The Michigan Tech Huskies made it to the final but couldn’t complete the run for another Great Lakes Invitational title on Tuesday at Detroit’s new Little Caesar’s Arena.
Michigan Tech beat the Michigan State Spartans 5-2 in the semifinal on New Year’s Day, only to fall 4-1 to the Bowling Green Falcons in Tuesday night’s final.
The Huskies boast three former Trail Smoke Eaters up front in Brent Baltus, Trail native Jake Lucchini, and Nakusp product Greyson Reitmeier, in addition to former Merritt Centennial defenceman Dane Birks, son of Beaver Valley Nitehawks assistant coach Bill Birks.
Tech was looking to claim their 11th GLI title following two second-place finishes in the previous two tournaments, with their last win coming in 2012, and got off to a great start with the win over the Spartans.
“It’s tough coming back from Christmas break,” said Lucchini at a press conference after netting a goal and an assist against the Spartans. “Obviously you stay in shape but not practising at the level that we practise is kind of tough. So the first period I think it was kind of tough for our team, and then after that we just kind of took off.”
The Falcons (10-6-6) claimed their first-ever title in their third appearance in the GLI, after beating University of Michigan 6-4 on Monday for the program’s first win in the tournament.
In the GLI final, the teams were evenly matched through two periods. Brett D’Andrea gave the Falcons a 1-0 lead after one period, when he scored on a 4-on-3 advantage with 1 minute, 43 seconds left.
The Huskies tied the game at 1-1 when Lucchini netted a power-play goal at 2:37 of the second, but the Falcons regained the lead when Connor Ford scored at the 8:04 mark.
A Huskies goal looked to tie it but the official waved it off after a review deemed the puck was knocked down by a high stick.
“I give full credit the way Bowling Green played the hockey game tonight,” said Huskies coach Joe Shawhan. “We’re not where we need to be yet, but our team, our players, we’ve been battling and coming back every game; I think we’ve been down for the last dozen or so. So I give our players a lot of credit, I just think Bowling Green had a way of breaking our will a little bit, and they did what they had to do to come out on top.”
Bowling Green pulled away with a pair of goals 63 seconds apart in the third. John Schilling scored at 12:10, and Tyler Spezia found the back of the net at 13:13 for the 4-1 final.
BG’s Eric Dop finished with 29 saves in the contest, while Robbie Beydoun of Michigan Tech stopped 21 shots.