Detroit — It’s finally clear to Michigan Tech head coach Joe Shawhan that all roads to success go through goaltender Robbie Beydoun.
Beydoun stopped 36 of Michigan’s 38 shots in Sunday’s Great Lakes Invitational semifinal at Little Caesars Arena as the Huskies advanced to their fourth consecutive GLI championship appearance with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Wolverines.
Forward Tommy Parrottino — who also assisted on Tech’s first goal — got the winner in the fifth round of the shootout. Tech’s Jake Lucchini and Michigan’s Jake Slaker traded goals in round three.
Shawhan started Beydoun for just the third time this season, opting to ride with the sophomore goaltender who had not only gotten hot as of late, but also took Tech (11-7-1) to the GLI championship a year ago.
“As last year, when Robbie got a chance to get in there a few weeks back, he made the most of it,” Shawhan said.
“The biggest thing we’ve been looking for out of Robbie is, he has the most ability I think out of our goaltenders to steal a game for us. He showed that today.”
Beydoun’s biggest save of the game came in a chaotic third period — in which Michigan (6-7-5) was unable to break a 2-2 tie with 14 shots on net — when he stuffed Michigan forward Will Lockwood on a breakaway with 3:45 left in regulation.
“I’m just trying to stay patient and stay with him, read his stick play and track the puck,” Beydoun said.
“I knew at the time we didn’t have too much momentum going. I think they were pressing us pretty good and that a save would give our team some momentum.”
Michigan was without top scorers and former first-round NHL draft picks Quinn Hughes and Josh Norris, who are representing the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship.
The biggest mark of their absence was on special teams; the Wolverines were 0-for-4 with a man-advantage and fell behind 1-0 just 1:55 into the game after a lapse in backdoor coverage gave Tech a power play goal by Alec Broetzman.
“I think it was just some miscommunication, some misreads on our part,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said of the early breakdown.
"We did a poor job of covering some lanes there."
After a slow start, Michigan got on the board with Nolan Moyle’s first career goal at 6:02.
Moyle was pushed into Tech Beydoun while crashing the net for a rebound, which opened up Beydoun’s five-hole and allowed a bouncing puck to trickle through to tie things up at 1-1.
Tech rebounded to take the lead just 1:09 later. Brian Halonen carried the puck all the way around Michigan’s net and out to the high slot, where he banked a shot off a defender’s shin pad and into the net.
Adam Winborg deflected a shot from Nick Blankenburg near the end of the second period to tie things up at 2-2. Michigan goaltender Strauss Mann made 33 saves.
Michigan Tech will play in Monday's final against the winner of Sunday's later game between Michigan State and Lake Superior State.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.