Great Lakes Invitational Preview

Site: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit

Friday-Saturday, Dec. 28-29, 2007

Participants: Providence, Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech

Game 1: Providence vs. Michigan, 4:35 p.m. ET

Providence Friars (6-6-2, 4-3-2 Hockey East)

Head coach: Tim Army

Leading scorers: Sr. Jon Rheault (8-8 — 16), Jr. Matt Taormina (5-11 — 16)

Leading netminder: Sr. Tyler Sims (5-5-1, 2.16 GAA, .917 SV%)

Michigan Wolverines (16-2-0, 11-1-0 CCHA)

Head coach: Red Berenson

Leading scorers: Sr. Kevin Porter (18-11 — 29), Sr. Chad Kolarik (12-12 — 24),

Leading netminder: Jr. Billy Sauer (14-2-0, 2.06 GAA, .915 SV%)

Game 2: Michigan State vs. Michigan Tech, 8:05 p.m. ET

Michigan State Spartans (12-3-2, 8-2-0 CCHA)

Head coach: Rick Comley

Leading scorers: Jr. Tim Kennedy (12-8 — 20), Jr. Matt Schepke (7-8 — 15), Sr. Bryan Lerg (8-6 — 14)

Leading netminder: Jr. Jeff Lerg (11-3-2, 2.48 GAA, .911 SV%)

Michigan Tech Huskies (6-8-2, 5-6-1 WCHA)

Head coach: Jamie Russell Leading scorers: Sr. Tyler Shelast (7-3 — 10), Sr. Peter Rouleau (4-5 — 9),

Leading netminder: Jr. Micheal-Lee Teslak (4-4-2, 1.72 GAA, .934 SV%)

Tournament Outlook

The 43rd annual Great Lakes Invitational welcomes its three traditional participants representing the state of Michigan as well as the Providence Friars. The Friars meet the No. 2 Wolverines in the first game, the third meeting all-time between the teams. Providence is riding a three-game win streak into the tournament, having finished the season with shutouts in two of those three contests. The Friars beat Vermont, 4-0, Dec. 1 and Brown, 8-0, Dec. 8, before wrapping up the first half with a 5-2 home win over Union. Senior Tyler Sims was the goalie of record for the back-to-back shutouts, and he’s the only goaltender to record consecutive blankings in Providence history — and he’s done so twice. The victory over Brown was his seventh career shutout. Junior Matt Taormina is tied with several players for second nationally in shorthanded goals (two) and leads the nation among defensemen in points per game. After starting the season with four straight losses, the Friars are 6-2-2 in their last 10 games.

No. 2 Michigan will be missing four players because of the IIHF World Junior Championship tournament for this year’s GLI. Freshmen forwards Max Pacioretty and Matt Rust and sophomore Chris Summers — who plays both forward and defense — are playing for Team USA, while freshman forward Carl Hagelin plays for Team Sweden. Pacioretty, UM’s fourth-leading scorer, is one-third of Michigan’s top line along with leading scorers Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik; Rust is fifth and Hagelin sixth among the Wolverine scoring leaders. Michigan has lost just two games this season, one early against Minnesota in the Ice Breaker title game (Oct. 13) and one late in league play at home against Ohio State (Nov. 30). Porter is the leading scorer in the nation, tied for first in goals per game (1.00) and leading all comers in power-play tallies (nine). The Wolverines have the second-best scoring offense in the country, averaging just over four goals per game, and the seventh-best defense nationally. UM is tied with arch-rival Michigan State for number of GLI tournament titles (11), and this is the Wolverines’ 38th appearance in the tourney.

No. 5 Michigan State is the defending GLI tournament champ as well as defending national champions. The Spartans are 41-24-1 all-time in the GLI; since 1997, Michigan State is the only traditional participant to win this midseason tourney. MSU’s 12-3-2 record in the first half is its best ever under sixth-year head coach Rick Comley and the best since 2001-02, the last of Ron Mason’s Spartan teams. MSU enters the tournament with a four-game win streak, its second-longest of the season. The Spartans wrapped up the first half with sweeps of Lake Superior State (Nov.30-Dec.1) and Ferris State (Dec. 7-8), three games of which were on the road. Those games followed a 0-2-2 stretch that included a pair of losses to No. 1 Miami and and ties against WCHA foes Wisconsin and Minnesota in the College Hockey Showcase at Thanksgiving. Junior Tim Kennedy is seventh in the nation in goals per game, he’s second in game-winning goals (five) and he’s tied with two other players nationally for power-play goals (seven). With a committee approach, the Spartans have the fourth-best scoring offense in the country, the sixth-best power play (22.9)…but the 48th-best penalty kill (79.7) and the 28th-best defense.

Michigan Tech has hosted the GLI since 1965. The Huskies have won the tournament nine times, last capturing the championship in 1980, and are 38-46-0 all-time in their tournament. The Huskies are 2-6-2 in their last 10 games, having finished the season with a split against Minnesota in Minneapolis (Nov. 30-Dec. 1) and a pair of home-and-home losses against Upper Peninsula rival Northern Michigan (Dec. 14-15), scoring just two goals in those last two contests and five in their last four. Junior goaltender Michael-Lee Teslak is one of the best in the nation; his 1.72 goals-against average is fourth in the country, while his save percentage (.934) is 10th. The MTU penalty kill is 14th-best nationally (87.1), but the Huskies’ offense is struggling, ranked 52nd in the country. Michigan Tech is 77-72-2 all-time against Michigan State but is 4-20-0 overall against MSU in the GLI.