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Neil's Notebook: GLI Brings About Fantastic Play, Heartbreak

Drew Palmisano will graduate with the GLI record for saves

Jan. 1, 2012


By Neil Koepke, staff writer

DETROIT - Great game, great crowd, great atmosphere. Bad ending.

Not only bad for Michigan State, but also heartbreaking.

Any loss to your archrival stings a lot. This one was like a hard kick in the gut. With a skate.

Michigan State was 50 seconds away from its greatest victory thus far this season - over Michigan -- and a coveted Great Lake Lakes Invitational championship.

Instead, the Spartans saw their 2-1 lead disappear with 50 seconds left in the third period and their hopes for a victory slip away in overtime. The Wolverines converted on a nifty passing play at 11:44 of OT to claim a come-from-behind 3-2 victory and GLI title on Friday night in front of a raucous crowd of 17,242 at Joe Louis Arena.

The Spartans did a lot of good things in the thrilling tournament final - they worked hard, competed well, created good scoring chances, got another super goaltending performance from Drew Palmisano and a clutch goal by senior Brett Perlini late in the third period.

But it wasn't enough.

MSU took a untimely penalty with 2:18 to go in regulation time and it opened the door for the Wolverines. Suddenly, the puck was bouncing the Wolverines' way and they took advantage, scoring a 6-on-4 manpower edge and surviving several quality scoring chances by MSU in OT, before sophomore defenseman Kevin Clare scored the winner.

"Every loss. . . . I just hate to lose, but when you lose to these guys, it stings even more,'' MSU junior defenseman and captain Torey Krug said. "We had them down to the last 50 seconds and they were able to pop one. They're a good team. They're the best transition team in the country.

"A loss like this makes you sick to your stomach. But you have to learn from it.''

Palmisano, who made 45 saves for the second straight night, was selected to the GLI All-Tournament Team. He'd gladly give it back to skate off with the MacInnes Cup as GLI champion.



"On the tying goal, they made a good pass out of the corner and (Kevin) Lynch made a good deflection to the far side,'' Palmisano said. "In overtime, their defenseman (Lee Moffie) came down the wall (on the left) and there was a screen. I couldn't see what was happened, but he made a great pass to the guy streaking to the back door and (Clare) buried it in the open net.''

Palmisano's 90 saves over two games is a GLI record, topping the old mark of 89 set by Colgate's Geoff McMullen in 1969.

The Spartans (11-7-2), who never trailed until the final shot, had given up just one goal in the first 110 minutes of their two GLI games. They allowed one - on a 5-on-3 power play -- to Michigan Tech in a 3-1 semifinal win on Thursday, and were up 1-0 on Michigan with 10 minutes left in the third period on Friday.

"It was a heck of a hockey game. Guys from both teams competed hard for space, and we certainly had our opportunities to win the game but we didn't,'' MSU coach Tom Anastos said. "We're obviously disappointed in the result but proud of the effort by our team. You feel bad because we wanted to win for the seniors.

"This will be an experience we'll have to learn from and build on.''

After being shut out for 50 minutes, the Wolverines (11-8-3) finally capitalized as right wing Derek DeBlois flipped in a rebound from the edge of the crease at 10:10 of the third period.

But the Spartans rebounded quickly and shocked the maize and blue when Brett Perlini finished off a nice passing play with Kevin Walrod on a 2-on-2 rush by firing the puck past goalie Shawn Hunwick from the left circle at 12:31 for a 2-1 lead.

The Spartans suddenly had great energy and played well in possessing the puck and defending in their own zone over the next six minutes.

But a tripping penalty in the offensive zone after a 2-on-1 break on freshman right wing Brett Darnell with 2:18 left gave the Wolverines some hope. With 1:00 left, Hunwick was lifted for an extra attacker giving U-M a 6-on-4 edge.

After a faceoff won by the Wolveirnes in the circle to Palmisano's right, the puck ended up in the left corner and forward Luke Moffatt fired it out front, where it deflected off Lynch's stick and slid into the far right corner at 19:50.

"I thought we'd kill it. You have to have that mindset. We were confident because we've faced situations like that all year,'' Krug said. "This was a bigger stage, for a trophy. Unfortunately, we didn't come out on the right end.''

In overtime, defensmean Lee Moffie stickhandled down the left boards and waited until he spotted an onrushing Claire slipping in into the right circle. He slid the puck across and Clare easily hit the open net to give U-M its second consecutive GLI championship.

"We had plenty of chances to score in overtime,'' Anastos said. "(Greg) Wolfe came in on a break and they caught us on the side. Sometimes, the puck bounces to the right spot and sometimes it doesn't. Unfortunately, we didn't get that bounce.''

Darnell also had a good opportunity from the slot to end the game but Hunwick made a clutch save. He made four saves in the OT and 23 overall.

"Palmisano played great and the game could have gone the other way,'' Michigan junior center A.J. Treais said. "The chances for each team were probably equal. We stuck with it and gutted it out.

"But things could have gone the other way (down the ice) on the play with Clare, but he got the puck and put it in.''

"It was an exciting game. You had to enjoy this type of game no matter who you were cheering for,'' Wolverines coach Red Berenson said. "It was a one-goal game for most of the game and each team had great scoring chances in overtime.''

PALMISANO SHINES: Drew Palmisano has been outstanding in his last three starts - a 3-3 tie and shootout win vs. Michigan on Dec. 10, a 3-1 victory over Michigan Tech in Thursday's semifinal and in Friday's 3-2 overtime defeat.

"He was excellent,'' Anastos said. "We thought he would be. He came back to campus (after the holiday break) really focused, and our guys are playing with confidence in front of him. He made some big saves, some timely ones and we need that to have a chance to win.''

For the second straight night, Anastos thought the opponent's shot totals were inflated. It seemed like every time Palmisano jumped on a loose puck and froze it for a faceoff, it was counted as a save.

"I was surprised by the shot count (in the third period),'' Anastos said of the 24-3 edge for U-M.

Palmisano agreed.

"Just like on Thursday (vs. Michigan Tech), a lot of the shots were from the perimeter. I didn't think they had a lot of second and third opportunities,'' he said. "I don't know how accurate the shot clock was.''

FIRST FOR SORENSON: Freshman right wing Tanner Sorenson scored his first collegiate goal at 13:19 of the second period, giving MSU a 1-0 lead in his first game vs. U-M.

Daultan Leveille won a faceoff just outside the U-M blue line, got the puck to Torey Krug on the left near the red ling. Krug sent a perfect cross-ice pass to Sorenson at the blue line. The rookie from Anchorage, Alaska, took a few str ides into the U-M zone and let fly with a hard shot that caught the top left corner.

U-M coach Red Berenson said the puck hit a defenseman's stick, changed directions and zipped past Hunwick.

Sorenson, who has been a healthy scratch the last five games, was in the lineup due to the loss of senior left wing Mike Merrifield, who's out for at least another week with a separated shoulder, suffered against U-M on Dec. 10. Sorenson has one goal and three assists in 14 games.

ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM: The Spartans had three players on the GLI All-Tournament team - forward Brett Perlini, defenseman Torey Krug and goalie Drew Palmisano.

Michigan also had three selected -- defenseman Kevin Clare and forwards David Wohlberg and A.J. Treais.

THIRD PLACE WINNER: Boston College, coming off an uneven, turnover-filled 3-2 loss to Michigan in Thursday's second semifinal, won the third-place game with a 2-1 victory over Michigan Tech. The No. 3 Eagles broke a 1-1 tie on defenseman Brian Dumoulin's goal from a wide angle with 10:40 left in the third period.

Tech thought it had tied the game with 29 seconds left when Blake Pietila scored on a rebound after shot from the point. But the goal was waived off after a video review because the puck hit the stick of Tech's Jordan Baker while it was at a level above the crossbar, before deflecting out front to Pietila.

NEXT YEAR: There will be two teams with the same nickname -- Huskies -- in next year's GLI. The at-large team in 2012 is St. Cloud State, now of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association and soon to be joining the new National Collegiate Hockey Conference in 2013-2014.

The St. Cloud State Huskies will face the Spartans while the Michigan Tech Huskies will play Michigan in the other GLI semifinal. It'll be St. Cloud's first appearance in the tournament, which started in 1965.

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