December 28, 2005
Great Lakes Invitational
Joe Louis Arena • Detroit, Mich.

Holiday Tournament Preview


Thursday, December 29

Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 4:35 p.m.
Colorado College vs. Michigan, 8:05 p.m.

Friday, December 30

Third-Place Game, 4:35 p.m.
Championship Game, 8:05 p.m.

On TV: Fox Sports Net Detroit will carry all four games live.


Michigan State beat Michigan once in five meetings last season, a 2-1 overtime decision in the championship game of the Great Lakes Invitational that was secured on Colton Fretter's overtime goal. It was the second OT win of the weekend for the Spartans, who beat New Hampshire, 4-3, in the opener. A short-handed Michigan team, with its ranks depleted by the World Junior Championship, beat Michigan Tech in the opening round.


Colorado College makes its first appearance at the Great Lakes Invitational since the tournament was held for the first time, in 1965. The Tigers, one year removed from Jeff Sauer's playing days, suffered two lopsided losses in their only other GLI appearance. Toronto, which went on to win the tournament's first title, beat the Tigers 6-2 in the opener, and Boston University claimed the third-place game, 10-3.


This tournament features a rare – if not unprecedented – field that includes three returning Hobey Baker Award finalists. Of that group, the two who didn't bring home the award last season are enjoying the best current years. That's not to slight Marty Sertich, who has 28 points in 22 games for Colorado College, but his teammate Brett Sterling is leading the nation with 19 goals. Facing Sterling, Sertich and the Tigers on Thursday is Michigan's T.J. Hensick. If Sertich is the set-up man and Sterling the goal scorer, Hensick is a combination of the two, a player who does it all for the Wolverines.

GLI history, however, tells us that the names on the marquee entering the weekend may not be the biggest difference-makers on the ice. Backup goalies, for example, have played an abnormally large role in the tournament, whether it was Michigan's Noah Ruden, Joe Pearce for Boston College in 2003, of the unlikeliest of heroes, Michigan State's Mike Gresl in 1998. Predicting who to watch in the GLI may be more futile than rooting for Michigan Tech, which once again faces enormous odds in search of its first GLI title since 1980.


Although Michigan State snapped a stretch of three straight "outsiders" winning the GLI, the table appears set for Colorado College to take the title from the state once again. The Tigers are supremely talented (led by Sterling, Sertich and defenseman Brian Salcido) and accustomed to playing on a big stage (having beaten Michigan in Grand Rapids to advance to last year's Frozen Four).

Michigan, meanwhile, is missing several key ingredients thanks to the World Junior Championship, a familiar refrain that has at least contributed to its eight-year GLI title drought. That should leave Michigan State as the Tigers' top challenger, especially if the Spartans, who are 2-1-2 in their last five, can recapture the energy that carried them to a 5-1-1 start this season.