DETROIT - The Michigan Tech Huskies tested Michigan State goaltender Drew Palmisano repeatedly in the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational, yet it wasn’t enough.
The No. 14 Spartans won the game 2-1, giving them a bid to Friday evening’s championship matchup against the winner of Michigan and Boston College, and leaving the Huskies to await the loser in the consolation game.
Michigan Tech, who annually hosts the prestigious tournament, was led by first year head coach Mel Pearson. Pearson – a Michigan Tech alum – worked as an assistant coach to Red Berenson at the University of Michigan for 23 years.
“Well, I thought we were ready to play tonight, we got off to a good start, especially the first five minutes,” Pearson said. “Obviously, we got that powerplay goal early and that sort of set the tone.
“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to score much lately and it was a struggle to score again tonight. I thought Palmisano played a real great game. We made it easy on him though, we didn’t get in front of him, we didn’t seem to get to the rebounds. We’re proud of our team, I thought they played real hard, and I’m just disappointed for them that we couldn’t get the win tonight.”
Michigan Tech came out with firepower, peppering MSU goaltender Drew Palmisano with multiple point-blank shots during the opening minutes. MTU, who last won the GLI in 1980 when Pearson was a player, looked to bring back some GLI success under their new leader.
Despite Michigan Tech’s early offense, MSU opened the scoring at 5:31 of the first with a power-play goal from right wing Greg Wolfe, who banged a rebound past goalie Josh Robinson on a shot from the point. Assists went to defensemen Tim Buttery and Matt Crandell.
The Huskies took their one-goal deficit into the first intermission, outshooting the Spartans 15-6 in the first.
The Spartans struck again at 5:29 of the second when left wing Chris Forfar one-timed a pass from defenseman Trevor Nill from the left face-off circle. Anthony Hayes also assisted.
There was plenty of back and forth action in the second period, with both squads fighting for an opportunity to play in the championship game tomorrow evening. Robinson came up with a brilliant save with a minute remaining in the period to shut down a Spartan 2-on-1 opportunity and keep the Huskies within two goals.
Michigan Tech trailed 2-0 heading into the second intermission, and couldn’t capitalize on a power-play opportunity to open the third. Through 40 minutes the Huskies had out-shot the Spartans 31-15.
The Huskies found the score sheet at 7:28 of the third when left wing Ryan Furne scored on the power play, putting one passed Palmisano on a 5-on-3 opportunity. David Johnstone and Steven Seigo assisted.
“It was tough for our team to get going,” Furne said. “I put the puck in the back of the net. We were lucky enough to get a 5-on-3 and get a good opportunity from state and David Johnstone made a good pass and, lucky enough, I was able to put it in the back of the net.”
That was all the Huskies could muster against Palmisano and the Spartans.
Brett Perlini iced the game for MSU with an empty net goal with 14.5 seconds remaining in the final frame giving Michigan State a chance to play for the GLI championship tomorrow night, despite being outshot 46-26.
“Obviously, I played at Michigan Tech, I was fortunate to win this tournament,” Pearson said. “I just wanted for these kids to at least get into the championship game. It’s always special to come in here, they played very hard for me this year, I’m just disappointed for them because they put in a real good effort tonight.”