Lakers upend Michigan State in GLI semifinal, will play Tech for title

Diego Cuglietta’s overtime winner was the difference maker in a 4-3 win for Lake Superior State against Michigan State in the second semifinal game of the Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) at the home of the Detroit Red Wings.

The Spartans (6-10-1, 2-5-1 Big Ten) jumped out to a 2-0 lead with goals by Dennis Cesana and Wojciech Stachowiak.  After settling down, Lakers netminder Nick Kossoff kept Michigan State at bay, including the line of Taro Hirose, Patrick Khodorenko and Mitch Lewandowski, who have a combined 23 goals and 35 assists between them.

“We didn’t come out strong, going down by two goals was tough, but we battled back and stuck with it,” said Lakers assistant coach Mike York.

“This is a great group of kids who come into practice and work hard every day,” added York, on the team culture.

Anthony Nellis halved the Lakers’ deficit with a rocket from the high slot midway thru the first period.  Later, Cuglietta redirected a Nellis shot on the power play, tying the game in the process.

Lake Superior (10-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) took the lead midway thru the game when Max Humitz executed a perfect wraparound that beat Spartan goaltender John Lethemon, giving the Lakers their first lead of the afternoon.

Michigan State tied the game in the third when a Laker turnover led to a 3 on 1.  Stachowiak picked up his second of the day, which was enough to force overtime.

A faceoff in the Spartan end following an icing set up Lake Superior for the win.  Cuglietta collected a pass from Jacob Nordqvist and buried the puck behind Lethemon for the win.

Lake State is set to take on tourney host Michigan Tech in the title game tomorrow.  The game will follow the consolation game between Michigan State and Michigan, which starts at 11:30 a.m.  Michigan (6-7-5, 2-4-4-2 Big Ten) and Michigan Tech (10-7-2, 9-2-1-1 WCHA) skated to a 2-2 tie in the first semifinal game.  A shootout victory by the Huskies lifted them into the championship.

“They’re a good team, they made the tournament out of our league last year,” said York, on the Huskies.  “We’ve struggled against them in the past, but this is a new year and a new group of guys.”