Baltus' OT goal lifts Tech over MSU in GLI semis

Al Willman
Special to The Detroit News

Detroit — Michigan Tech is no stranger to two-goal deficits to Michigan State.

The Huskies are also no stranger to overcoming those deficits — the latest a 3-2 overtime win over the Spartans on Tuesday afternoon in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena.

The Huskies will play the winner of Tuesday night's Michigan-Northern Michigan game for the GLI championship.

"We talked about it after the second period," Huskies coach Mel Pearson said. "We were down twice in East Lansing. I knew we had an opportunity to stay in the game."

BOX SCORE: Michigan Tech 3, Michigan State 2 (OT)

Michigan State goalie Jake Hildebrand skates towards his bench while Michigan Tech celebrates their win in the overtime. Michigan Tech wins 3-2 in overtime.

Alex Gillies, Jake Lucchini and Brent Baltus scored for Michigan Tech (11-6-2).

Jamie Phillips had 21 saves on 23 shots.

Matt DeBlouw and Mackenzie MacEachern scored for Michigan State (5-12-2).

Jake Hildebrand had 33 saves on 36 shots.

"It was a real tough loss for us," Michigan State coach Tom Anastos said. "It's really frustrating for our team."

Lucchini tied it at two for Tech it at 18:34 of the third on a wrist shot. Mark Auk and Gillies assisted.

It was 2-2 after regulation.

"We're a third-period team," Lucchini said.

Baltus scored the game winner at the 3:58 mark of overtime.

"I didn't see it," Hildebrand said of the shot. "They kind of criss-crossed right in front of me."

The last time the Huskies trailed the Spartans by two goals late, they won 5-4 — also in overtime — on Nov. 21.

DeBlouw opened the scoring at 5:36 of the first period with a goal that glanced off his left skate and past Phillips.

At the 16:15 mark of the first period, Michigan State went on the game's first power play when Tech's Dane Birks was called for hooking. The Spartans failed to capitalize on the man advantage.

MSU had a 1-0 lead after one period. Both teams had nine shots on goal.

Hildebrand was lights out in the first period, stopping all nine shots he faced. Phillips settled in after allowing the early goal.

Michigan Tech's defense, aside from the early goal, was strong. The Huskies blocked five shots before they reached Phillips. Michigan State's defense only blocked one.

DeBlouw picked up Michigan State's first penalty at 4:51 of the second — a minor for roughing. 24 seconds later, Rhett Holland went to the box for cross-checking, giving Tech a 5-on-3 advantage for 1:36.

The Spartans, largely because of a great glove save from Hildebrand, killed the 5-on-3.

Michigan State was called for too many men on the ice at 8:31 of the second (served by Connor Wood). Michigan Tech did not capitalize on the penalty.

After Tech's Auk was called for hooking at 12:43 of the second, MacEachern ripped a slap shot from the right faceoff circle past Phillips, giving the Spartans a 2-0 lead at the 13:05 mark.

The goal was MacEachern's eighth of the season, giving him the team lead.

Joel L'Esperance picked up a minor penalty (obstruction hooking) for Tech at the 18:49 mark of the second period.

At the end of the second period, Michigan State had a 2-0 lead.

Hildebrand remained perfect, stopping all 13 shots he saw in the second, while Phillips stopped each of MSU's five shots.

"I thought Hildebrand played extremely well," Pearson said. "We didn't get any puck luck in the second period. I thought he kept them in there, and we just weren't able to generate anything."

Michigan Tech scored its first goal at the 8:44 mark of the third. Gillies scored on a sprawled Hildebrand. The goal was reviewed and upheld, after it looked like Hildebrand was interfered with.

Michigan Tech picked up an interference penalty midway through the third period. Chris Leibinger was assessed a minor for interference at the 9:15 mark, but the Huskies killed the penalty.

Al Willman is a freelance writer