DETROIT — Colton Fretter scored the game-winning goal 13:59 into overtime and lifted Michigan State to a 3-2 victory over Michigan Tech in the semifinals of the 41st Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Mich. The Spartans advanced to the title game of the GLI for the third straight year and the ninth time in the last ten years.
The Spartans blistered out of the gate, outshooting Michigan Tech 24-6 in the opening period. Michigan State needed all 24 of its first-period shots to beat Husky goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak as Tim Crowder notched his seventh goal of the season on MSU’s last shot of the period.
Midway through the second period Corey Potter was whistled for his second checking-from-behind major and game misconduct in his last three games. The penalty put the Spartans at a two-man disadvantage for 1:33. Michigan State killed off the five-on-three advantage, but surrendered a power-play goal at 14:50 of the second period when Tyler Shelast redirected a Lars Helminen shot past Spartan goaltender Dominic Vicari.
Michigan Tech nearly added a second goal during the major penalty but Vicari stopped husky Chris Connor from point-blank range at the top of the crease; Connor collected his own rebound and snapped a second shot off the post.
The Spartans went down 2-1 on Shelast’s second goal of the evening with 2:41 remaining on the clock in the period. Shelast got the puck off of the half-boards and skated to the slot where he fired a wrist shot over Vicari’s right shoulder.
The Spartans had the last quality scoring chance of the second period when Chris Mueller outfought a Husky defenseman in the corner and got a shot from the left faceoff dot. Teslak stopped Mueller’s shot, then another shot when Abdelkader tried to bang home the rebound.
Teslak made another great stop at the 9:20 mark of the third period when he flashed the left pad and smothered a shot by sophomore Jim McKenzie.
Abdelkader pulled the Spartans even at 10:04 of the final period when his wrist shot found its way through a screen and under the arm of Teslak. The goal was Abdelkader’s fifth of the season, while Drew Miller and Fretter assisted on the play.
Michigan State outshot the Huskies 48-28 through regulation, but the game remained tied at two goals each and the game advanced to sudden-death overtime.
Michigan Tech nearly scored early in overtime when Chris Conner lead a two-on-one break with freshman Derek Kitti, but Kitti’s shot sailed just wide past an open left half of the net. The Spartans answered with a chance of their own when Fretter one-timed a Tyler Howells feed, but Teslak answered the call for MTU with a terrific left-pad save.
In a game that featured spectacular goaltending on both ends of the ice, sophomore forward Chris Mueller made the defensive play of the night. Mueller dove over a fallen Vicari and swatted a loose puck off the Michigan State goal line to preserve the 2-2 tie, setting the stage for Fretter’s heroics.
Fretter’s game-winner was the product of hard work below the goal line by his linemates. Mueller and Miller kept the puck alive in the corner and threw the puck to the front of the net. A Spartan shot drifted just wide, but Fretter collect the puck behind the net, walked out in front, and put a backhand shot right under the crossbar as Teslak could not recover from going down on the ice.
Michigan State plays the winner of the Michigan/Colorado College semifinal in the championship game tomorrow. The puck drops at 8:05 p.m. from Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.