Detroit – The best team doesn't always win hockey tournaments. Sometimes the best team finishes third.
Such was Michigan Tech's fate at the 50th Great Lakes Invitational. The No. 5 Huskies (14-4) were the only ranked team in the tournament and they dominated play in a 2-1 loss to Michigan in the first semifinal on Sunday.
They took their frustrations out on Ferris State Monday, jumping out to a 4-0 lead and holding on for a 4-2 win in the consolation game.
"We were disappointed with the loss yesterday (to Michigan)," said Huskies captain Tanner Kero. "But we got the win today and salvaged the weekend."
The Huskies offense, which had 45 of its 86 shot attempts against Michigan miss or get blocked, got a big lift from their fourth line.
Freshman Joel L'Esperance (Brighton) made the play that set up the first goal and then scored his first collegiate goal to make it 3-0.
On the lone goal of the first, L'Esperance started the play by forcing a turnover in the corner. He tipped the puck to Dylan Steman who made a quick pass in the slot to CJ Eick, who buried a shot past Ferris State goalie CJ Motte's trapper.
After junior Malcolm Gould scored his second goal of the tournament and seventh of the season 59 seconds into the second period, L'Esperance made it 3-0 with a strong individual play. He skated around defenseman Jason Binkley then beat Motte with a backhand to forehand move.
"I've been around this tournament a long time and I've seen a lot of times where a team's top player or top scorer isn't always the difference-maker," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "For us to get to goals from our fourth line was a huge lift."
Kero, who assisted on Gould's goal, made it 4-0 just four minutes later – converting a 2-on-1 shorthanded rush. It was his sixth goal of the season.
Ferris State got one back on that same power-play chance. Brandon Anselmini deflected a slap shot from Ryan Lowney past goalie Jamie Phillips.
The second goal came 1:57 into the third and it's one Phillips wants back. Defenseman Simon Denis flipped a harmless looking shot that somehow got over Phillips' glove and under the crossbar.
The Bulldogs (9-9-1) ended up winless in their GLI debut, but they went down swinging. They fired 35 shots at Phillips and controlled play for much of the final period.
Chris McCosky on Twitter @cmccosky