DETROIT — In a third period laden with physical play and penalties, the Michigan hockey team (1-3-0 Big Ten, 7-9-1 overall) finalized a 2-0 loss in the first game of the 52nd annual Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena on Thursday night. The loss came at the hands of Michigan Tech, (11-3-2 Western Collegiate Hockey Association, 13-7-3 overall) which will advance to the title game Friday.
The game also served as a debut for sophomore forward Cooper Marody, who had been academically ineligible earlier in the season. He was positioned at center on the first line and paired with junior Cuter Martin and senior Alex Kile, both of whom have had success scoring goals this season. Despite the strong and experienced first line, though, the first period of the game consisted mostly of back and forth between the two teams.
The scales finally tipped in favor of the Huskies at the 5:46 mark of the first period, when defenseman Mark Auk sent the puck towards the net. Fellow defenseman Dane Birks tipped it in to give Michigan Tech the first goal of the night and a 1-0 lead.
Later in the period, the Wolverines were offered a golden opportunity to respond when two of the Huskies’ players were penalized, resulting in 5-on-3 play for a short amount of time. However, the closest Michigan came to a goal was when freshman defenseman Luke Martin managed a shot while situated in front of the net, but it went wide.
“In our first 5-on-3, our number one unit was tired, so our number two unit was out there the first minute,” said Michigan coach Red Berenson. “And then our first unit got out there and I thought we had a couple of shots, (Kile) had one and (Marody) might have had one, but not good enough.”
The second period featured a more aggressive performance in favor of Michigan Tech, as it outshot the Wolverines, 19-3. The Huskies almost scored their second goal of the night when a shot was tipped off a stick and into the net, but the goal was waved off for high sticking.
Michigan Tech didn’t let up, though, and its second goal came at the 11:19 mark in the second period. Forward Jake Lucchini bounced the puck off the boards to defenseman Cliff Watson, who was near the left side of Michigan’s net, and he finished it off to push the Huskies’ lead to two.
Early in the third period — as Michigan Tech attempted to put the game to bed — it ended up giving Michigan a power play instead, when one of the Huskies ran into freshman goaltender Hayden Lavigne on a shot attempt. Despite the power-play opportunity, though, the Wolverines came away without any goals due to the Huskies’ revitalized penalty-kill unit.
“Michigan’s got a good power play,” said Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson. “They’ve got some skilled guys and they always have. We played them earlier in the year in Ann Arbor, and basically their power play carried them to a win and a tie. Our penalty killers did a great job. … We were really good in that area tonight.”
A scuffle that broke out in the final four minutes sent freshman forward Will Lockwood off the ice for the remainder of the game, while multiple players from each team were sent to the penalty box as well. And despite any last-minute offensive efforts by Michigan, it wasn’t able to put any goals on the board.
Michigan Tech not only secured a win over the Wolverines, but also a spot in the title game Friday night. The Wolverines, on the other hand, will play either Western Michigan or Michigan State at 3:30 on Friday to determine a third-place finisher for the event.