DETROIT – Michigan Tech advanced to the Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game for the fourth time in the last five years with a 2-0 shutout of Michigan on Thursday (Dec. 29). The Huskies will play Western Michigan at 7 p.m. Friday in the last GLI Championship at Joe Louis Arena.
The Huskies have now won four straight and are unbeaten 11 of their last 12 games. They improved to 13-7-3 overall, defeating Michigan for the first time this season in the third meeting.
"It wasn't our best effort, or our best game, but we got a couple goals from some unlikely guys and found a way to get into the championship game," Tech coach Mel Pearson said. "It was some Holiday hockey with both teams looking rusty. We need to play better tomorrow and play with some discipline."
Birks buried his first career goal 5:46 into the game to open scoring. He tipped in a long shot by Mark Auk who recorded his team-leading 10th assist.
"I put it on the net and stayed down low," Birks said. "I tried to get a stick on it and fortunately it went in. It's a lucky one, but I'll take it."
Watson made it 2-0 8:41 into the second with a shot from the sidewall that snuck through UM goaltender Hayden Lavigne. Jake Lucchini assisted on the Captain's sixth career tally.
"Honestly, I was just trying to get something towards the net," said Watson. "I don't think the goaltender saw it at all and it went through his five-hole. Jake is a smart player and I fed off that and got a good bounce."
Joel L'Esperance also scored in the second period on a power play, but it was waved off after he redirected it with a high stick. Mason Blacklock thought he had a goal in the third but review showed it didn't cross the goal line.
Redmond's 23 saves came off seven in the first, three in the second, and 13 in the third. His first shutout came in his first career start against Northern Michigan on October 28. His 1.31 goals against average continues to lead the nation and his .941 save percentage is second.
"It was a good game all around," Redmond said. "When you limit a team to two shots in a period it shows that the team is playing great in front of me and blocking a lot of shots. It feels great to be playing for a championship tomorrow."
The Huskies blocked 20 shots in front of their netminder with Birks and Shane Hanna each having four.
Tech's penalty kill was a perfect 5-for-5. The Huskies killed off three in the first period, including 1:16 of 5-on-3. The Black and Gold has killed off 29 straight penalties, dating back to November 25 at Alaska.
The Huskies will pursue their 11th GLI Championship Friday. Tech last won the championship in 2012 with a 4-0 win over Western Michigan. The two teams also met in the 2013 GLI Championship at Comerica Park.
Friday's 52nd GLI Championship Game can be watched live on Fox Sports Detroit Plus and listened to in the Copper Country on Mix 93.5 FM WKMJ and worldwide on Pasty.com.