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College Hockey:
Great Lakes Invitational

Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Dec. 27-28

Boston College vs. Michigan, 2:30 ET Saturday
Michigan Tech vs. Michigan State, 6:05 ET Saturday
Consolation, 12:35 ET Sunday
Championship, 4:05 ET Sunday

Television: All games on Fox Sports Detroit (DirecTV Ch. 636).

Boston College

Players to Watch: F Ben Eaves, Sr. (3-18–21); F Tony Voce, Sr. (14-6–20); G Matti Kaltiainen, Jr. (11-2-3, 1.90, .895).

Noteable: The Eagles have played the last two games with no injured players, something that has not happened since the season opener at Vermont. … BC is outscoring its opponents 23-8 in the first period. … Pat Eaves will miss this tournament in favor of the World Juniors. … Boston College was last invited as the third GLI participant in 2000, when it won the consolation game over Michigan. … The Eagles’ defense is third in the nation, allowing 2.06 goals-per-game. The penalty killing is ranked second in the nation. … Boston College coach Jerry York is No. 2 in all-time wins among active coaches, behind Boston University’s Jack Parker. Michigan State’s Rick Comley is No. 3, and Michigan’s Red Berenson is No. 4. By contrast, Michigan Tech’s Jamie Russell is in his first year as head coach.

No. 8 Michigan (11-6-1)

Players to Watch: F T.J. Hensick, Fr. (7-11–18); F Eric Nystrom, Jr. (6-6–12).

Noteable: The Wolverines, a preseason Frozen Four favorite, got off to a quick start against a lighter schedule, but has struggled recently as the schedule improved. Part of that was a sweep at the hands of surging Wisconsin and Minnesota during the College Hockey Showcase. … Michigan will be without standout goaltender Al Montoya, who is part of the U.S. World Junior team. Sophomore Jeff Tambellini, a preseason all-America candidate who has struggled somewhat (9-3–12), will be the only collegian on Team Canada. Freshman defenseman Matt Hunwick was a late addition to the U.S. team. … The Wolverines won nine straight GLIs from 1988-96, but hasn’t won one since. … Sophomore Noah Ruden makes his first career start in place of Montoya in net.

Michigan State (9-8-1)

Players to Watch: F Jim Slater, Jr. (10-14–24); F Mike Lalonde, Jr. (12-9–21); D A.J. Thelen, Fr. (3-10–13).

Noteable: Freshman goaltender Dominic Vicari has emerged as the team’s No. 1 goalie, but he will miss the tournament in favor of the World Juniors. Sophomore forward David Booth and sophomore defenseman Corey Potter will also play for Team USA. … The Spartans feature just one senior, defenseman Joe Markusen. … The Spartans have been a regular participant of the tournament since 1979. They last won four straight from 1997-2000. … Mike Lalonde leads the team with 12 goals, one short of his career best. … Michigan State has scored just four goals in its last four games. … The penalty kill has been a sore spot, at just 74 percent. … Freshman forward Tommy Goebel is the national leader for points by a rookie with 19. Overall, he ranks fifth in the country in points-per-game among rookies (1.06). … Jim Slater is fifth in the nation in scoring, and is a +17.

Michigan Tech (3-9–4)

Players to Watch: F Colin Murphy, Jr. (13-11–24); F Chris Conner, Soph. (13-8–21).

Noteable: Freshman defenseman Lars Helminen is the brother of Michigan’s Dwight Helminen. … Chris Conner and Colin Murphy are both tied for third nationally in goals-per-game (0.81). … MTU is led by junior forward Colin Murphy, sophomore forward Chris Conner and freshman forward Taggart Desmet (5-9–14). The trio have accounted for 59 points in 16 games, or 47 percent of the team’s point production. … The head coach of the Huskies is Jamie Russell, a former defenseman for Tech. He was most recently an assistant coach at Cornell. … Conner is among the nation’s leaders in shorthanded goals with three.

Quoteable

Boston College coach Jerry York: “It’s a great venue. They call themselves Hockeytown, USA, and they’ve got a great claim to that title. They really support college hockey and pro hockey in the area. We
look forward to it. I think it will be two good days. We try to get in tournaments that will mean something if you win them, and this is certainly one of them. It would mean something to us.

Michigan State coach Rick Comley: “You’re always worried about how you’re going to start the second half. You look forward to the break, but you’re always concerned your team is going to fall too far out of shape. But this is a good tournament to get us going. It’s in an NHL building, and it’s great exposure for our kids, so you know you’re going to have a lot of excitement. The kids look forward to it. … It’s been a terrible year for injuries for us. We have not had a full lineup yet for any game … Maybe the break has helped everyone get better, mentally and physically.”

Michigan Tech coach Jamie Russell: “The GLI is very important to the university. There’s a tremendous amount of alumni in the Detroit area. we have great support at the tournament. … It’s important we do well at the GLI. We need to use it as a springboard. … You have to get up for the GLI. It’s the premiere tournament in the nation, at Joe Louis Arena, with 18,000 people. The kids are excited to play in that atmosphere.”

Comley: “We haven’t seen [Michigan Tech] this year, but they have a new coach and lots of enthusiasm, and you know they always play well in this tournament. This is their highlight event of the year … And we know they have one great line, [Chris] Conner’s line. People have said that’s the line you have to watch. They’re very dynamic and dangerous.”

York: “[With the long layoff], I think we’re all in the same boat. The alternative is to keep everybody through Christmas, and that just is not feasible from our standpoint, and most coaches agree with that. You know, short shifts, conditioning’s a big factor. No matter how much they try to stay in shape at home, it’s not the same. We just try to stay away from what we call ‘holiday-type hockey’ where you’re just brushing off checks and not playing as intense as you are in the January/February part of your schedule later on. So I think constant reminders about short shifts and keeping the game as simple as we can.”

Analysis: This is one of the nation’s premiere tournaments, both in history, and the makeup of the field. It includes two teams that are among the favorites to reach the Frozen Four, and two other historic programs. Having the inexperienced Ruden in net for what could be two big games for Michigan is just one of those things Michigan has to deal with, since it loses big names for this tournament every year. The same can be said for everyone except Michigan Tech, but that probably isn’t enough for the Huskies to overcome the power of the other three. Michigan State is in better shape with the junior Matt Migliaccio in goal. Boston College is playing the best hockey, but this is the Michigan tournament and the big Joe Louis Arena crowd will be against the Eagles. These games could have major NCAA implications, so it’s too bad so many big players will be missing. Don’t bet against the Eagles.


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