Great Lakes Invitational
Louis Arena • Detroit
Providence vs. Michigan, 4:35 p.m.
Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 8:05 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 29
Third-place Game, 4:05 p.m.
Championship Game, 7:35 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Net Detroit will have live
coverage of all four GLI games.
Michigan State won the GLI for the second
time in three years, beating Harvard, 5-2, in the
opening round and topping Michigan, 4-1, in the championship
match. The Wolverines downed Michigan Tech, 4-1, in
its first-round contest. The Huskies dropped a 3-2
decision to Harvard in the third-place game.
Forward Bryan Lerg, with three goals
and three assists in two games, was named tournament
MVP. His cousin, Michigan State goaltender Jeff Lerg,
earned all-tournament honors by stopping 66 of 69
shots he faced, including 45 saves in the 5-2 win
This tournament, once solely the domain
of Michigan-based teams — from 1973 to 2000,
Notre Dame (1981) and Wisconsin (1987) were the only
schools from outside the Great Lake State to win the
GLI. Since 2001, however, four of the six GLI champions
have been imports (North Dakota, Boston University,
Boston College, and Colorado College).
Losing players to the World Junior Championships
has crippled Michigan's efforts in the past and the
Wolverines are without four regulars for this year's
GLI, but Red Berenson's two top weapons — senior
forwards Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik, both among
the country's leading scorers — aren't among
those in absentia. Add in high-scoring freshman Aaron
Palushaj, shutdown defenseman Mark Mitera, and vastly
improved goalie Billy Sauer, and U-M has the pieces
to win its first GLI title since 1996. Then there's
Providence, making its first GLI appearance. The Friars
are led by senior forward Jon Rheault and junior defenseman
Matt Taormina, both of whom have 16 points through
14 games. Taormina leads Hockey East blueliners in
scoring. Senior Tyler Sims (2.16 GAA, .917 save pct.)
has been the main man in goal.
Michigan State, naturally, would like
to return to the winners circle. Junior forward Tim
Kennedy has been superb for the Spartans this season.
His 20 points leads a balanced MSU scoring attack,
as State has nine players with 11 or more points.
And in Jeff Lerg, MSU boasts perhaps the game's top
big-game goalie. Michigan Tech, meanwhile, hasn't
won the GLI since 1981. The Huskies' hopes are likely
tied to the play of junior goaltender Michael-Lee
Teslak, who ranks fourth in the nation with a 1.72
goals against average; his .934 save percentage is
the country's 10th best mark in that category.
HOW WE SEE IT
We're all aware of what Michigan is
capable of, but don't discount Providence. The Friars,
who started the season with four straight losses,
are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, have scored four
or more goals in five of their last seven outings,
and have attempted 28 or more shots on goal in 13
of their first 14 outings. Providence also boasts
the nation's fourth-best power play with a 24.6 percent
success rate and a penalty kill that ranks among the
top 20 in the country at 86.9 percent -- and only
Notre Dame has more shorthanded goals than the Friars'
six. Providence can win if it can keep the offensive
pressure on the Wolverines and get to Sauer early,
win the special teams battle, and Sims turns in a
quality effort. That said,
Porter has been virtually unstoppable this season.
impresses the fans at Joe Louis Arena, but Michigan
One of these years, Michigan Tech will
break through and win the GLI. But it's not going
to be this year. Though Michigan State has a reputation
(a deserved one) of inconsistency, the Spartans have
too much depth at forward to be denied. Expect MSU
to handle the goal-starved Huskies to set up a Michigan-Michigan
State finale. And though it seems the Spartans have
played Seinfeld to the Wolverines' Newman in recent
years, Michigan is due. They'll take down MSU in the
championship match by following the lead of tournament
— Mike Eidelbes