December 26, 2007
Great Lakes Invitational

Joe Louis Arena • Detroit

Holiday Tournament Preview


Friday, Dec. 28
Providence vs. Michigan, 4:35 p.m.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 8:05 p.m.

Saturday, Dec. 29
Third-place Game, 4:05 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:35 p.m.

(All times Eastern)

On TV: Fox Sports Net Detroit will have live coverage of all four GLI games.


Michigan State won the GLI for the second time in three years, beating Harvard, 5-2, in the opening round and topping Michigan, 4-1, in the championship match. The Wolverines downed Michigan Tech, 4-1, in its first-round contest. The Huskies dropped a 3-2 decision to Harvard in the third-place game.

Forward Bryan Lerg, with three goals and three assists in two games, was named tournament MVP. His cousin, Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg, earned all-tournament honors by stopping 66 of 69 shots he faced, including 45 saves in the 5-2 win against Harvard.


This tournament, once solely the domain of Michigan-based teams — from 1973 to 2000, Notre Dame (1981) and Wisconsin (1987) were the only schools from outside the Great Lake State to win the GLI. Since 2001, however, four of the six GLI champions have been imports (North Dakota, Boston University, Boston College, and Colorado College).


Losing players to the World Junior Championships has crippled Michigan's efforts in the past and the Wolverines are without four regulars for this year's GLI, but Red Berenson's two top weapons — senior forwards Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, both among the country's leading scorers — aren't among those in absentia. Add in high-scoring freshman Aaron Palushaj, shutdown defenseman Mark Mitera, and vastly improved goalie Billy Sauer, and U-M has the pieces to win its first GLI title since 1996. Then there's Providence, making its first GLI appearance. The Friars are led by senior forward Jon Rheault and junior defenseman Matt Taormina, both of whom have 16 points through 14 games. Taormina leads Hockey East blueliners in scoring. Senior Tyler Sims (2.16 GAA, .917 save pct.) has been the main man in goal.

Michigan State, naturally, would like to return to the winners circle. Junior forward Tim Kennedy has been superb for the Spartans this season. His 20 points leads a balanced MSU scoring attack, as State has nine players with 11 or more points. And in Jeff Lerg, MSU boasts perhaps the game's top big-game goalie. Michigan Tech, meanwhile, hasn't won the GLI since 1981. The Huskies' hopes are likely tied to the play of junior goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak, who ranks fourth in the nation with a 1.72 goals against average; his .934 save percentage is the country's 10th best mark in that category.


We're all aware of what Michigan is capable of, but don't discount Providence. The Friars, who started the season with four straight losses, are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, have scored four or more goals in five of their last seven outings, and have attempted 28 or more shots on goal in 13 of their first 14 outings. Providence also boasts the nation's fourth-best power play with a 24.6 percent success rate and a penalty kill that ranks among the top 20 in the country at 86.9 percent -- and only Notre Dame has more shorthanded goals than the Friars' six. Providence can win if it can keep the offensive pressure on the Wolverines and get to Sauer early, win the special teams battle, and Sims turns in a quality effort. That said,
Porter has been virtually unstoppable this season. Providence
impresses the fans at Joe Louis Arena, but Michigan wins.

One of these years, Michigan Tech will break through and win the GLI. But it's not going to be this year. Though Michigan State has a reputation (a deserved one) of inconsistency, the Spartans have too much depth at forward to be denied. Expect MSU to handle the goal-starved Huskies to set up a Michigan-Michigan State finale. And though it seems the Spartans have played Seinfeld to the Wolverines' Newman in recent years, Michigan is due. They'll take down MSU in the championship match by following the lead of tournament MVP Porter.

— Mike Eidelbes