Michigan Statewon their second Great Lakes Invitational championship in three years Saturday night with a 4-1 win over Michigan in front of 15,934 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.
It was MSU's 11th championship in 32 appearances in the GLI.
"The day we came back from break, I never thought in a million years that we could pull it together this quickly and play this well," said MSU head coach Rick Comley. "This is the premier holiday tournament in the nation."
The Spartans scored three power-play goal and a shorthanded goal to put away the Wolverines.
Tim Crowderstarted the scoring at 10:53 of the first period with a one-time laser past Michigan goalie Billy Sauer. Bryan Lerg fed Crowder from the bottom of the right circle and Crowder beat Sauer stick side.
Travis Turnbulltied the game for the Wolverines just 5:11 into the middle period. Turnbull's centering pass deflected off MSU defenseman Brandon Gentile and past goalie Jeff Lerg.
Crowder gave Michigan State the lead back at 13:20, just 10 seconds into a 5-on-3 advantage. Lerg dished off to Crowder at the left dot and another one-timer beat Sauer.
"It was something that we wanted to start doing, finding me on the far side," said Crowder. "I was open every time and it just worked out perfectly."
Lerg made it 3-1 Spartans when he stripped Michigan defenseman Matt Hunwick at his own blue line and went in on a breakway. Lerg, named the tournament MVP, deked to his backhand and went top shelf on Sauer at 16:47 for the shorthanded tally.
"I saw Matt Hunwick bobble the puck, so I just tipped it to his right and I was away on a breakaway," said Lerg. "I faked the shot and deked to the backhand. I guess that's my signature move, so it might be time to change that up."
"Our power play is struggling to score and to give up a shorthanded goal like that is a game-breaker," said U-M head coach Red Berenson. "When you give up three power-play goals and one shorthanded goal, it's obvious our special teams didn't match up."
Mike Ratchukiced the game for MSU at 7:14 of the third period with a blast from the point.
"Tonight was our best defensive effort of the season," said Jeff Lerg, who finished with 21 saves. "Other than a few shots from the outside and a few scrambles, we didn't give them much of anything."
Sauer made 31 saves for the Wolverines (13-8-0), who are off this weekend.
Michigan State (11-7-1) travels to Miami for a pair of CCHA games with the second-place RedHawks.
In the third-place game Saturday, Harvard beat Michigan Tech, 3-2.
Harvard built a 3-0 lead 3:56 into the second period when Rob Nolan replaced Michael-Lee Teslak in net for MTU.
Tyler Shelast(power play, 7:37) and Malcolm Gwilliam (11:59) scored third-period goals for the Huskies, but couldn't find the equalizer with Nolan on the bench in the waning moments.
"I thought our effort was much better tonight certainly compared with last night," said MTU head coach Jamie Russell. "Considering the short turnaround from last night to an afternoon game, I thought our kids laid it all on the line. We got over 40 shots on goal, a number of chances in the third period."
Teslak made 10 saves, while Nolan finished with 17.
Harvard goalie Kyle Richter made a career-high 41 stops for the Crimson, who also got two goals from Mike Taylor and a single from Alex Meintel.
The Huskies (8-10-2) head to Minnesota-Duluth this weekend.
Photo by Matt Mackinder