DETROIT – The Michigan State hockey team fell to Michigan Tech, 4-2, in the opening game of the 55th Great Lakes Invitational on Monday afternoon at Little Caesars Arena. Eric Gotz’s goal with 4:46 to play broke a 2-2 tie to give MTU the win.
The No. 18 Spartans (9-9-1) will play either Michigan or Ferris State on Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. at the GLI third-place game.
MSU carried a 2-1 lead into the third period, but a shorthanded goal by Tommy Parrottino 1:14 into the frame tied the game for the Huskies. The Spartans outshot the Huskies 13-8 in the final period, but it was Gotz’s goal in the closing minutes that turned out to be the winner.
“Our job now as coaches is to get the guys ready for tomorrow,” MSU head coach Danton Cole said. “We can do some things better (tomorrow) and we will. There was some alright stuff today for being off that long. I thought we got better as the game went on and I didn’t think the third was our worst period, but they had the chances and buried them.”
Sam Saliba gave the Spartans an early 1-0 lead when he scored on the power play 2:21 into the first period. Tommy Miller kept the puck in at the right point and got it to Josh Nodler in the right circle. Nodler waited and patiently and found a wide-open Saliba low in the left circle, who one-timed the puck past goaltender Matt Jurusik for his fifth goal of the season.
Michigan Tech (11-8-1) had a trio of power plays in the opening period and was able to tie the game with 1:45 to go when Trenton Bliss pushed a loose puck past John Lethemon.
Like the first period, the Spartans struck early again to start the second. A turnover in the neutral zone, forced with the help of Jagger Joshua, allowed Cole Krygier to get control of the puck near the red line along the boards. Krygier quickly flipped it up ice where Lambdin picked it up near the MTU blue line and went in all alone, deked Jurusik and then slid the puck past him.
Leading 2-1, the Spartans went to the power play less than minute into the third period. But instead of the Spartans adding to their lead, the Huskies scored shorthanded to tie it up as Parrottino’s shot off the rush from the left side at the 1:04 mark beat Lethemon and made it 2-2.
The Huskies went to the power play for the only time in the third period with 6:40 to play. The Spartans controlled the puck for much of the power play, never allowing the Huskies to set up until the closing minutes of the man-advantage. With the penalty expiring, Gotz got the puck low around the left circle, skated toward the slot and beat Lethemon with a snap shot to make it 3-2, four seconds after the conclusion of the power play.
The Spartans had their highest shot total (13) of any period in the third and had several chances, including a redirect by Lewandowski from the goal line with under two minutes to go, that just missed the net.
Alex Smith sealed the MTU win with an empty net goal with seven seconds to play.
Both teams went 1-for-5 on the power play.
Michigan Tech finished with a 33-29 edge in shots on goal.