DETROIT — Seeking their first Great Lakes Invitational Tournament championship since 1980, tournament host Michigan Tech carried a 2-1 lead into the third period of their Friday night opener against fifth-ranked Michigan State in the 43rd annual edition of the Detroit holiday hockey festival at Joe Louis Arena.
Tyler Shelast and Jimmy Kerr turned the Huskies’ dream into reality in the game’s final minute, both scoring insurance goals to boost the Huskies into the tourney championship for the first time since 2000 with their 4-1 win over the Spartans.
In a first period filled with great scoring chances by both teams, the Huskies drew first blood on a power play at 13:47
With his back to Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg, Shelast tipped home Kerr’s shot from the left point to give Michigan Tech a 1-0 lead.
The Spartans replied less than two minutes later.
At 15:06 Justin Abdelkader’s blast from the top of the left circle found its way onto Tim Kennedy’s stick in from of Michigan Tech netminder Rob Nolan. Kennedy cruised across the front of the net and flipped the puck by Nolan to knot the score at 1-1.
Michigan Tech’s Peter Rouleau notched the middle stanza’s only goal at 8:50 of the period giving the Huskies a lead they would not relinquish.
Malcolm Gwilliam’s centering pass from the corner to Lerg’s left bounced off several skates and found its way onto Rouleau’s stick. The Michigan Tech senior center lifted a shot over Lerg who had gone to his knees early in anticipation of the shot.
Even though Michigan State dominated much of the final half of the period offensively, the Spartans failed to solve Nolan.
Michigan Tech’s victory vaults the Huskies (7-8-2, 5-6-1 WCHA) into their first matchup with the University of Michigan in a GLI final since 1997. Michigan State (12-4-2, 8-2-0 CCHA) will play in Saturday night’s consolation contest against Providence.