Freshman defenseman David Gucciardi stole the show as the Michigan State Spartans split this year’s 2021 Great Lakes Invitational.
Moved from a tournament format to a showcase, the Great Lakes Invitational was set to feature four games: Michigan State vs. No. 4/4 Western Michigan and No. 3/3 Michigan vs. No. 18/- Michigan Tech on Dec. 29, and a flipped schedule on Dec. 30. Michigan ended up canceling a game against Western Michigan due to health and welfare protocols within the program.
The rest of the GLI played on, and the Spartans split both games this week, taking a 3-1 loss in the opener against Western Michigan on Wednesday, and winning 3-2 in overtime against Michigan Tech on Thursday.
The Broncos were off to a 2-0 lead as goals by Max Sasson and Chad Hillebrand kickstarted the offense. Michigan State had an early chance to take advantage on a penalty shot following a tripping call on Western Michigan’s Ethen Frank.
Freshman David Gucciardi scored MSU’s lone goal, on the power play, to get within one, but the Spartans were unable to convert scoring chances into goals, surrendering an empty net goal late, and ending in a 3-1 loss.
To rebound, the Spartans played well against Michigan Tech. The game brought a big crowd along as “Go Green, Go White” and “Let’s Go Huskies” chants filled Munn Ice Arena, often simultaneously.
Once again, Gucciardi opened the scoring — on the power play — and with the same feed: Jesse Tucker to Griffin Loughran to Gucciardi. The 1-0 lead would not last very long, though, as Michigan Tech’s Brian Halonen put the puck past senior goaltender Drew DeRidder to tie the game.
Here's a look at Michigan State's first goal of the night from David Gucciardi.— The Only Colors (@TheOnlyColors) December 30, 2021
Same feed as last night: Tucker, Loughran, Gucciardi nails it home. 1-0 MSU leads Michigan Tech.
: @Nathaniel_Bott pic.twitter.com/UhtXH5Zodm
Josh Nodler, set up by Loughran and Cole Krygier, put MSU back on top in the second period. However, a deflection by Nick Nardella on a wrist-shot by Alec Broetzman tied the game up once again.
Perhaps Drew DeRidder held MSU together in this game, as he was incredible, stopping 43 of the 45 shots he faced. Junior forward Jagger Joshua broke up a Michigan Tech power-play attack that seemed to have taken all pressure off of Michigan State’s defense.
In overtime, it was all Gucciardi. Tucker slid the freshman a pass, who moved the puck between his legs and fired it into the top shelf to give MSU the overtime victory.
Closer look at the OT winner from Michigan State hockey earlier today. David Gucciardi had 75% of MSU's offense this week. pic.twitter.com/7SHsRcbHBm— Brad LaPlante (@bradlaplante) December 31, 2021
It was just a footnote in a day that featured a women’s basketball upset victory over undefeated Nebraska, as well as a Peach Bowl comeback victory versus Pittsburgh. It was Michigan State’s best defensive game of the year, featuring a whole-team effort and a really solid win.
Michigan State will enter 2022 at 11-8-1, 15 points, and fifth in the Big Ten, behind Notre Dame (16 points), Ohio State (18), Minnesota (19), and Michigan (23). The Spartans will take on No. 11/11 Minnesota next on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8. Both games will be at Munn Ice Arena and air on Big Ten Network.