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Patrick Donnelly | | December 29, 2022

Western Michigan cruises to the men's hockey Great Lakes Invitational title

Watch: Western Michigan defeats Northeastern with OT wraparound goal

Western Michigan beat Ferris State 8-2 Wednesday night to become champions of the 57th Great Lakes Invitational. Michigan Tech topped Michigan State in a 3-2 overtime thriller to claim third place in the tournament.

The GLI has been a holiday hockey tradition in Michigan for decades, and has annually showcased some of the nation's top teams and players, featuring some compelling action and bitter rivalries.  

Here's a quick guide for this year's invitational: 

The Great Lakes Invitational schedule

This season's tournament marks the 17th time that all four teams hail from Michigan. Michigan Tech will battle Western Michigan in the first game before Michigan State takes on Ferris State in the nightcap at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, Mich. The winners square off in the championship game the following evening, following the third-place game in the afternoon. 

LATEST RANKINGS: Click or tap here for the latest USCHO poll

Below are the results from this year's GLI:

Wednesday, Dec. 28:

Four separate skaters had three-point night for Western Michigan in their domination of Ferris State to win this year's GLI. Jason Polin had a natural hat trick (his second hatty of the tournament), Ryan McAllister had three assists, Chad Hillebrand had two goals and an assist and Max Sasson had a goal and two helpers. Cameron Rowe made 28 saves in goal.

For Ferris State, Mitch Deelstra had a goal and an assist, and Logan Stein and Noah Giesbrecht combined for 35 saves. 

After a 2-1 first period, it was all WMU from there as the Broncos exploded for four goals in the second period to make, coming out of the period up 6-2 and on cruise control for the rest of the game. 

The consolation game saw Michigan State take a 2-1 lead into the third period, but Michigan Tech wouldn't go out without a fight, tying the game on the power play with 1:13 left in regulation. In overtime, Brett Thorne (1g, 1a) scored the game-winner to complete the comeback. Blake Pietila made 31 saves. 

Tuesday, Dec. 27:

Ferris State road a big first period to victory against Michigan State in the semifinals. The Bulldogs took a 3-0 lead out of the first 20 minutes before the Spartans pulled within one in the second, thanks to Cole Krygier's two goals. But Ferris State's Jason Brancheau added much-needed insurance on the power play in the third.

Meanwhile, in the other semifinal bout, it was all Western Michigan. The Broncos led just 1-0 after the first, but jumped out to. 7-0 lead after the second period. It was too late for the Huskies when they finally got on the board to make it 8-1 in the third. Jason Polin's hat trick and Cole Gallant's two goals and an assist headlined a number of big nights for WMU.  

Recapping last year's GLI

After COVID-19 canceled the tournament in 2020, it also forced the four teams to play a showcase event last season with no winner crowned. Michigan skated to a scoreless tie on home ice with Michigan Tech — the first between the two programs since 1954. Michigan State fell to Western Michigan at home, 3-1, before going on to beat MTU, 3-2 in overtime, at home as well. 

SCOREBOARD: Click or tap here for the latest scores around Division I men's hockey

The game between WMU and Michigan was cancelled due to COVID-19 and roster concerns.

Scouting this year's teams

Michigan State

The Spartans have been one of the biggest surprises in college hockey this season. Picked to finish last in the Big Ten preseason poll, MSU (12-7-1, 6-5-1 Big Ten) has surged through the first half of the season, climbing to No. 11 in the USCHO poll and sitting third in the conference standings. 

They are 5-6-1 against teams currently in the top-20, but boast wins against Penn State and UMass Lowell as well as a sweep of Ohio State. MSU is 3-3-0 in their last three series, sweeping Miami (Ohio), being swept by Minnesota and splitting with Michigan. 

Michigan State is averaging 3.2 goals per game, while giving up 2.6. On special teams, the Spartans rank in the top-10 nationally with a 84.7 percent penalty kill rate, and their power play is scoring on 20.3 percent of chances. 

HOBEY BAKER: Click or tap here for the latest Hobey Baker Award watchlist

Individually, a pair of freshmen forwards have stepped up to lead MSU. Daniel Russell has 19 points (6g, 13a) in 20 games, and Karson Dorwart (18 points) is tied with senior forward Jagger Joshua for the team lead in goals with seven. In goal, graduate transfer Dylan St. Cyr has continued his strong form from his days at Quinnipiac, posting a .925 save percentage, a 2.43 goals-against average (GAA) and two shutouts to go along with his 11-7-1 record. 

Michigan Tech

The hosts of the GLI, the Huskies sit 17th in the polls. MTU (11-5-3, 7-4-3 CCHA) comes into the tournament after going 3-2-1 over their last three series. Tech went 1-0-1 with Minnesota State before splitting with Northern Michigan and Lake Superior State. 

Of teams in this year's Invitational, the Huskies have only gone against Ferris State, losing 2-1 in their season-opener. 

The Huskies rank fifth nationally in goals-against per game (2.1), and the penalty kill sits eighth (85.1 percent). Offensively, MTU is putting up 3.0 goals per game, and scoring at a 16.4 percent clip on the man-advantage.

WORLD JUNIORS: Every men's college hockey player competing in the 2023 World Junior Championship

Junior forward Ryan Moseley is scoring at exactly a point per game pace with 19 points (9g, 10a). Behind him is freshman forward Kyle Kukkonen with 14 points (7g, 7a). Between the pipes, Blake Pietila has been strong for Tech. On the season, the senior netminder holds a .928 save percentage, a 1.98 GAA, four shutouts on top of his 10-5-2 record. 

Western Michigan

Looking at Western Michigan, they rank No. 18 in the USCHO poll. The Broncos (10-9-1, 4-5-1 NCHC) dealt with a difficult schedule in a strong conference and have hit a bit of a slide in recent weeks. 

However, they've gone 1-3-1 in their last five games, winning against Northeastern at the Music City Hockey Classic to close out November before being swept by Omaha and going winless against North Dakota. Like MTU, the Broncos squared off with Ferris State earlier this season, winning 6-4. 

Western Michigan's 3.9 goals per game rank fifth in the nation, but they're also surrendering 3.0 on average. The power play is working at 25.6 percent, which sits 11th in Division I, but the penalty kill has the sixth-lowest percentage at 75.3 percent. 

Freshman forward Ryan McAllister leads the potent attack, sitting atop the nation with 33 points (10g, 23a) in 20 games. Senior forward Jason Polin is behind him with 24 points, including 13 goals for the most on the team. Junior goaltender Cameron Rowe has had most of the workload. In 19 appearances, he has an .886 save percentage, a 2.91 GAA and one shutout with a 9-8-1 marker. 

Ferris State

The Bulldogs (8-8-1, 6-5-1 CCHA) is looking to close out a strong month of December, going 4-2-0 with a sweep of Minnesota State and splits with Northern Michigan and St. Thomas (Minn.)

Ferris State enters the GLI as the only team not currently in the top-20 rankings, but up until the most recent poll, they had been receiving votes for a few weeks. A strong showing against this week's ranked opponents could go a long way for their position in the polls. 

Ferris is scoring 2.7 goals per game, but allowing 3.1. On special teams, the penalty kill is working at 79.2 percent, and the power play is converting on 16.3 percent of its chances. 

BEANPOT: What you need to know for the 2023 tournament

Junior forward Stepan Pokorny (6g, 6a) and sophomore forward Bradley Marek (5g, 7a) are leading the way with 12 points each in 17 games. In the crease, sophomore goaltender Noah Giesbrecht and junior Logan Stein have shared the workload fairly evenly throughout the season. Giesbrecht has a .914 save percentage, a 2.67 GAA and a 5-4-0 record in 14 appearances (10 starts). As for Stein, in 11 showings (eight starts), he has a .905 save percentage, a 3.24 GAA and a 3-4-2 record. 

GLI all-time history

With this year's tournament being held in Grand Rapids, it marks the second time in its history that the GLI will not be played in Detroit after the participating schools hosted each other last season. 

It began at Detroit's Olympia Stadium before moving to Joe Louis Arena, where it was held until the Joe closed in 2018. From 2017-19, it was played at the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. In 2013, the Invitational was held outdoors at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, where Michigan took down Michigan Tech in overtime, 1-0.  

The University of Toronto won the first- ver Great Lakes Invitational over Michigan Tech in what is the Varsity Blues' only appearance in the tournament. Michigan holds the most titles with 17, while Michigan State follows with 12. MTU ranks third all time with 11 GLI championships.

HISTORY: Every Division I men's hockey champion since 1948

Western Michigan has participated five times, winning three, while Ferris State has finished fourth place both times it has been in the tournament. 

The Invitational has traditionally featured Michigan Tech, Michigan and Michigan State with a different fourth team each season. However, this will be the first season since 1973 that Michigan has not participated in the GLI. Michigan Tech has appeared in the event since its inception in 1965, while Michigan State has competed in it since 1979. 

Here are the all-time results:

Year Winner Runner-up Third place Fourth place
2019 Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State Ferris State
2018 Lake Superior State Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State
2017 Bowling Green Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State
2016 Western Mich. Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State
2015 Michigan Mich. Tech Northern Mich. Mich. State
2014 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech Ferris State
2013 Western Mich. Mich. Tech Mich. State Michigan
2012 Mich. Tech Western Mich. Michigan Mich. State
2011 Michigan Mich. State Boston Col. Mich. Tech
2010 Michigan Colorado Col. Mich. State Mich. Tech.
2009 Mich. State Renssalaer Michigan Mich. Tech
2008 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech North Dakota
2007 Michigan Mich. Tech Providence Mich. State
2006 Mich. State Michigan Harvard Mich. Tech
2005 Colorado Col. Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech
2004 Mich. State Michigan UNH Mich. Tech
2003 Boston Col. Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech
2002 Boston U. Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech
2001 North Dakota Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech
2000 Mich. State Mich. Tech Boston Col. Michigan
1999 Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech Lake Superior St.
1998 Mich. State Michigan Northern Mich. Mich. Tech
1997 Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech St. Lawrence
1996 Michigan Lake Superior St. Mich. State Mich. Tech
1995 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech Northern Mich.
1994 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech Cornell
1993 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech Notre Dame
1992 Michigan Northern Mich. Mich. State Mich. Tech
1991 Michigan Mich. Tech Mich. State Harvard
1990 Michigan Maine Mich. Tech Mich. State
1989 Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech Northern Mich.
1988 Michigan North Dakota Mich. State Mich. Tech
1987 Wisconsin Mich. State Michigan Mich. Tech
1986 Western Mich. Michigan Mich. State Mich. Tech
1985 Mich. State Rensselaer Michigan Mich. Tech
1984 Mich. State Mich. Tech Michigan Bowling Green
1983 Mich. State Mich. Tech Northern Mich. Michigan
1982 Mich. State Mich. Tech Michigan Notre Dame
1981 Notre Dame Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State
1980 Mich. Tech Michigan Mich. State Harvard
1979 Mich. Tech Michigan Wisconsin Mich. State
1978 Mich. Tech Ohio State Boston U. Michigan
1977 Mich. Tech Michigan Lake Superior St. Western Mich.
1976 Mich. Tech Michigan Brown Bowling Green
1975 Michigan Mich. Tech Boston U. Pennsylvania
1974 Mich. Tech Michigan Harvard Yale
1973 Mich. State Mich. Tech Boston Col. Pennsylvania
1972 Harvard Mich. Tech Boston U. Michigan
1971 Mich. Tech Mich. State Dartmouth Notre Dame
1970 Mich. Tech Michigan Colgate Brown
1969 UNH Mich. State Mich. Tech. Princeton
1968 Mich. Tech Wisconsin Mich. State Michigan
1967 North Dakota Mich. Tech Mich. State Western Ontario
1966 Michigan Mich. State Mich.Tech Western Ontario
1965 Toronto Mich. Tech Boston U. Colorado Col.

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