The 48th Great Lakes Invitational will be memorable in many ways. For the first time in 31 years, neither of the Big Ten schools of the tournament (Michigan and Michigan State) will be in the Championship game. How Western Michigan and Michigan Tech defeated those two were more history in itself, all in just one day.
In the first game, Western Michigan got an early lead against Michigan State on a Mike Cichy goal mid-way through the 1st period. Cichy threw a puck in on net from the goal-line, which hit Spartan goaltender Jake Hildebrand in the back and fell in. That score would hold up for the next 49 minutes until Matt Berry got a trickling puck on the back-side of the WMU net with 16 seconds left in the 3rd period to tie it up.
After both teams failed to score, the two teams went to a shoot-out, the first one in GLI History. The new format was implemented in 2008 for the first three games of the tournament, with the championship still repeating overtimes. Both goalies made 3 huge saves in the first three rounds. After a Jake Chelios miss, Andy Murray called on Mike Leone in the fourth round to hopefully end the game.
"When you're a little pee-wee hockey player, you're looking at the coach saying 'Pick me! Pick me! Put me on the ice," Bronco head coach Andy Murray said after the game. "Mike (Leone) kept looking at me (in the shootout) almost saying 'Are you crazy? Put me on the ice!' and I was smart enough to put him out there." Leone drilled a forehand shot past Hildebrand to win the shootout and send the Broncos into their 2nd straight GLI Championship game in as many appearances.
However, Murray also noted that his team shouldn't have been in that position.
"The goal at the end of the game. . . we have a 1-0 lead with 16 seconds left and they have the puck in the corner of the rink and they only have two guys in the offensive zone due to a change. That play has to be neutralized and that puck can't come out of the corner and surely it doesn't come near our net."
MSU head coach Tom Anastos was not happy with the format change, noting classic matches played in multiple OTs in previous tournaments.
"We know what the rules are. I would expect (the shootout) in (the consolation game) tomorrow, but not in a game where a team advances. We've had a lot of long overtime games in the GLI over the years here, and some of them were really classics too."
In the 2nd game, Michigan Tech goaltender Pheonix Copley "rose from the ashes" of a poor first half of the season to become only the 9th goaltender in GLI history to record a shutout in the tournament, with a 4-0 victory over the Michigan Wolverines. He stopped 38 shots and got a lot of help from his power-play unit and Alex Peta.
Petan, who was actually in the hospital to start the day with flu-like symptoms, scored two goals, including a seeming game-clinching breakaway goal in the 3rd period and Jujhar Khaira added a goal and two assists to put the Huskies in their first GLI Championship since 2007.
Now, Michigan and Michigan State will play in an all Big Ten consolation game at 3:30 pm with Michigan Tech and Western Michigan fighting for the MacInnes Cup at 7 pm. Both games will be carried on the Fox Sports Detroit network, with the championship game on Fox Sports Detroit PLUS due to time conflicts.