DETROIT — Instant classic.
That’s probably the best way to describe Michigan State’s thrilling 3-2 overtime victory over Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational championship game on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena.
Senior right wing John Nail scored unassisted at 19:04 of overtime to give the Spartans their fourth consecutive GLI crown.
“I saw the puck in the defenseman’s feet, went for it, and chipped it ahead,” said Nail. “Then I made the only move that I could think of at the time.”
“Nobody knew how good they were,” said MSU head coach Ron Mason of Michigan Tech. “They made us play their game. It made for a heckuva college hockey game. That’s why college hockey is so exciting.”
Damon Whitten and Andrew Hutchinson scored power-play goals for No. 1 MSU (14-1-4). Tournament MVP Ryan Miller made 42 saves for the Spartans, who are now 11-0 in overtime games at Joe Louis Arena.
The upstart Huskies, who blasted Michigan 7-3 in the semifinals on Friday, rallied from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to force the extra session.
“They [Tech] fought back from two goals down, and that says a lot about their character,” continued Mason.
Justin Brown and Jeff Keiver scored for Tech (4-14-1), which was making its first appearance in the GLI title game since 1991.
The Huskies appeared to score in the opening minute of the game, but the goal was waived off because Keiver directed the puck into the net with his fist.
Tech goaltender Brian Rogers made the save of the period, stopping a rocket from the left circle by Rustyn Dolyny.
The Spartans struck first when Whitten redirected a shot from the point by Brad Fast. Sean Patchell also assisted on the power-play goal at 18:41.
With 3.9 seconds left in the second period and the Huskies’ Mat Snesrud serving a holding penalty, Hutchinson picked up a rebound and fired it over a sprawled out Rogers for his second goal of the season and second in as many nights.
“Luck,” said Hutchinson of his goal. “I shot through a crowd and closed my eyes.”
Michigan Tech, which outshot State 44-28 including 14-1 in the third period, refused to give up though.
The Huskies got back into the game when Brown shot a loose puck through a mess of players and past Miller for a power-play goal at 9:46 of the third. Tab Lardner and Brad Patterson were credited with assists on the play.
Following the goal, Tech picked up its intensity and threatened several more times.
Just after State’s John-Michael Liles had left the penalty box, Keiver was credited with a goal when the puck bounced off his skate and past Miller. The goal was reviewed but allowed to stand, eventually forcing overtime.
“The third period felt like overtime,” said Miller. “We were fortunate tonight and we got a nice goal from John Nail.”
Joining Miller on the all-tournament team were teammates Rustyn Dolyny, Andrew Hutchinson, and Damon Whitten; Michigan Tech’s Mat Snesrud; and Boston College’s Krys Kolanos.