Grand Rapids – Lansing State Journal sportswriter Nathaniel Votto covers No. 7 Michigan State Hockey’s 3-3 tie and subsequent shootout loss to Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational final.
MSU, which defeated Ferris State 4-1 on Thursday night, was aiming for its first GLI title in 14 years on Friday night. Standing in their way was Michigan Tech, a team whose season had begun with an overtime victory over Alaska-Fairbanks in the GLI semifinals.
The teams tied the game 3-3 after 60 minutes, but in the 3-3 overtime period and penalty shootout, Michigan Tech goaltender Blake Pietila stood on his feet and MSU’s Carsen Dorwart, Daniel Russell, Joey Larson stopped moving. The consecutive tries gave the Huskies their 57th GLI title.
Michigan Tech forward Jack Works, who was named the tournament’s MVP, scored all three of the Huskies’ goals in regulation.
Larson scored MSU’s first two goals, both in the second period. The Spartans dominated in the middle, outscoring Tech 16-1 and taking a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes.
Works scored twice in the third period to give Tech the lead, but junior defenseman David Gucciardi bounced junior forward Red Savage with a great pass, and Savage beat Pietila with about eight minutes left. The game was tied up.
Gucciardi and Larson were named to MSU’s all-tournament team, while Pietila filled out the rest of the team along with Mosley and defenseman Chase Pietila from Tech University. Pietila was voted MVP.
Pietila made 54 saves on the night, and MSU freshman goaltender Luca Di Pasco stopped 24 shots.
The final result was a tie for MSU with a 14-4 record on the season. The Spartans haven’t lost in regulation since playing Boston College in October. But it certainly felt like a loss in the locker room and a missed opportunity with the hardware.
Pietila’s performance in net, especially in overtime, was outstanding. He took special moments away from multiple Spartans, including Larson’s hat trick and graduate forward and Grand Rapids native Reid Rebster not scoring the winning goal in his hometown.
MSU played a balanced game, and the second period might have been its most dominant of the season. Michigan Tech (10-8-4) is a disciplined and tough defensive team, but the Spartans move the puck in the offensive zone for long periods of time, play behind the Tech defense, and give up every chance Tech gets coming the other way. I crushed it.
The Huskies fought back hard in the third period, but even after Tech took the lead, the consistent pressure generated by the Spartans kept MSU from at least tying the score, if not winning the game in regulation. It seemed impossible.
Overall, the trip to Grand Rapids was a positive for MSU, but losing one or both games could have hurt the all-important pairwise rankings. MSU coach Adam Nightingale preaches that his players can’t be too high or too low. This is one of the few moments the Spartans have felt they need to keep from getting too low so far this season.
MSU was without Isaac Howard and Tomi Manisto, but freshman forwards Griffin Jurecki and Owen Baker and sophomore Gavin Best played well. Perhaps more impressive was a solid weekend performance from junior Tanner Kelly, who scored in Thursday’s game and put together a change of quality while joining Russell and Dorwart on the top line.
what they said was
About Nightingale, the game as a whole: “It was tough to lose in the tournament, but I really liked us in some parts of the game. The first game was very good and I thought the second game was one of the best times of the year. , I really liked it. “In the third and overtime. I talked about it with the players. The hardest part about our sport is that sometimes you play really well and you don’t get rewarded.”Michigan Tech We’re not going to get anything out of it, but it’s part of growing as a program.”
On Nightingale and Pietila’s play inside the goal: “He was as good as any player we played this year. There were times when they put us in tough positions, but that’s the reality of our sport and that’s what makes this sport special. “We won some games with good goaltending.” “I’ll never apologize for good goaltending either. That’s part of the game. It’s hot in an environment like this. When you look at the goalie, you really have to be patient, but he was really good for them.”
Nightingale on next man up mentality with four players at World Juniors: “I really liked it. Part of our job is to give us depth. You’ll never hear us make excuses for the team, but the players who stepped in I thought everyone really helped us this weekend.”
MSU will host an exhibition with the U.S. National Team Development Program next Saturday at Mann Ice Arena. The Spartans resume Big Ten play next weekend with a home-and-home series against Michigan.
Contact Nathaniel Bott at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on X (formerly Twitter) @Nathaniel_Bott.