Michigan State heads down to Detroit this weekend for the 48th annual Great Lakes Invitational. This is Michigan State's 39th trip to the GLI holding a 48-30 all-time record in the tournament with 12 tournament titles (2009 most recent).
Unfortunately, because of the NHL lockout this tournament has been moved back from Comerica Park to Joe Louis Arena. I imagine once the NHL figures things out - Detroit probably will get another winter classic, which means the GLI will be back outdoors that year.
This year's edition of the GLI is an all Michigan edition with Michigan, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan. The Spartans face-off with Western Michigan today at 3:35 pm. They will play Michigan or Michigan Tech tomorrow at 3:30 (3rd place) or 7:00 pm (championship).
MSU holds a 63-29-8 all-time record against the Broncos. This includes a 2 game sweep last season that surprised a lot of people and really helped Michigan State begin a solid first season under Coach Anastos.
Western Michigan beat Michigan State in their only other GLI meeting back in 1986, a 7-3 game. Western Michigan won the GLI that season.
All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit
All MSU games can be heard on 1240 AM or The Spartan Sports Network
Detroit Free Press Article
Western Michigan comes into the weekend posting an impressive 11-4-1 overall mark (8-3-1-1 CCHA, 3rd place). Western was on a six game winning streak before Michigan ended that with a 2-0 victory on December 15th. The Broncos were one of the preseason favorites in the CCHA - and they are right there, though Notre Dame has played fewer games. Western has been dominating at home (8-1-0) this season, but they've been average on the road (3-3-1). Granted, this isn't a true road game, but one wonders if getting outside of the comfort zone of the Lawson Lunatics means their play goes down a little bit. With that said, they did beat Notre Dame and Michigan on the road.
Dane Walters 7 goals, 13 points
Chase Balisy 6 goals, 11 points
Kenney Morrison 4 goals, 10 points
Shane Berschbach 2 goals, 9 points
Dennis Brown 0 goals, 9 points
Frank Slubowski 11-4-1, 1.98 GAA, .918 save %
Power Play: 22.2 % (18 for 81)
Penalty Kill: 85.1 % (57 for 67
Western Michigan has outscore teams 38-32 this season, but the third period has been the most impressive with an 18-10 edge.
The Wolverines come into this tournament as the two time defending champion. They are looking for the first GLI three-peat since Michigan State won four in a row from 1997 - 2000. Michigan is looking at the GLI as a potential spring board for a second half run - and they'll need it to keep their NCAA tournament streak alive. Michigan is 6-9-2 overall (4-7-2-2 CCHA, T-7th place). Michigan has already played four games against GLI teams this year, splitting with both Michigan State and Western Michigan.
A.J. Treais 10 goals, 16 points
Mac Bennet 4 goals, 12 points
Cristoval Nieves 3 goals, 12 points
Jacob Trouba 5 goals, 11 points (at World Jrs. - Won't play in GLI)
Alex Guptill 4 goals, 11 points
Steve Racine 4-5-2, 2.94 GAA, .885 save %
Jared Rutledge 1-4-0, 4.57 GAA, .847 save %
Adam Janecyk 1-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 save %
Michigan didn't have a great first half, or even a good first half, but they may have found something with their last victory on December 15th against Western. Adam Janecyk played his first game and played very well. Michigan will need some better goaltending if they hope to succeed in the second half of the season. This might just be the spark they need, or another average weekend could simply lead to more questions than answers for Michigan.
Michigan Tech enters this GLI tournament looking for their first title since 1980, and their first finals appearance since 2007. The Huskies had a good rebound year last year under first year head coach Mel Pearson. However, things haven't been as rosy this season as Michigan Tech is only 4-10-3 (3-8-3 WCHA, T-10th). Tech is entering the weekend on a seven game winless streak (0-4-3), and they were swept at home against North Dakota in their last outing before the winter break.
Alex Petan 4 goals, 13 points
David Johnstone 4 goals, 13 points
Blake Pietila 10 goals, 12 points
Jujhar Khaira 3 goals, 12 points
Tanner Kero 3 goals, 9 points
Kevin Genoe 3-3-3, 3.28 GAA, .902 save %
Pheonix Copley 1-6-0, 4.36 GAA, .851 save %
Jamie Phillips 0-1-0, 2.48 GAA, .905 save %
It's tough seeing Michigan Tech winning this tournament, but a game wouldn't be out of the question on either day. Michigan is going to need to bring their best effort to beat Michigan Tech, and if the Huskies catch the Wolverines off guard, a win isn't out of the question.
It's tough seeing Michigan State winning this tournament as well, but there is renewed hope in East Lansing following the 3-1 victory over Ferris State, which may have been the team's most complete game of the season. That will certainly act as a confidence builder for the Spartans to throw their best effort at Western Michigan today. While the Broncos might be the favorite in the tournament, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they will come away winners.
This tournament might be more up for grabs than it has been in recent years.