Great Lakes Invitational
Louis Arena • Detroit
Michigan State vs. Harvard, 4:35 p.m.
Michigan vs. Michigan Tech, 8:05 p.m.
Saturday, December 30
Consolation game, 4:05 p.m.
Championship game, 7:35 p.m.
On TV: All games shown
live on Fox Sports Detroit, except Michigan vs. Michigan
Tech, which will be tape delayed until 11 p.m.
Colorado College coasted to its first
GLI title, jumping to a 6-0 lead in beating Michigan
State 6-3 in the championship game. The Tigers thrashed
Michigan 6-1 on the first day, and Joey Crabb won
tourney MVP honors with his seven-point effort.
The Spartans beat Michigan Tech 3-2
in overtime in the first round, then the Wolverines
bettered their tournament co-hosts 5-3 in the consolation
Michigan has lost its last eight GLI
games to teams other than Michigan Tech, dating to
a 1999 win over Lake Superior State. The Wolverines
are 5-1 against Tech during that span. ... History
suggests that the winner of the MSU-Harvard game will
take the tournament crown. Since 1997, the GLI has
been won by either the Spartans or the “guest”
participant. ... Harvard captain Dylan Reese and MSU
captain Chris Lawrence were teammates on the Pittsburgh
Forge’s 2003 NAHL championship squad. ... This
is Harvard’s fifth GLI appearance, and first
The best bet for thrill-a-minute hockey
would be keeping an eye on the Michigan tandem of
T.J. Hensick and Kevin Porter. Hensick might be the
best playmaker in the college game, and Porter has
made a living (figuratively, of course) by being the
marksman at the other end of Hensick’s passes.
Speaking of slick playmakers, MSU’s
Tim Kennedy has emerged as a highlight generator this
season, showing quick feet and even quicker hands
as he has jumped to the top of the Spartans’
Up in Houghton, the Huskies’ sophomore
goaltending tandem of Michael-Lee Teslak and Rob Nolan
has stolen the show. (Given recent MTU history, who
saw that coming?) But also keep an eye on offensively
gifted defensemen Lars Helminen and Eli Vlaisavljevich.
The Crimson, who have played just one
game in the last month, are led by senior center Kevin
Du and senior defenseman Dylan Reese. Neither is spectacular
in the jaw-dropping sense, but both are spectacular
in terms of playing hockey the right way.
HOW WE SEE IT
This might be the toughest GLI to call
in years, with all four entrants seeming capable of
winning the thing. Michigan and Michigan State are
far from invincible, Harvard is supposed to be better
than it is, and Michigan Tech is better than
it has been. The Huskies, who haven’t won their
event since 1980, are the only team not short-handed
because of the world junior tournament. U-M is missing
defenseman Jack Johnson and forward Andrew Cogliano.
MSU is short forward Justin Abdelkader. Harvard is
without forward Jimmy Fraser. Might that open the
door to Tech?
First, the Huskies will have to get
past the mighty Wolverines ... and we’ll say
they do. Tech’s defense has tightened significantly
this season, and U-M has not played well with Johnson
out of the lineup. In the other semi, we’ll
take MSU over rusty Harvard and former Spartan goalie
Justin Tobe. That sets up an intriguing final between
Michigan Tech and Michigan State — one that
could go either way. Though we’d love to see
the Huskies end their quarter-century-plus GLI drought,
we’ll take MSU on the condition that goalie
Jeff Lerg continues his improved play. (And for the
other guys, we’ll go with Michigan over Harvard
in overtime in the
— James Jahnke