Dec. 30, 2012
By Neil Koepke, MSUSpartans.com
DETROIT - For two periods on Sunday afternoon, Michigan State held Michigan to one goal and 20 shots on goal.
The Spartans were 20 minutes away from closing out 2012 with a satisfying, confidence-building victory over its top rival - Michigan - at Joe Louis Arena.
But the positives of the first two periods and a 2-1 lead quickly evaporated as the Wolverines' offense came alive and scored two quick goals in the third period to take a 3-2 lead. U-M went to a 5-2 victory over the Spartans in the consolation game of the 49th Great Lakes Invitational.
Michigan Tech won its first GLI championship since 1980 with a 4-0 win over WMU in the title game.
It was only the third time in the 48 years of the GLI that MSU and U-M have met in the third-place game. The Spartans beat the Wolverines 4-2 in 1968 and the teams played to a 4-4 tie in 1981, Anastos' freshman season at MSU.
On Sunday, poor defensive coverage by the Spartans opened the door for the Wolverines, who scored two goals in 57 seconds early in the period, added another goal seven minutes later to take a 4-2 lead.
MSU (5-11-3 overall, 4-8-1 CCHA) also played in stretches in its 1-1 tie (and 1-0 shootout loss) against No. 7/8 Western Michigan in Saturday's opening GLI semifinal.
Asked what he'll take away from the 2012 GLI, MSU coach Tom Anastos didn't focus on any positives.
"Heartburn. That's what I have,'' Anastos said. "We wanted and expected better results. So, heartburn. It's back to work on New Year's Day.''
In Sunday's matchup of teams with overall records at under .500, the Spartans took a 2-1 lead in the opening period.
Sorenson came behind the net to score on U-M goalie Adam Janecyk and Berry tapped in a rebound to give MSU the lead.
"We did a good job controlling the puck in the offensive zone and getting traffic in front, and creating rebounds,'' MSU senior forward Chris Forfar said. "In the third period, we didn't do a good job of getting to the net or capitalizing on our chances.
"We made some mindless errors in the neutral zone. Michigan is a good transition team and they capitalized.''
The Spartans (5-11-3 overall, 4-8-1-0 CCHA) hurt their own cause by failing to convert on several quality scoring opportunities in the second period. They fired 17 shots on Janecyk.
The Wolverines (7-10-2), 4-7-2-2), who lost to Michigan Tech 4-0 on Saturday in the GLI semifinals, finally woke up offensively in the final 20 minutes.
Freshman Andrew Copp tied the game 2-2 with a wrist shot from the slot, capping an odd-man rush at 1:29 of the third period.
Thirteen seconds later, MSU freshman forward Michael Ferrantino was called for hooking, while trying to prevent a Michigan scoring chance on the edge of the crease.
The Wolverines converted on their power play - at 2:16 - as Kevin Lynch pounced on a rebound in front and flipped the puck over MSU goalie Jake Hildebrand to give his team a 3-2 lead.
Seven minutes later, U-M boosted its lead to two goals on Phil Di Giuseppe goal from the right edge of the crease. Forward Luke Moffatt made a spectacular backhand pass from the left circle through the top of the crease to a wide-open Di Giuseppe.
"It's deflating. We played 40 good minutes of competitive hockey, on both sides (of the ice) and came out flat in the third,'' Forfar said.
"Michigan is a good team and they capitalized on their chances. And just like that, it's 5-2.''
Anastos said turnovers and defensive breakdowns turned the game around for the Wolverines.
"We didn't play for 60 minutes. We played a good first and second periods and then we made a turnover that gave them a 3-on-1 and they capitalized (to tie it),'' Anastos said. "They're a momentum team and that goal gave them life, and set the tone for the period.''
Janecyk faced only seven shots in the third period, finishing with 35 saves for the Wolverines. Hildebrand, who played very well in the first two periods and didn't have much help in the third, made 31 saves. It was the most goals he has allowed (4) in a game this season.
The Spartans' power play failed to score in four chances, while U-M had only one power play and that led to the game-winner by Lynch.
"A combination of two things were critical factors for us,'' Anastos said. "No. 1, we played well in the first two periods but we didn't take advantage of some very good chances, especially in the second period. And going into the third, to allow that kind of transition goal, it was a costly mistake.
"I'd be lying if I said that as I walked off the bench after the second period, that it didn't concern me that we didn't have more to show for it.''
Michigan coach Red Berenson said his team came ready to play and finally got some positive puck luck in the final 20 minutes.
"This game didn't feel like a consolation game. We have too much respect for our rival down the road,'' he said. "It's a big game, bigger than a consolation game. It's not the Stanley Cup but it's a good win for Michigan.''
The Wolverines wrapped up win with a shorthanded goal by Zach Hyman at 18:01 on a bizarre play in which the puck never ended up in the net.
With MSU on a power play in the last three minutes and Hildebrand pulled for a sixth attacker, Hyman chased down a loose puck in the Spartan zone and was looking at the empty net.
In a desperate attempt to nullify the scoring attempt, MSU junior forward and captain Greg Wolfe, chasing Hyman from behind, dived forward and swing his stick in front of Hyman by his skates. His stick came loose and the puck dribbled to the side of the net.
But the referees ruled that Wolfe had thrown his stick at the puck and since there was no goaltender in the net, the NCAA rule states that a goal shall be awarded if the officials believe a goal would have been scored if the stick had not been thrown.
If the goaltender was in the net, a penalty shot would have been assessed.
"The officials determined that Wolfe threw his stick. We felt that as he dove for the puck, his stick got kicked out of his hand,'' Anastos said.
The Spartans return to action with a single game this week - at Ferris State at 5 p.m. on Saturday.