Dec. 29, 2011
Detroit, Mich. - Senior Drew Palmisano made a season-best 45 saves - one off his career best - to backstop Michigan State to a 3-1 victory over Michigan Tech in the semifinals of the 47th annual Great Lakes Invitational. Greg Wolfe and Chris Forfar had MSU's goals in the first two frames, and Brett Perlini iced the victory with an empty-net tally in the waning seconds.
The Spartans advance to the GLI finals for the seventh time in nine seasons, and are in search of their 13th Great Lakes Invitational title overall. MSU improved to 11-6-2 with the win, and now readies for Friday night's Championship game.
"It wasn't the prettiest of wins - but I told our team, `Don't be afraid to win ugly', said head coach Tom Anastos. "All the teams here are coming off of pretty big layoffs, so everyone is looking to shake off some rust.
"Winning this tournament is important to us, and winning tonight put us in a position to compete for that tomorrow," continued Anastos. "One of our team goals is to win the tournament - and it's the first chance that we have to achieve one of our goals this season. We are now going to prepare for two pretty skilled teams [BC and Michigan] - both teams we played earlier this season. We're looking forward to that challenge tomorrow night."
The Spartans got the early lead on a power play goal by sophomore Greg Wolfe. The Spartans went on the man advantage just under five minutes into the game on a holding call against Dennis Nix; Matt Crandell took a shot from just above the left circle, which was saved by goaltender Josh Robinson. The rebound came right onto the stick of Wolfe, who was stationed to the goaltender's right. Wolfe redirected the loose puck past Robinson for his sixth goal of the season.
The Spartans scored at almost exactly the same point of the second period, extending their lead to 2-0 at 5:29 of the frame. Trevor Nill carried the puck into the slot and dished off once he reached the right hash marks to an unmarked Chris Forfar on the left side. Forfar had a wide-open net into which to deposit his third score of the season.
The Spartans gave the Huskies a power-play chance with just over 30 seconds remaining in the second period, giving them a carryover advantage in to the third frame. The Spartans were able to kill that off, but could not overcome overlapping penalties to Brett Perlini and Torey Krug at 5:43 and 6:40, respectively, that put Tech on a 5-on-3. Ryan Furne brought Michigan Tech within a goal with his power-play tally at 7:28, blasting a shot from the hash marks for his sixth goal of the season.
Robinson aptly handled a Spartan flurry in the latter half of the period. MSU had its first shot of the period at the 13 minute mark, then had four dangerous chances around the goal cage in the next three minutes that he turned away. At the other end, the only shot that Palmisano let sneak by him in that same time time frame was that power-play shot earlier in that period, and made his season-best 41st save of the game with just over 3:30 remaining in the game.
The Spartans carried the momentum over that final five minutes, and iced the game with a goal by Perlini with just over 15 seconds remaining.
Michigan State drops the puck on the Championship game at 7:35 p.m. on Friday evening.