DETROIT — There won’t be any Cinderella run for Michigan Tech this time in the Great Lakes Invitational.
The Huskies jumped out to a surprising 1-0 lead, despite being outshot 15-4 in the first period. But that was the only offense they would muster against goaltender Ryan Miller and the Michigan State Spartans, who cruised to a 4-1 victory.
Michigan State (13-3-2) will take on North Dakota Saturday night at 7:35 p.m. in its quest for a fifth straight GLI crown. MSU earned a rematch of last year’s Frozen Four semifinal game, when the Fighting Sioux shut out the Spartans, 2-0.
“I guess it’s been kind of a stage for a revenge game,” Miller said.
There was no such revenge on Friday for the Huskies, who outplayed a heavily favored Michigan State team a year ago in the GLI championship game, roaring back from a 2-0 deficit to force overtime. The Spartans still won 3-2.
This time, Michigan’s State aggressive forechecking and its offensive-minded defensemen constantly applied pressure on Tech’s freshman netminder Cam Ellsworth — not giving the Huskies much room to breathe.
John-Michael Liles’ goal illustrated the Spartans’ defensemen’s knack for jumping into the play. Liles pinched into the zone while his teammates forechecked and tapped in fellow defenseman Andrew Hutchinson’s rebound, tying the game at 1-1. Liles also added an assist and now has 13 points in 18 games this season, as does Hutchinson.
“Their skill on defense was the difference in the game,” said Michigan Tech coach Mike Sertich. “(Freshman) Duncan Keith is as skilled a defenseman I’ve seen come into college hockey in a long time.”
The usually defense-oriented Spartans exploded at the offensive end, outshooting Michigan Tech, 44-23.
The Huskies held a one-goal edge until the middle of the second period, when Michigan State scored three goals in a span of 10 minutes.
“If you’re going to let them score, it’s better if they score early,” Michigan State coach Ron Mason said.
Michigan Tech’s Paul Cabana was the only one to beat Miller, as his tally just over four minutes into the game energized the crowd and gave the Huskies hope for an upset.
But Cabana said the turning point was the two ensuing breakaway chances that the Huskies had, both turned away by Miller, which gave rise to the Spartans’ onslaught.
“Our guys play more of a creative style now,” Miller said. “And my job is to make up for their mistakes.”
Freshman center Ash Goldie scored the Spartans’ second goal and assisted on linemate Adam Hall’s tally late in the third period — which put the nail in Michigan Tech’s coffin.
Joe Smith is a sports editor for The Michigan Daily and can be reached at email@example.com.