Western Michigan cruises to the men’s hockey Great Lakes Invitational title
Western Michigan defeated Ferris State 8-2 on Wednesday night to become the 57th Great Lakes Invitational champions. Michigan Tech topped Michigan State in an overtime thriller 3-2 to earn third place in the tournament.
The GLI has been a Michigan holiday hockey tradition for decades and has annually showcased some of the nation’s best teams and players, featuring some compelling action and bitter rivalries.
Here’s a quick guide to this year’s invitation:
Great Lakes Invitational Schedule
This season’s tournament marks the 17th time all four teams have come from Michigan. Michigan Tech will battle Western Michigan in the opener before Michigan State takes on Ferris State in the nightcap at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. The winners will advance to the championship game the following evening, following the third-place game in the afternoon.
LATEST RANKING: Click or tap here for the latest USCHO poll
Below are the results from this year’s GLI:
Wednesday, December 28:
Tuesday, December 27:
Summary of last year’s GLI
After COVID-19 canceled the tournament in 2020, it also forced the four teams to play a showcase event last season without crowning a winner. Michigan skated to a scoreless home ice tie with Michigan Tech – the first between the two programs since 1954. Michigan State fell to Western Michigan at home, 3-1, before going on to beat MTU, 3-2 in overtime, at home too.
SCHEDULE: Click or tap here for the latest Division I men’s hockey scores
The game between WMU and Michigan was canceled due to COVID-19 and roster concerns.
Scouting this year’s teams
The Spartans have been one of the biggest surprises in college hockey this season. Picked to finish last in the preseason Big Ten poll, MSU (12-7-1, 6-5-1 Big Ten) has surged through the first half of the season, climbing to No. 11 in the USCHO poll and ranking third in the conference standings.
They are 5-6-1 against teams currently in the top-20, but boast wins against Penn State and UMass Lowell as well as a sweep of Ohio State. MSU is 3-3-0 in its last three series, beating Miami (Ohio), getting swept by Minnesota and splitting with Michigan.
Michigan State is averaging 3.2 goals per game while giving up 2.6. On special teams, the Spartans rank in the top-10 nationally with an 84.7 percent penalty kill rate, and their power play is scoring 20.3 percent of the time.
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Individually, a pair of freshmen have stepped up to lead MSU. Daniel Russell has 19 points (6g, 13a) in 20 games, and Karson Dorwart (18 points) is tied with senior forward Jagger Joshua for the team lead with seven goals. In goal, graduate transfer Dylan St. Cyr has continued his strong form from his days at Quinnipiac, posting a .925 save percentage, a 2.43 goals-against average (GAA) and two shutouts to go along with his 11-7-1 record . .
The GLI hosts the Huskies sit 17th in the polls. MTU (11-5-3, 7-4-3 CCHA) enters the tournament after going 3-2-1 in its last three series. Tech went 1-0-1 with Minnesota State before splitting with Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State.
Of the teams in this year’s Invitational, the Huskies have only gone against Ferris State, losing 2-1 in their season opener.
The Huskies rank fifth nationally in goals per game (2.1), and the penalty kill is eighth (85.1 percent). Offensively, MTU is scoring 3.0 goals per game and is shooting 16.4 percent on the man advantage.
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Junior forward Ryan Moseley is scoring exactly one point per game with 19 points (9g, 10a). Behind him is first striker Kyle Kukkonen with 14 points (7g, 7a). Between the pipes, Blake Pitela has been strong for Tech. On the season, the senior netminder holds a .928 save percentage, a 1.98 GAA, four shutouts over his 10-5-2 record.
Looking at Western Michigan, they are ranked 18th in the USCHO poll. The Broncos (10-9-1, 4-5-1 NCHC) faced a tough schedule in a strong conference and have slipped a bit in recent weeks.
However, they have gone 1-3-1 in their last five games, winning against Northeastern in the Music City Hockey Classic to close out November before getting swept by Omaha and going winless against North Dakota. Like MTU, the Broncos faced Ferris State earlier this season, winning 6-4.
Western Michigan’s 3.9 goals per game ranks fifth in the nation, but they are also giving up an average of 3.0. The power play is running at 25.6 percent, which is 11th in Division I, but the penalty kill has the sixth-lowest percentage at 75.3 percent.
Freshman forward Ryan McAllister leads the potent offense, sitting atop the nation with 33 points (10g, 23a) in 20 games. Senior forward Jason Polin is right behind him with 24 points, including a team-high 13 goals. Young goalkeeper Cameron Rowe has had the bulk of the load. In 19 appearances, he has an .886 save percentage, a 2.91 GAA and a 9-8-1 shutout.
The Bulldogs (8-8-1, 6-5-1 CCHA) are looking to close out a strong month of December, going 4-2-0 with a sweep of Minnesota State and splits with Northern Michigan and St . Thomas (Minn.)
Ferris State enters the GLI as the only team not currently ranked in the top-20, but until the most recent poll, they had been receiving votes for several weeks. A strong performance against this week’s ranked opponents could go a long way toward their position in the polls.
Ferris is scoring 2.7 goals per game, but allowing 3.1. On special teams, the penalty kill is running at 79.2 percent, and the power play is converting on 16.3 percent of its chances.
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Junior forward Stepan Pokorny (6g, 6a) and sophomore forward Bradley Marek (5g, 7a) lead the way with 12 points each in 17 games. In the crease, sophomore Noah Giesbrecht and junior Logan Stein have split the workload pretty evenly all season. Giesbrecht has a .914 save percentage, a 2.67 GAA and a 5-4-0 record in 14 appearances (10 starts). As for Stein, in 11 appearances (eight starts), he has a .905 save percentage, a 3.24 GAA and a 3-4-2 record.
GLI history of all time
With this year’s tournament being held in Grand Rapids, it marks the second time in its history that the GLI will not be played in Detroit as the participating schools hosted each other last season.
It started at Detroit’s Olympia Stadium before moving to Joe Louis Arena, where it was held until Joe’s closed in 2018. From 2017-19, it was played at the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. In 2013, the Invitational was held outdoors at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, where Michigan defeated Michigan Tech in overtime, 1-0.
The University of Toronto won the first Great Lakes Invitational over Michigan Tech in what is the Varsity Blues’ only tournament appearance. Michigan holds the most titles with 17, while Michigan State follows with 12. MTU ranks third all-time with 11 GLI championships.
HISTORY: Every Division I men’s hockey champion since 1948
Western Michigan has participated five times, winning three, while Ferris State has finished fourth both times it has been in the tournament.
The Invitational has traditionally featured Michigan Tech, Michigan and Michigan State with a different fourth team each season. However, this will be the first season since 1973 that Michigan has not participated in the GLI. Michigan Tech has appeared in the event since its inception in 1965, while Michigan State has competed in it since 1979.
Here are the all-time results:
|year||Winner||The candidate||Third place||Fourth place|
|2019||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country||Ferris State|
|2018||Lake Superior State||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country|
|2017||Bowling Green||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country|
|2016||Western Mich.||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country|
|2015||Michigan||Technical Mich||Northern Mich.||Mich. Country|
|2014||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Ferris State|
|2013||Western Mich.||Technical Mich||Mich. Country||Michigan|
|2012||Technical Mich||Western Mich.||Michigan||Mich. Country|
|2011||Michigan||Mich. Country||Boston Col.||Technical Mich|
|2010||Michigan||Colorado Col.||Mich. Country||Technical Mich.|
|2009||Mich. Country||Rensselaer||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|2008||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||North Dakota|
|2007||Michigan||Technical Mich||Providence||Mich. Country|
|2006||Mich. Country||Michigan||Harvard||Technical Mich|
|2005||Colorado Col.||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|2004||Mich. Country||Michigan||UNH||Technical Mich|
|2003||Boston Col.||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|2002||Boston U.||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich|
|2001||North Dakota||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|2000||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Boston Col.||Michigan|
|1999||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich||Lake Superior St.|
|1998||Mich. Country||Michigan||Northern Mich.||Technical Mich|
|1997||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich||Saint Lawrence|
|1996||Michigan||Lake Superior St.||Mich. Country||Technical Mich|
|1995||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Northern Mich.|
|1994||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Cornell|
|1993||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Notre Dame|
|1992||Michigan||Northern Mich.||Mich. Country||Technical Mich|
|1991||Michigan||Technical Mich||Mich. Country||Harvard|
|1990||Michigan||Maine||Technical Mich||Mich. Country|
|1989||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Northern Mich.|
|1988||Michigan||North Dakota||Mich. Country||Technical Mich|
|1987||Wisconsin||Mich. Country||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|1986||Western Mich.||Michigan||Mich. Country||Technical Mich|
|1985||Mich. Country||Rensselaer||Michigan||Technical Mich|
|1984||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Michigan||Bowling Green|
|1983||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Northern Mich.||Michigan|
|1982||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Michigan||Notre Dame|
|1981||Notre Dame||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country|
|1980||Technical Mich||Michigan||Mich. Country||Harvard|
|1979||Technical Mich||Michigan||Wisconsin||Mich. Country|
|1978||Technical Mich||Ohio State||Boston U.||Michigan|
|1977||Technical Mich||Michigan||Lake Superior St.||Western Mich.|
|1976||Technical Mich||Michigan||Coffee||Bowling Green|
|1975||Michigan||Technical Mich||Boston U.||Pennsylvania|
|1973||Mich. Country||Technical Mich||Boston Col.||Pennsylvania|
|1972||Harvard||Technical Mich||Boston U.||Michigan|
|1971||Technical Mich||Mich. Country||Dartmouth||Notre Dame|
|1969||UNH||Mich. Country||Technical Mich.||Princeton|
|1968||Technical Mich||Wisconsin||Mich. Country||Michigan|
|1967||North Dakota||Technical Mich||Mich. Country||Western Ontario|
|1966||Michigan||Mich. Country||Mich. Tech||Western Ontario|
|1965||Toronto||Technical Mich||Boston U.||Colorado Col.|