Michigan State scored three power-play goals and added two more with the teams skating four apiece as the Spartans beat Michigan Tech 6-2 in the third-place game of the 38th annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena.
Tech got on the board first just 3:30 into the game as Jon Pittis tipped a Colin Murphy pass high over MSU goaltender Justin Tobe from the top of the crease. Freshman Chris Conner extended his point-scoring streak to seven games with the second assist on the play.
The Spartans evened the game on Jon Michael Liles’ power-play goal from the center point at 10:57. The score remained 1-1 after 20 minutes.
Michigan State had the first five shots on goal, but the Huskies outshot the Spartans 12-6 for the rest of the period despite giving up the tying goal.
“Tobe made a couple of big saves for us early on and showed how important goaltending is,” said MSU coach Rick Comley.
A sequence of penalties late in the first and early in the second might have been the turning point in the game. Spartan Kevin Estrada (slashing) and Husky Bryan Perez (tripping) went off late in the first, but in the opening minute of the second, a five-minute major on the Spartans’ Lee Falardeau (hitting from behind) gave Tech a brief four-on-three.
But once Estrada’s penalty ended, the Spartans took the lead for good on Brad Fast’s four-on-four tally at 1:13.
“[Brock] Radunske was along the boards, and they sent a few guys to him. I was surprised, I looked up and I was the only one in front of the goal,” said Fast of his score.
The Spartans killed the remainder of the major penalty, and never looked back.
“I think killing the penalty turned the game around,” said Fast. “I think we responded well after it.”
MSU gained a 3-1 advantage at 9:28 as Jim Slater got behind the Tech defense and beat Ellsworth upstairs on a breakaway
The final goal of the period came just after Tech had one man back from a 5-on-3 deficit. Brian Maloney put it home on a mad scramble from the slot at 18:16.
“I think the second period was our best period all year,” said Comley. “It allowed us to take the game over. Michigan Tech played the late game last night and it showed.”
“We skated well (in the first) and then in the second period it looked like we took 20 minutes off,” said MTU head coach Mike Sertich. “It was hard because we were tired, but we can’t use that as an excuse because there’s not much difference in three hours.”
Tech cut the lead to 4-2 on Brett Engelhardt’s power-play marker at 8:44 of the third period, but that’s as close as the Huskies could get.
Ellsworth made 34 saves in the MTU net, while Tobe had 29 stops for Michigan State.
Michigan Tech plays at Alaska-Anchorage this Friday and Saturday, while at the same time Michigan State visits Lake Superior for a pair.