Hockey: Michigan wins 51st Great Lakes Invitational at the Joe

The University of Michigan ice hockey team defeats Michigan Tech University,4-2,in the championship game of the Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis in Detroit, MI on December 30, 2015.

DETROIT —  The 10th-ranked University of Michigan ice hockey team clinched its record 17th Great Lakes Invitational title with a 4-2 win over Michigan Tech late Wednesday night at Joe Louis Arena.

A strong defensive effort by the Wolverines and a comeback from a 2-0 first-period deficit was the difference.  U of M had a three-goal second period to take the lead.  Goals by sophomore forward Tony Calderone, junior forward Tyler Motte, and junior forward Alex Kile helped push Michigan ahead. Senior goaltender Steve Racine (27 saves) kept the Huskies scoreless in the third period.  Michigan killed two penalties in the opening 10 minutes of the third .

Sophomore defenseman Sam Piazza sealed the win with an empty-net goal at 19:28, his first goal as a Wolverine.  Freshman forward Kyle Connor was named tournament MVP and was joined by Piazza and Racine on the GLI All-Tournament team.

Michigan Tech had the early momentum in the contest, as the host Huskies took the lead on their first shot of the night.  Jake Jackson took a pass from Dylan Steman, skated down the left wing, cut to the net, and beat Racine high over the blocker at 2:55 to put Michigan Tech up 1-0.  It was his first goal as a Huskie.  Brent Baltus tallied next for Michigan Tech at 14:21 of the first period with a power-play goal from the edge of the crease.  Mark Auk made a great play for the Huskies with a hard shot towards the front of the net.

The Wolverines settled down after the goal, as Connor and Calderone both had several quality chances.  Midway through the frame, Calderone twice had the puck on his stick alone in the high slot but could not beat Jamie Phillips.  The Wolverines got the offense going in the second period and held off the Huskies the rest of the way.  Two Huskies, Baltus and Auk were named to the GLI All-Tournament Team as was Dominik Shine of NMU.

Northern Michigan won the consolation game over Michigan State in overtime 2-1, when Robbie Payne scored in the slot with a power play goal.  The Wildcats travel to Minnesota State at Mankato next weekend for a two game series.

Michigan will return to Big Ten play next Friday night, January, 8, at Munn Arena to take on rival Michigan State for a 6:30 p.m. contest.  The Huskies travel to Glendale, Arizona to take on Connecticut in the Desert Hockey Classic also on January 8, at 7:00 pm.

PLAN NOW—  Next season’s fourth team in the 52nd Great Lake Invitational will be Western Michigan.  The Broncos will be matched up against the Spartans.  Michigan Tech will play Michigan.  Bowling Green is the fourth team in 2017, the first in the new state-of-the-art downtown home of the Red Wings.  Lake Superior State is the selection in 2018.

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