DETROIT – Michigan Tech advanced to the 53rd annual Great Lakes Invitational Championship Game with a 5-2 victory over Michigan State Monday (Jan. 1) at Little Caesars Arena. The Huskies came back from a 1-0 deficit to play in the title game for the third straight season.
The Huskies will meet Bowling Green in the GLI Championship game at 6 p.m. on Tuesday (Jan. 2) for the MacInnes Cup. The Falcons defeated Michigan 6-4 in the second semifinal.
"I'm excited about the way we played," Tech coach Joe Shawhan said. "I'm happy with the pushback we had after giving up goals late in each of the first two periods.
"We gave the guys a little longer break before this game, and I'm proud of the way they came back and the conditioning they held over the break."
Tech scored three goals in a span of 3:22 early in the second period to take control. Alex Smith tied it at one 2:04 after the first intermission with his fifth of the season from Brent Baltus and Dane Birks. A shot by Baltus deflected off Smith's skate into the back of the net.
Jake Lucchini gave the home team the lead 75 seconds later with a wrist shot from the top of the circle that went over MSU goaltender John Lethemon for his sixth of the season. Assists went to Alex Gillies and Mitch Reinke.
Gillies scored 2:07 after the second Tech goal to put the Black and Gold up 3-1. He caught a pass out of the corner from Lucchini out front of Lethemon and patiently backhanded in his fourth of the season. Gavin Gould also assisted.
"The first period was kind of tough after the break, but we found our legs," Lucchini said. "Mentally, those first couple goals in the second were huge for our confidence, and we played well from there."
The Spartans cut into the lead with 1:27 left in the second on a goal by Patrick Khodorenko, but the Huskies put it away in the third.
Gould scored his seventh of the season to push it back to a two-goal lead when he capitalized on a steal by Alex Smith 15:06 into the third.
Jake Jackson buried into the open net with 21 seconds left in the third to seal the win. He also extended his point streak to nine games with the unassisted tally.
MSU (8-10-1) opened the game's scoring with 44 seconds left in the first on a power play tally by Zach Osburn.
Tech (10-7-5) outshot MSU 32-31 in the game. Robbie Beydoun made his fourth straight start for the Huskies, making 29 saves. Tech is unbeaten in all four games with a 3-0-1 record.
"He makes the saves with the game on the line," Shawhan said. "He's a severe battler. The guys love to play for him. He's a mature young man and could've got rattled after that first goal."
Lethemon had 27 saves for the Spartans, including a penalty shot by Dylan Steman in the third period after he was hooked on a shorthanded breakaway.
The Huskies are unbeaten in eight of the last nine meetings with State and advanced to the GLI Championship for the third straight time the two teams have met in the semifinals.