Michigan Tech beats Michigan State to make fifth straight GLI final
Detroit — The third time wasn't the charm, and neither was the fourth.
But the Michigan Tech Huskies will have a fifth consecutive shot at the Great Lakes Invitational championship on Tuesday, following Monday's 4-2 win over Michigan State in the GLI semifinals at Little Caesars Arena.
Tommy Parrottino, Eric Gotz and Alex Smith scored third-period goals for the Huskies (11-8-1, 8-6-0 WCHA), who will face the winner of the Michigan vs. Ferris State semifinal on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m.
The Huskies have reached the GLI final the last four years — and are 0-4 in those games. Coach Joe Shawhan insisted that will have no bearing on his team's mental preparation for Tuesday's final.
"I'd love to win a championship. It'd be big for our program," Shawhan said. "I'm not going to say it's not important. It is important. But all we want to do is play well and what happened in the past has no bearing. To be honest with you, it wasn't even mentioned or talked about."
Besides, if any Huskies group has been blessed with short memory, it's probably this one; it demonstrated as much on Monday. The Huskies bounced back from early Spartan goals in both the first and second periods, pouncing on Michigan State (9-9-1, 6-3-1 Big Ten) to start the third with Parrottino's short-handed goal at 1:04 before Gotz netted the winner with 4:46 left.
"We've been in similar situations (this season)," said sophomore forward Trenton Bliss, who tied things up at 1-1 with a power-play goal at 18:15 in the first.
"Those type of moments help you for these, they help you know what you have to do. We have to be harder to play against, we've got to be better in battles, compete harder."
Tech goaltender Matt Jurusik saved 27 of 29 shots, keeping his team in the game while it found its legs.
"I think he's one of the top (goaltenders) in the nation," Alex Smith said. "We came out a couple periods slow and he bailed us out early and kept us in it. He's a big part of our team and you feel confident when he's in net."
Michigan State jumped on the power play early after Tech’s Chris Lipe took a crosschecking penalty at 0:22. The Spartans converted with a second left, as senior Sam Saliba buried a backdoor pass from freshman Josh Nodler (Calgary Flames) to go up 1-0 at 2:21.
Michigan State again in the second grabbed momentum quickly, as senior Logan Lambdin scored on a breakaway at 1:14. Nodler and Jagger Joshua assisted.
While disappointed with the final score, Michigan State coach Danton Cole said he was impressed by his team's second line, despite a penalty by Joshua paving the way for a power-play winner by Tech late in the third.
"Nodler and those guys, I thought, did a nice job," Cole said. "They skated well, Jagger, other than the penalty, played a pretty good game. He was skating well, and you need that depth of scoring."
Michigan State will play in the third-place game Tuesday at 11:30 a.m.
Nolan Bianchi is a freelance writer.