Ice Hockey: Special Teams Bury Wolverines

The No. 10-ranked Michigan ice hockey team dropped a 4-1 decision to No. 14 Michigan State in the Great Lakes Invitational championship game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit on Saturday night. Travis Turnball scored the Wolverines lone goal, and Billy Sauer made 31 saves for the Wolverines who gave up three power-play goals and a shorthanded marker.

A new look couldn't save the Wolverines from their GLI jinx. Michigan's struggles in the Great Lakes Invitational continued in the championship game on Saturday night at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit with a 4-1 defeat at the hands of in-state rival Michigan State.

"It was a disappointing start to the game and obviously a disappointing outcome for our team," said Michigan coach Red Berenson. "We knew MSU was a good team, but we didn't match their intensity and it certainly showed up in the first 10 minutes -- I think shots were 9-1 against. Billy Sauer kept us in the game and gave us a chance. Then we started to play better in the second period. Then a rash of penalties turned the game in a different direction. When you give up three power-play goals and a shorthanded goal it's obvious that our special teams did not match up."

Play flowed back and forth in the opening minutes. Michigan had the games first scoring chance as Chad Kolarik coasted in alone on Michigan State goalie Jeff Lerg's right, but his shot flew high and wide of the net.

Michigan State's Bryan Lerg had the Spartans first early chance by beating Michigan goalie Billy Sauer to a loose puck, but Michigan captain Matt Hunwick tipped away the shot into the open net to keep the game scoreless.

It didn't stay that way long, however, as Michigan State broke the score with a power-play goal midway through the first period. Tim Crowder scored the Spartans goal on a one-time shot from the left circle after a cross-ice pass from Bryan Lerg caught Sauer on the wrong post.

Michigan State threatened to make it 2-0 with a breakaway late in the period, but Sauer kicked the shot aside and Michigan trailed 1-0 after 20 minutes.

Travis Turnball tied the game 1-1 with a power-play goal 5:01 into the second period. Turnball, with the puck in the left corner, threw a pass to Brandon Naurato on the far post. Before finding Naurato, the puck deflected off the shin of a Michigan State defenseman in front of the net and past Jeff Lerg for the Wolverines lone goal of the night.

Michigan State pulled back into the lead minutes later. After penalties to Kolarik, Chris Summers and Jason Dest put Michigan into a five-on-three penalty kill situation. MSU capitalized with another one-time goal, again from the left circle, to make it 2-1 at 7:05.

Bryan Lerg recorded his third point of the night with a shorthanded goal in the final five minutes of the period. Lerg kicked an attempt to send the puck into the corner out into the neutral zone and then beat Sauer on a breakaway to bury the Wolverines.

"Those are huge, back-breaking goals. Our power play is expecting to score and then you give up a shorthanded goal. And the timing of it in a big game makes it a game-breaker," Berenson said.

Michigan State held a 24-16 edge in shots through two periods.

T.J. Hensick hit a post early in the third period for the Wolverines, but the game was never in doubt and MSU's Mike Ratchuk scored the Spartans final goal on the power play with a shot from the point that beat a screened Sauer.

Michigan returns to action a week from Tuesday at Yost Ice Arena in a CCHA match up with the Bowling Green State Falcons.

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