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MTU goes for back-to-back GLI title

Huskies claim 3-2 shootout win over Michigan State in tournament opener

Friday, 12.27.2013 / 8:46 PM ET / Recap
By Stefan Kubus  - MiHockeyNow.com
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MTU goes for back-to-back GLI title

DETROIT – For the first time since 1979, the Michigan Tech Huskies will have the opportunity to capture back-to-back Great Lakes Invitational championships, and their 11th overall.

In his last eight periods of Great Lakes Invitational hockey, Michigan Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley hadn't allowed a goal. And despite allowing two against Michigan State in Friday's GLI opener, Copley backstopped the Huskies to a 3-2 shootout victory. Senior forward Ryan Furne scored the shootout winner in the fifth round, while sophomore Alex Petan and senior Grand Ledge native Jacob Johnstone scored in regulation for the Huskies.

Coach Mel Pearson said the potential of back-to-back GLI victories would be a huge accomplishment for the program after a difficult stretch of struggling years.

"It'd be huge, not only for ourselves, but just all the people who have supported this program for so long," Pearson said. "We've got a great alumni base, great fan base here in all of Michigan and they support us. I've ben to this tournament 33 years and I always notice the Tech fans. I think it'd be huge for them and huge for everybody back in the Copper Country who have really supported over the lame years."

The Huskies and Spartans began the game in front of a Detroit sunset and finished it under the bright Comerica Park lights.

Petan said the entire experience of playing in such an atmosphere was bone-chilling.

"As soon as we hit that ice for warm-ups, it was definitely the experience of a lifetime. Obviously, we knew the ice conditions weren't that great, but we adapted well and I thought everyone had a great game. It was super exciting for me."

Despite not scoring a power play goal in the game, the Huskies built a wave of momentum from multiple opportunities and found a way to beat MSU goaltender Jake Hildebrand at even strength at 13:10 of the second frame.

Senior forward Jacob Johnstone took a nifty spin-o-rama pass from Houghton native Blake Hietala to make it 1-0. For the Grand Ledge native Johnstone, it was his first goal and point of the year.

The Huskies controlled the play in the first period overall, but stepped it up a notch in the second stanza, outshooting the Spartans 20-5 in the second period alone and 27-10 through 40 minutes.

"We really took control of the game in the second period," Pearson said. "Even though we were only up 1-0, I thought we should've been up more."

With 1:42 of power-play time to begin the third period on fresh ice, the Spartans converted, as junior Canton native Matt Berry evened things up at 1-1, just 52 seconds into the period.

Minutes later, John Draeger's point shot found its way past Copley for a 2-1 lead. Sophomore forward and Farmington Hills native Ryan Keller got credit for tipping the goal in.

With 11:47 to play in the third period, sophomore Alex Petan tied it right back up for the Huskies, burying a rebound in front of Hildebrand in the slot.

With no conclusion after 65 minutes, the teams headed to a shootout.

In the shootout, it took five rounds, but Furne capped it off with a slick, patient goal for the win to send his Huskies back to the GLI championship game on Saturday.

"I was really proud of our team tonight," Pearson said. "I thought right from the get-go, we played well, considering the ice conditions. Both teams obviously had to play on them, but I thought we did a lot of good things."

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 PLAYOFFS
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
T. Tatar 5 0 3 1 3
M. Green 5 1 1 -1 2
A. Athanasiou 5 1 0 1 1
G. Nyquist 5 1 0 2 1
H. Zetterberg 5 1 0 3 1
J. Abdelkader 5 1 0 -3 1
B. Richards 5 1 0 -4 1
D. Helm 5 1 0 -1 1
D. Larkin 5 1 0 -2 1
N. Kronwall 5 0 1 3 1
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 1 2 0 .945 1.36
J. Howard 0 2 0 .891 3.59