DETROIT — With three unanswered goals in the second period, the Michigan Wolverines captured their second consecutive Great Lakes Invitational title and their 13th overall, beating the Michigan State Spartans 5-1 to capture the MacInnes Cup. It was the first time that UM beat MSU for the championship since 1995.
“I thought that both teams came out and played hard,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “In the first period, it was a really close game and they took the lead on that power-play goal, but I like the way our team battled back.”
Ben Winnett had the game-winning goal at 2:11 to open the second-period scoring, Bryan Hogan stopped 19 shots, and Chris Summers led all Wolverines with three assists.
Michigan State’s only goal for a 1-0 lead came at 12:28 in the first with one second left on a two-man advantage, and was Matt Schepke’s third goal of the tournament.
The first period ended 1-1 after Travis Turnbull scored late in the stanza, but the Wolverines rolled through the second and third periods, limiting the Spartans to five total shots on goal in the final 40 minutes.
“I thought that Michigan played very, very well,” said MSU coach Rick Comley. “Good team, good speed, worked hard. Once they got going, there was just nothing we could do. They played very well.”
Were it not for the play of senior Spartans’ goaltender Jeff Lerg, the score would have been much more lopsided. Lerg made 49 saves in the contest.
“Eventually, I don’t know whether there was a fatigue factor from us having the advantage of playing the afternoon game yesterday,” said Berenson, “but we got the momentum and we got the goals to go with it.
“It’s not often you get one or two goals against Lerg. It was one of those nights when we got the puck behind him and we just built momentum.”
Schepke scored when his power-play shot hit Hogan and went up and over the Michigan goaltender for that brief one-goal lead. Turnbull answered at 16:18 when he threaded a see of Green-and-White, went from his forehand to backhand and shuffled the puck past Lerg for his fifth goal of the season.
In the second, Winnett’s game-winner hit a sprawled Lerg before popping in for the 2-1 lead. At 14:38, Brandon Naurato took Summers’ long feed from the left point to score on the power play from the bottom of the right circle, and at 17:28 Tim Miller scored the prettiest goal of the night, skating the puck around and behind Schepke and scoring from his knees as he fell to the ice.
Louie Caporusso deked Lerg to net his fourth goal of the tournament at 1:16 in the third, bringing the final score to 5-1.
Michigan had 107 total attempted shots to Michigan State’s 46, and most of the Spartans’ efforts were from the outside, something that posed a challenge for Hogan.
“That’s the toughest part, trying to stay into it the whole game,” said Hogan. He added that the Michigan defense, which was struggling early in the season because of injuries to key players, was partially responsible for his one-goal performance tonight.
“They made it so much easier,” said Hogan, “[keeping] shots from out and there were only one or two that got by.”
The defense was bolstered by the return of junior Steve Kampfer. Out since early October with a neck injury, Kampfer’s play this weekend earned him All-Tournament honors. “We were looking forward to getting Steve Kampfer back,” said Berenson. “We sat out Scooter Vaughn, who’s a good defenseman. I think it will make our defense better and stronger and deeper.”
The victory extends Michigan’s win streak against Michigan State to four games, dating to Feb. 23, 2008, and gives the Wolverines a current season four-game win streak, with three of those four wins coming at the expense of the Spartans. Given the up-and-down first half they experienced, the Wolverines are looking to use this title as a springboard for the second half.
“It’s hard to say we’re on a roll right now because we just had three weeks off,” said Summers, “but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for the second half of the season; it’s a step we need. Hopefully in the next two weeks we can work hard in practice and carry it over to the Miami series.”
Michigan hosts Miami Jan. 9-10.
The Spartans, whose 2-1 victory last night over North Dakota was their first win since Halloween (1-9-2) will regroup to play in league action against Alaska-Fairbanks Jan. 2-3.
“I thought we beat a pretty good North Dakota team,” said Comley. “Some teams we match up pretty good with and a couple of teams we don’t. Our young kids just couldn’t handle that speed and strength. I thought we were a lot better team last night than we’ve been for a while. I guess we’ll find out next weekend much more.”