All of Michigan's Division I teams are in action this week all across North America.
Michigan and Michigan State will travel to Joe Louis Arena in Detroit to compete in the 41st annual Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29-30, along with co-host Michigan Tech and invite Colorado College. The two semifinal games on Dec. 29, and the third-place and championship games on Dec. 30 will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net Detroit. Michigan State pulled double-duty to capture the tourney title last year, defeating New Hampshire in the semifinals, 4-3, and Michigan, 2-1, with both games going in overtime.
The Wolverines have won the GLI 11 times, and have a 7-6-1 GLI record against MSU to go with a 16-10-0 advantage over the Huskies. CC and Michigan have never met at the GLI, but the Maize and Blue hold a 57-35-3 record against the Tigers all-time. The Spartans have won the tournament 10 times, and sport a 72-77-2 record all-time against MTU and a 33-44-1 record against CC. Michigan will be without four of its regular skaters for the GLI. Defensemen Jack Johnson and Mark Mitera and forward Kevin Porter will be skating for Team USA at the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship, while forward Andrew Cogliano will be playing for Team Canada. The Spartans will look to senior Colton Fretter to lead the charge. He scored three of the Spartans six tallies during the 2004 tournament.
Michigan Tech split with Minnesota State at home Dec. 16-17.
Fresh off of their meeting in Marquette, Mich., on Dec. 17-18, Northern Michigan and Western Michigan will play in the Badger Showdown in Madison, Wis., with the `Cats playing Wayne State and the Broncos battling Wisconsin on Dec. 30, with the two schools facing the prospect of playing each other on Dec. 31. The Badgers hold a 9-4-1 record over WMU, and a 41-22-5 record against NMU, while Wayne State has never played WMU and never beaten NMU, losing all four meetings with the `Cats. If the two teams end up playing on the second night, it will be the third of five meetings between the two schools in seven weeks.
Northern Michigan, who will be without head coach Walt Kyle, leading Team USA in Vancouver at the World Junior Championship, last played in the Badger Showdown during the 2002-03 season, beating Harvard, 3-2, and losing to Wisconsin 3-1. The Broncos haven't competed in a holiday tournament since 2001, when they played in the Mariucci Classic. WMU has won seven classic titles, and have a 26-18-2 all-time record in holiday tournaments.
In three previous holiday tournament appearances, WSU has placed first once (2000 UConn/SNET Classic) and second twice (2002 Rensselaer and 2003 North Dakota Subway Classic). The Warriors swept visiting Merrimack College (3-2, 6-5 OT) on Dec. 9-10 at the Michigan State Fairgrounds Coliseum in their last games before exams and the holiday break.
Ferris State, which won the past two Badger Showdowns, changes this year's holiday itinerary by traveling west to play in the Wells Fargo Denver Cup on Dec. 30-31. The Bulldogs open the tournament by playing Boston College and will then face either Princeton or Denver the following night. FSU has only played Boston College and Providence once each, losing both match-ups, and have never played Denver. Both of the New Year's Eve games will be telecast on Fox Sports Net Rocky Mountain.
Lake Superior State heads north of the border to compete in the TBAYtel Varsity Cup Tournament at Lakehead University Dec. 28-31. The Lakers will play Lakehead University for the first time since November 16, 1987, with an all-time record of 23-6-2, and will be playing Calgary and St. Francis Xavier for the first time ever. The tournament marks the first time LSSU has competed in a holiday tournament since winning the Sheraton/Howard Bank Hockey Classic in 2001-02. These games will all count as exhibition contests for the Lakers.