The 47th edition of the Great Lakes Invitational ended in dramatic fashion. The Wolverines battled back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits against the Michigan State Spartans, scoring a goal in the final minute of regulation before winning it in overtime.
I only got to see the third period and overtime. The Spartans outshot Michigan 11-7 in the first period, but outside of a few checks it didn't sound like anything was overly noteworthy. The Wolverines had a great chance on a two-on-one with Wohlberg and Brown. Wohlberg got the pass across, but Palmisano made a great stop on Chris Brown.
In the second period, it was the Wolverines outshooting the Spartans by the same 11-7 margin, but the Spartans got on the board first. Tanner Sorenson beat Hunwick over the glove. Based on Hunwick's reaction, it looked like it probably tipped off the defenseman on the way in.
The third period was not too dissimilar (except in reverse) from the
second period of the BC game the day before. The Wolverines outshot the
Spartans 24-3 in the third period, but Michigan State managed to get a goal out of it.
The game would remain 1-0 until just past the halfway point of the third period when Derek DeBlois broke the shutout. Palmisano left a rebound on a Kevin Lynch shot and DeBlois muscled it into the net. It was one of those plays where the puck is sitting there, the net is open, and it seemingly takes FOREVER for the player to put it in. He did, though, and the game was tied....
....briefly. Just 2 1/2 minutes later, Walrod brought the puck into the Michigan end and dropped a pass toward the net for Brett Perlini. Hunwick looked to be slightly off his angle and Perlini put a shot pass him on the short side.
The Wolverines continued to pepper Drew Palmisano with shots and finally got the break they needed with just over two minutes left in regulation when Brent Darnell was called for tripping. After a lot of possession and several shots on goal--Palmisano made one very nice shoulder save--Luke Moffatt got to a loose puck in the corner and centered it. Kevin Lynch tipped it past Palmisano to tie the game back up with 50 seconds left in regulation.
In overtime, both teams had their chances. Shawn Hunwick made a pair of fantastic saves to keep the Wolverines in the game in the middle section of the period. That was after he stopped Wolfe on a breakaway 20 seconds into the extra session. Just past the halfway point of the first overtime, Moffie got the puck by the left point. A Spartan aggressively charged the point and slid to block what he assumed would be a Moffie shot. Moffie moved to his left and eluded the Spartan. He walked in on goal and the Red Sea kind of parted. He had a lot of traffic in front of the net and would've had a great look had he decided to shoot. Somehow, he spotted a streaking Kevin Clare (just off the bench after Mike Chiasson went for a change). He slid the puck over to Clare and the defenseman had nothing but the back of the net to shoot at. He hit it, and Michigan had their second GLI Championship in a row and the fourth in the past five years!
Treais, Wohlberg and Clare were named to the All Tournament Team. Clare was named the MVP. It was kind of fitting that he'd be the guy to score the game-winner as he was as good defensively this weekend as he has been at any point in his Michigan career.
PDG, Pateryn, Moffatt, and Treais all had 5+ shots on goal in the game, as Michigan outshot FYS by a 48-25 margin. Pateryn also had 4 blocked shots in the game. Moffatt had a pair of assists and was a noticeable threat offensively the entire weekend.
So Michigan comes away with another GLI Championship and they also come away with two huge wins for their PWR ranking. Boston College and FYS were both ranked in the top 6 of the PWR and will more than likely remain TUCs all year. Michigan slid up to 13th in the PWR. They've since slid back to a tie for 15th, but I've got to believe the position is better than it was a week ago. They're 11th in RPI.
The Wolverines are 4-0-1 in their last five games and they're picking a good time to turn things around. The next six series on the docket are against LSSU (at Yost), at OSU (including the Frozen Diamond Faceoff, which I'll be attending!), at Notre Dame, Miami (at Yost), a road-and-Joe series against the Spartans, and at home against NMU. Those are the #13, #1, #4, #21, #10, and #9 teams in the PWR, respectively. And the worst team of the bunch is the one that has given Michigan a ton of trouble in recent years.
It's a tough stretch, but also a huge opportunity for Michigan to solidify their NCAA Tournament chances and home ice in the first round of the CCHA Tournament. They're 8 points out of a bye in round one which would be tough to make up, but they're just one point out of home ice in the first round of CCHAs. With the way they are playing right now and (hopefully) with their best player coming off suspension at some point in the near future, things are definitely looking up.