal, rushing errant attempts out to Tucker, who’d ship them to Gucciardi high in the zone, ever willing to deke once and fire one without a second thought at Pietila.
However, this formula came up short in the Spartan’s second power play. And once sophomore center Kristof Papp was sent to the sidelines for tripping with nine seconds left in Mosley’s own stay, they had to shift lines and mentalities quickly to manage a kill in what was becoming another grind of a game.
A shorthanded Spartan crowd created enough hesitancy to survive Tech’s third unsuccessful power play but it wasn’t as if the Huskies didn’t come close. Bliss fired one off the top pipe, the ping echoing through Munn along with the groans of Tech fans who knew just how close they’d come to taking an elusive lead.
And after the final clearing pass, the Huskies racked up the bulk of their dazzling 20 shots in the second period—a crisp 14 more than what Michigan State managed in the same twenty minutes. Through it all, DeRidder hung tough as Tech planted themselves in the Spartan’s zone and aced attempt after attempt his way, the anxiety in the building growing with each one as the period waned down.
With 38 seconds left in the period, the Spartans got a brief respite from the onslaught to bring the puck back to a now-unfamiliar Tech zone. Loughran got the puck off senior defenseman Cole Krygier behind the net and he fired a pass off to Nodler.
Nodler rifled his shot past Pietila and Munn’s faithful erupted. At a clear disadvantage in shots and time spent in the opposition’s zone, they’d still managed to take a 2-1 lead against a quality opponent.
Like before, it was an upper hand that would fall quickly. Barely three minutes into the third period, freshman right wing Nick Nardella found himself on the left side of the net, edging a redirect up and in on DeRidder to tie the game at 2-2.
From there, the third period developed a breathless pace with goalies pressed up against their pipes with a mass of skaters enveloping them. The Spartans got a nice opportunity when junior center Parker Saretsky was called off for tripping but aside from a monster slapshot from sophomore right wing Jeremy Davidson missing wide, it did little to garner any momentum for the home team.
Sophomore right wing A.J. Hodges almost had it on a reverse but Pietila got his glove out to stop it. The Spartans even managed to dominate the puck for the final fretful minutes but failed to convert on a late power play after Halonen was called for tripping, another chance squandered as both teams skated harder than they had all night.
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Müller had one last clean look, sending his shot too high over Tech’s net. Following a Huskies timeout with five seconds left, senior defenseman Dennis Cesana ushered the puck towards the net, only for a deflection as the horn sounded. Overtime had arrived.
Skating three, Michigan State sent out Nodler, Cesana and junior left wing Erik Middendorf to start the overtime period. The Spartans and Huskies battled each other around throughout the first two suspenseful minutes of the period, each breakaway enveloping the crowd in a hush.
It looked routine enough as Tucker broke through and skated up the left side of the ice before passing it to Gucciardi at the right corner of the net. The result would be anything but as Gucciardi got the puck and swept it up and through his legs, the puck bypassed Pietila and capped off an exuberant 3-2 win for the Spartans.
Michigan State returns to action against Minnesota at home. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
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