Friday, December 30, 2011

Spartans fall to U-M in GLI final

They were 50 seconds away, now they're 365 days away.

The MSU hockey team lost a lead with 50 seconds to go and lost the game in overtime as Michigan took home its 15th Great Lakes Invitational Championship and its second straight.

The Wolverines tied the game with a powerplay goal on a very questionable penalty call, but U-M had dominated the period, so the Spartans can hardly say they were robbed. 

The game was scoreless after one period, and Taylor Sorenson gave MSU the 1-0 lead in the second on a simple shot from the top of the circle that seemed to surprise U-M goalie Shawn Hunwick. It was his first collegiate goal.

The Wolverines tied the game midway though the third when Derek DuBlois knocked home a rebound. Two and a half minutes later, Brett Perlini buried a beautiful turnaround pass from Kevin Walrod to give MSU a 2-1 lead. But that was just one of three shots MSU had in the period. 

With just over two minutes to play, Brent Darnell was called for tripping in front of the U-M goal when it appeared he and a Wolverine had made incidental contact. Michigan went to the powerplay, pulled the goalie with a minute left and tied it up a minute later when Kevin Lynch was left uncovered in front and tipped in a pass from behind the net.

As I mentioned above, the Spartans couldn't exactly feel robbed, as U-M outshot MSU, 24-3 in the period with plenty of chances. But outside of the third period, the teams were basically even in play.

Overtime started with a flurry of chances for both teams, but when MSU failed to clear the puck several times — a problem they had all game — U-M made them pay. A U-M defenseman (didn't see a replay so I don't remember who) faked a shot and moved around a diving Spartan. The puck moved low and was passed across to a wide-open Kevin Clare for the winner. It was the backdoor play U-M uses so often on the powerplay.

Outside of the third period, the Wolverines outshot MSU 24-22. For the game, the shots were 48-25, giving Palmisano 45 saves for the night and a GLI-record 90 over the two games. He's been cementing himself as the No. 1 guy for MSU. 

Up next for MSU are six straight home games, beginning with Miami (Ohio) on Jan. 6. There's definitely plenty for MSU to work on until then, but heading into 2012, the program is doing much better than predicted under new coach Tom Anastos.

Perlini, Torey Krug and Palmisano were named to the All-Tournament Team. 

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