Spartans, Wolverines, Huskies and Wildcats Prepare For Great Lakes Invitational

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The 51st annual Great Lakes Invitational will get underway this Tuesday Dec. 29 and Wednesday Dec. 30 as four college hockey teams from the state of Michigan will compete against one another at Joe Louis Arena.

The first game, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, will feature teams who know each other very well because of history they have had as recent as this season. Michigan State and Michigan Tech played a weekend series in East Lansing back in late November. The Spartans led late in both of those games but would end up losing the first game in overtime. Game two ended in a tie with Michigan State winning the consolation prize in the shootout. Michigan State will be out for revenge against the Huskies, while Michigan Tech will look to continue their winning ways against the struggling Spartans.

Game two, scheduled for 7:00 p.m., will see Michigan take on Northern Michigan. The Wolverines are off to a great start in conference play. With a 2-1-1 record, they currently sit in second place the Big Ten. They will face a Northern team, who might look like an easy victory on paper, but the Wildcats are not to be taken lightly. Northern is in fifth place in the WCHA and they have scored a total of 43 goals this season.

Before the GLI begins, here are a few things to know about the four teams involved:

 

Michigan Tech. Huskies

OVR (10-6-2)  3.06 GPG (18)  2.28 GAA (15)  

Goaltender: Jamie Phillips  2.20 GAA .916 sv%                               

After earning an overtime win and tie against MSU, the huskies have gone 3-2-1 aver the past six games. They currently sit in third in the WCHA behind Bowling Green and Minnesota State. Coached by Mel Pearson, the Huskies are a formidable opponent and who are poised to make their second straight NCAA tournament appearance this season. They are considered one of the favorites to win the GLI.

 

Michigan State Spartans

OVR (5-11-2) 2.61 GPG (29th in NCAA) 3.28 GAA (45th in NCAA)

Goaltender: Jake Hildebrand  3.09 GAA  .902 sv%

The Spartans are a team looking to rebound from a rough patch in their season. They are looking to the GLI to gain momentum going into the heart of Big Ten play. They have plenty of motivation in this tournament. They were eliminated from the GLI in 2013 by Tech in a shootout and this year the Huskies stole two likely Spartan win in East Lansing. Should MSU face Michigan this year (as they have for the past four years) they will have the added motivation of exacting revenge on the same team that eliminated them from both the GLI crown and the Big Ten tournament.

 

Michigan Wolverines

OVR (9-3-3). 4.47 GPG. (1st in NCAA)  3.00 GAA. (36th in NCAA)

Goaltender: Zach Nagelvoort  3.14 GAA  .888 sv%.

The Wolverines are coming a split with the University of Minnesota, winning 8-3 on Friday night and losing a close game 3-2 on Sunday. After an uncharacteristic non-conference portion of their schedule, the Wolverines finally looked like they were getting back on track this past weekend and will look to continue improving in the GLI. They have a favorable matchup in round one with Northern Michigan. Should they get past that they will face Michigan State or Michigan Tech in the championship game. The Wolverines have won the GLI in 3 of the past 5 years including a win over Michigan State.

 

Northern Michigan

OVR (6-6-6) 2.39 GPG (43rd in NCAA). 2.39 GAA (19th in NCAA).

Goaltender: Atte Tolvanen  2.26 GAA  .931 sv%

The Wildcats are coming off of a split with Ferris State in which they lost game one 4-2 and won game two 3-2. Teams playing Northern in the Great Lakes invitational should not take them lightly, whether that be Michigan or whoever they end up playing in the second round. Last time the Wildcats were involved back in 1988 when they finished in third.