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50th annual GLI less than a month away

by Alex DiFilippo / Detroit Red Wings
DETROIT – The ‘College Hockey in the D’ schedule is set to begin in less than a month, as the 50th Anniversary of the Great Lakes Invitational gets underway on Sunday, Dec. 28 and Monday, Dec. 29 at Joe Louis Arena. For only the 12th time in the tournament’s history, four Michigan-based schools will descend upon Hockeytown for a two-day, single-elimination tournament that has become a holiday tradition for sports fans in southeast Michigan for half a century. Event host Michigan Tech, along with mainstays Michigan and Michigan State, will once again be competing for the MacInnes Cup this year. Special invitee Ferris State is set to participate in the tournament for the first time.

The four-team tournament starts with a doubleheader matchup on Sunday, Dec. 28 between Michigan Tech and Michigan at 3:30 p.m. and Michigan State and Ferris State at 7:00 p.m. The winners of those contests will advance to the championship game on Monday, Dec. 29 at 7:00 p.m., while the other two teams will meet in the third-place game at 3:30 p.m. on the same day. All four games of the GLI will be televised live on FOX Sports Detroit Plus.

The host school for the GLI since its inception 50 years ago, Michigan Technological University (WCHA) has claimed the MacInnes Cup 10 times in the tournament’s history, most recently in 2012. The Huskies are currently ranked No. 5 in the country with a 12-2-0 record and are coming off a weekend sweep of Alabama-Huntsville. After starting the season unranked in the preseason poll, the Huskies held the No. 1 ranking in the country in mid-November after getting off to the program’s best start in its 94-year history with a perfect 10-0-0 record.

"The GLI is a very special tournament, not only for me, but I think for Michigan Tech and all of our fans in general,” said Michigan Tech head coach Mel Pearson. “It gives us an opportunity to showcase our team to a lot of our alumni down in southeast lower Michigan that don’t have a chance to come up to the Upper Peninsula to see us play. It’s one of the, if not the, premier college hockey tournaments in the country. It’s played in a great venue with a lot of history and with very good teams in Michigan, Michigan State and Ferris State this year."

The University of Michigan (Big Ten) leads the field with 15 GLI championships and has participated in the tournament in 45 of the 50 seasons. The Wolverines last won the GLI in 2011, capping four MacInnes Cup championships in five years (2007-11). Michigan’s roster features 10 players already selected in the NHL Entry Draft – the most in the field – including Dylan Larkin, the Red Wings’ first-round pick (15th overall) in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Michigan currently owns a 7-6-0 record after a weekend sweep of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at home.

"We are excited to return to Joe Louis Arena for the 50th Great Lakes Invitational," said Michigan head coach Red Berenson. "The GLI has always been one of the highlights of the college hockey season. We're looking forward to our trip to Detroit for a milestone year in tournament history."

This year will mark Michigan State University’s (Big Ten) 35th consecutive appearance in the GLI. The Spartans have secured 12 MacInnes Cups in 40 GLI appearances, the second-most titles of any team. The Spartans’ last tournament title came in 2009 with a 6-1 victory over Rensselaer. Backstopped by goaltender Jake Hildebrand, who has started all 13 games for the Spartans this season and leads the Big Ten with 330 saves, Michigan State (5-8-0) will welcome No. 6 Minnesota to East Lansing for a pair of Big Ten tilts this weekend.

“The GLI is of one of the great traditions in college hockey and it’s something we look forward to as a program each season,” said Michigan State head coach Tom Anastos. “The tournament has provided great memories for both our players and fans over the years and we’re privileged to be a part of it.”

After an extremely successful 2013-14 campaign, Ferris State University (WCHA) enters the Great Lakes Invitational for the first time in the history of the tournament. Last year, the Bulldogs won the WCHA regular season championship in the team’s debut season in the league, reached the WCHA Final Five Championship game and came within one victory of reaching the NCAA Frozen Four for the second time in three years. Ferris State’s roster also sports the most Michigan natives in the tournament, with 18 players hailing from the Mitten State. Currently, the Bulldogs own a 7-7-1 record on the season.

“With such a large number of players from the state of Michigan who grew up watching and attending the GLI, we have a keen understanding of the history and prestige that this tournament represents,” said Ferris State head coach Bob Daniels. “It will be exciting for our players, alums, administration and fans. We all look forward with great anticipation to our inaugural appearance in the GLI. It is also a tremendous opportunity for our program to play in Detroit where we have such great alumni support and at such a historic venue as Joe Louis Arena.”

Individual tickets for the 50th anniversary of the Great Lakes Invitational, along with the Michigan vs. Michigan State game on Jan. 30 and the Big Ten Tournament from March 19-21, are now on sale at the JLA Box Office (313-471-7575), all Ticketmaster (800-745-3000) outlets, and online at www.OlympiaEntertainment.com.

Little Caesars Family Four Packs are also available for the GLI, featuring four tickets, four slices of pizza or hot dogs and four soft drinks, starting at $44 per day. Additionally, group rates for 10 or more tickets and student rates are available for all ‘College Hockey in the D’ events.

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