DETROIT — The Spartans scored two third-period goals to make this game a close one in the end, but Colorado College (12-8-1) prevailed, 5-4, over Michigan State (7-9-3) in the opening game of the Great Lakes Invitational to advance to Saturday’s title game.
Tiger Tyler Johnson had a goal and two assists as did Spartan Lee Reimer, in a game in which three players, including Reimer, recorded their first career goals. It was also a game that left each head coach unhappy about something.
“From my perspective,” said CC’s Scott Owens, “there were two sides to it. I was pleased with the way we came out. I was pleased with the majority of our game. We were making plays and taking care of the puck a little bit. We scored a couple fortunate goals.
“I thought we were playing a pretty good tournament game, and then [in] the third period [the] combination of them getting a spark with the third goal, we basically held on and we were very fortunate in the end to win the game. I was disappointed in our team in the third, but give Michigan State credit. They continued to battle…and if the game had gone another five minutes, we would have had some real problems.”
The Spartans outshot the Tigers 15-2 in the third, resulting in two goals, Brock Schlgren’s at 6:15 and Daultan Leveille’s with the extra attacker at 19:11. It was the first two periods — and the five goals they gave up — that troubled coach Rick Comley.
“I thought we played fine, for about seven, ten minutes, twelve minutes,” said Comley. “Then we had some defensive breakdowns that led to easy goals.”
In both the first and second periods, the teams exchanged goals in rapid succession. CC freshman Dakota Eveland’s first career goal opened the scoring at 6:36, redirecting Tyler Johnson’s feed from the corner.
Reimer netted his first career goal at 15:04 to tie the game, but Stephen Schultz answered for the Tigers a little over a minute later to make it 2-1, tipping in the rebound from the second save that Spartans goaltender Kyle Palmisano had to make in a flurry of CC shots.
In the second, Andrew Hamburg scored for the Tigers at 4:15 to make it 3-1, a nice tip-in of on Archie Skalbeck’s pass out from behind the net. Midway through the period, the teams combined for three goals: Jeff Collett scored his first career goal at 9:51 to make it 4-1. MSU’s Dustin Gazley scored at 10:27 to cut the lead to 4-2; Johnson’s goal came at 11:10.
The fifth Colorado College goal of the game brought a goaltending change for Michigan State, as Will Yanakeff replaced Palmisano. Comley said that he didn’t have issues with Palmisano’s play so much as with the team playing in front of him.
“It was one on zero,” said Comley. “It wasn’t because of offense. We turned the puck over, we didn’t cover the front of the net. When it’s five-whatever it is, there’s very little you can do other than take your goaltender out of the net.”
Palmisano made 10 saves on 15 shots; Yanakeff stopped all eight shots he faced. For the Tigers, Jon Howe stopped 31-of-35.
Last year, the Spartans outscored opponents 16-2 en route to their 12th GLI championship. Tomorrow, MSU will face the loser of the second semifinal in the third-place game.
The Tigers will face tonight’s winner, and there are several things Owens said CC needs to do for that contest.
“I think we need to address taking care of the puck,” said Owens. “Everyone’s had a chance to play on a little bit smaller ice surface than we’re used to. I think that will help us tomorrow. I think we’ve just got to address turnovers.
“If we play Michigan, they’re unbelievably strong in transition. Tech we know well. Tech’s been in a lot of games, despite their losing streak, until the very end.
“I just think getting the game under our belt here, for so many of these young guys, is going to help us.”