DETROIT — At the end of one it was over. At the end of two it was anybody’s game.
Two minutes into the third it was official: Michigan State was on its way to the Great Lakes Invitational championship and Michigan Tech was heading for the consolation game, as the Spartans downed the Huskies 7-2.
The Huskies, playing in their 39th consecutive GLI, have hosted the tournament annually since its inception in 1965. The matchup with Michigan State was the 23rd such meeting under the GLI banner with the Spartans holding a 19-4 series lead.
Despite the lopsidedness of that record and the final score, the clubs managed to keep it interesting.
“For a while it looked like we might win by six or seven, then it looked like we might lose by six or seven,” said MSU head coach Rick Comley.
Down three heading into the second period, it seemed the Huskies were ready to roll over, but they played a strong 20 minutes of hockey.
“We had a great second period, but it takes three periods to win,” said MTU head coach Jamie Russell. “We weren’t very good in the first, and we weren’t very good in the third.
“We need to play 60 minutes of hockey instead of 20.”
While the Huskies did not put in a similar effort in the first and third periods, they did manage to recover from a dismal opening period in which they gave up three goals on six shots in a span of 10 minutes.
However, hopes of a Husky comeback were dashed in the opening minutes of the third, when A.J. Thelen put the Spartans up two just 23 seconds in with a power-play goal.
Chris Snavely scored a minute and a half later, prompting Russell to pull starting goalie Bryce Luker in favor of Rick Cazares.
The change in net did not prompt a change in fortunes for Michigan Tech as the Spartans put two more goals on the board before the night was out.
Matt Migliaccio made 27 saves for the Spartans in place of starter Dominic Vicari, at the World Junior Championships. Corey Potter and David Booth were also absent from the Spartan lineup as a result of the WJC.
With the loss, the GLI championship drought for the Huskies stands at 23 years. Meanwhile, the Spartan victory gives MSU the opportunity to play for its 10th GLI title, but its first since 2000.
Michigan State will face second-ranked Boston College in the title game Sunday afternoon, marking the third consecutive year that a team from outside the state of Michigan has played in the championship.
The consolation doesn’t look any easier for the Huskies as they prepare to take on eighth-ranked Michigan at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.