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GLI Update: Tech Review and Consolation Preview

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The Spartans blow a third period lead...again against Michigan Tech and will play for 3rd place

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Plagiarism and not writing an original post is bad but after Tuesday's 3-2 overtime loss to Michigan Tech it feels like I could just cut and paste from the two previous losses to the Huskies this season. Once again Michigan State held a third period lead, this time 2-0 on the back of Jake Hildebrand and some timely goals. Once again the Spartans could not hold that lead and once again they lost the game on a goal late in the overtime period. Wash, rinse and repeat.

Michigan State put together a prototypical Tom Anastos era performance in the first two periods Tuesday afternoon. They were outshot but were able to hold Michigan Tech off by blocking shots frequently and relying on Jake Hildebrand when shots did get through. Matt DeBlouw staked the Spartans to a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into the game when a rebound from a JT Stenglein shot ht off DeBlouw's stick and went into the net. The Spartans were under siege the last part of the first period but held on to the lead and tied the Huskies in shots 9-9.

In the second period the Spartans were outshot 13-5, killed multiple penalties including over a minute of 5 on 3 and were still able to extend their lead to 2-0 with a Mackenzie MacEachern power play goal. The power play goal featured one of the few times all period that Michigan State had a consistent attack and they were able to hold the lead due to saves like this from Hildebrand.

The Spartans came out in the third period in a defensive shell, ready to just survive and advance by playing a boring third period. It worked for close to ten minutes until Michigan Tech got on the board with a somewhat controbersial goal. Alex Gilles scored on a rebound chance, and despite him running into Hildebrand to begin the play the goal was not overturned due to goaltender interference.

Yeah, so the Spartans didn't quite do what I said above. They had flashes of trying to play a full game  but still played way too relaxed to close out a game. With less than two minutes to play Rhett Holland lost his stick behind the net, getting it stuck in the zamboni doors, and the Spartans played undisciplined in the confusion following that. They lost any semblance of a defensive system and Jake Lucchini tied the game for the Huskies. Michigan State avoided the no good, terrible shoot out in a TOURNAMENT, (thanks for the shootout to college hockey Anastos as commissioner), by surrendering a goal with one minute remaining in the five minute period. Brent Baltus scored on an absolute snipe of a shot when he was given too much time and space entering the zone and beat Hildebrand over his shoulder.

Looking back at the keys to success

  1. Jake Hildebrand- Hildebrand played his best game of the season and has returned to old form. It's sad to think he may never make an NCAA Tournament, barring a three day run in March for the Spartans this season.
  2. Get a 2nd line going- Didn't happen on the scoring sheet too much, but I did like the play of the 4th line made of JT Stenglein, Matt DeBlouw and Villiam Haag.
  3. Be Boring- Worked for 50 minutes.
Northern Michigan Preview
Time: 3:30 P.M.
TV: Fox Sports Detroit

Now with the loss to the Huskies in the past and with Michigan winning 3-2 last night, the Spartans will face their former CCHA mate the Northern Michigan Wildcats. NMU is 6-7-6 on the season and they have an ability to play close games, as they have gone to overtime 8 times this season. Northern Michigan actually struggles to score more than the Spartans do as they are 43rd in the country scoring 2.37 goals per game. Much like the Spartans Northern Michigan doesn't have one individual player to rely upon for scoring, as four players have at least six goals and the team leader in goals has seven.

That offensive leader is Darren Nowick (7G, 5A) and he is backed up by Dominik Shine (6G, 5A). Shine has really come along as of late with five goals in the past five games, including a hat trick against Alabama Huntsville so he will be someone for the Spartans to keep an eye on. The Spartans should hold an edge in net with Northern relying on freshman goaltender Atte Tolvanen (2.300 GAA, .930 save %) but the Wildcats have utilized strong team defense to boast a top 20 goals against average.

This game has the potential to be a boring, third place game with not a lot of offense either way. The Spartans may decide to give Edwin Minney another start in net, since they will likely ride Hildebrand down the stretch of the B1G season and it is important for Minney to get some net time before next season. This game is one that will be a tough one for coach Tom Anastos to get his team ready to play in a consolation game after an emotional loss on Tuesday. There may not be heat on Anastos from the administration but there definitely is angst among the fan base at a team playing 7 games below .500 so how this team closes the season could be very important for the direction of the program.

Prediction
I think Anastos and captain Michael Ferrantino find a way to get this team to rebound well and earn an ugly 2-1 win over the Wildcats.

Around the B1G
Ohio State fresh off their upset of Boston College took home the Florida College Classic Championship defeating Cornell 8-0. Penn State took 3rd place in the Three Rivers Classic beating Clarkson 5-1. Michigan defeated Northern Michigan 3-2 on a 3rd period goal by freshman sensation Kyle Connor and will play Michigan Tech for the GLI Championship tonight.