In what was supposed to be the most evenly-matched Great Lakes Invitational in years, #14 Michigan State staked themselves to a two-goal lead through two periods before defeating the slumping Michigan Tech Huskies 3–1.
Michigan Tech carried the puck possession early, recording five shots on Spartans goalie Drew Palmisano before his Huskies counterpart, Josh Robinson, saw a single shot on goal. Unfortunately, Michigan State’s Greg Wolfe took advantage of an early holding penalty on Dennis Rix at 4:20, firing a low rebound past Josh Robinson’s blocker side at 5:31 of the first period on the power play. Robinson would probably like that rebound back, but the penalty kill made a costly positional error that didn’t help him much either. Tech continued to possess the puck well at even strength for the remainder of the first, recording 15 shots to the Spartans’ 6.
Despite a continued edge in possession and rushes up the ice, the Huskies could only manage soft dump-ins and shots into Palmisano’s chest. Spartans forward Chris Forfar tallied another one for the visitors at 5:29 of the second period, tapping an easy goal into a wide-open net on a cross-crease pass from Trevor Nill. There was little chance for Josh Robinson on the play. Michigan State took a late penalty that sent Lee Reimer to the box for tripping at 19:29, giving the Huskies their first full power play of the game, 1:31 of which carried over into the third period.
Tech failed to score on that power play chance, but the Spartans gifted the Huskies a goal when Brett Perlini and Torey Krug took back-to-back penalties at 5:43 and 6:40 of the third for hooking and tripping, respectively. Michigan Tech forward Ryan Furne finally slammed one home from mid-slot on the ensuing 5-on-3 advantage at 7:28, assisted by David Johnstone and Steven Seigo. It was one of the few chances from the slot that the Huskies mustered all game, let alone converted. As the third wore on, the Huskies seemed to run out of gas, and despite back-to-back timeouts by both teams with approximately 45 seconds to play, Perlini slapped home the empty net goal to seal the win for Michigan State at 19:46.
Overall, this writer was very disappointed with Tech’s performance yesterday evening. The Huskies seemed to take far too many low-percentage shots from the perimeter. Despite their effort for the first 50 minutes, they failed to set up and finish plays, and rarely fought for rebounds in front of Palmisano, who did not have anywhere near as great a game as the shots would indicate. It felt like the senior leadership did not lead on the ice, nor in the locker room. I hope to see a better effort against the Boston College Eagles in the third place game this afternoon.