DETROIT — Providence stormed back from an early third period one-goal deficit with four goals to knock off No. 5 Michigan State, 5-3, in the consolation game of the 43rd annual Great Lakes Invitational Tournament at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Saturday evening.
Jon Rheault and Kyle MacKinnon each had two goals for the Friars in the seesaw contest.
Tyler Sims turned aside 27 Spartan shots to preserve the win for Providence. Michigan State’s Jeff Lerg blocked 40 Friar forays as Providence continued their season pattern of establishing high shot totals on opposing netminders. The Friars threw 50 shots at Michigan in the tournament’s opening round on Friday night.
After Michigan State had grabbed the early third period advantage at 1:11 on Nick Sucharski’s tip-in of a Mike Ratchuk shot, the Friars kicked off their offensive barrage.
At 7:49, Friar defenseman Matt Taormina fired a shot from the left side boards that bounced off Lerg’s glove onto the backhand of John Cavanaugh, who fired it in to knot the score at 2-2.
Two minutes later, Rheault streaked down the right wing and centered a pass to Greg Collins in the slot. The rebound from Collins’ shot bounced to Lerg’s left. Having circled behind the net, Rheault was in position to slap home the go-ahead tally for a 3-2 Friars’ edge.
With the Spartans pressing offensively, Providence took advantage of a nifty two-on-one passing play between MacKinnon and Pierce Norton. MacKinnon beat Lerg at 15:54 on a return pass from Norton to increase the Friars’ lead to 4-2.
The Spartans weren’t finished however.
Ratchuk’s diving stab of a bouncing pass beat Sims with less than a minute left, giving Michigan State late hope.MacKinnon extinguished that hope with an empty net tally at 19:51 to seal the Friars’ victory.
After 18 minutes of even hockey in the first period, the Spartans struck first.
Justin Johnston’s shot from the left point missed the Providence net wide on the left side. The rebound off the end boards slightly grazed Chris Mueller’s stick and went straight to Dustin Gazley, who got just enough of the puck to send it fluttering over Sims at 19:04.
The Friars found their skating legs in the second period, finally connecting at 13:18 on one of 16 shots they pumped at Lerg in the period.
Spartans’ defenseman Jeff Dunne’s unsuccessful pinch attempt at his offensive blue line sent forwards MacKinnon and Rheault down ice two-on-one. MacKinnon’s shot off Lerg landed in the crease, where Rheault was easily able to fire it home to even the game 1-1 after two periods.
The Spartans (12-5-2, 8-2-0 CCHA) travel home to the friendly confines of Munn Arena next weekend for a two-game set with Lake Superior State, while Providence (7-7-2, 4-3-2 Hockey East) gets a weekend off before hitting the ice on January 11/12 with a home-and-home pair of games with Mass.-Lowell.