Tag Archives: Michigan State

Our GLI Experience

College hockey is an amazing thing. I would go as far as describing it as the heart of the sport. The players aren’t out on the ice competing for a paycheck, but rather to support their teammates and represent the name on their sweaters. This past Monday and Tuesday, I was fortunate to attend the Great Lakes Invitational. I was reminded why I love college hockey and how it truly has a strong impact on higher levels of the game. Here is a quick recap of the two-day tournament:

Falcons Crash the Party

The Bowling Green Falcons were this year’s Great Lakes Invitational Champions. They achieved this by defeating Michigan in a close matchup Monday night, then by downing Michigan Tech 4-1 the following evening. Goals in the second game for the Falcons were provided by Brett D’Andrea, Connor Ford, John Schilling, and Tyler Spezia. Freshman goaltender Eric Dop played very well between the pipes in the final game, stopping 29-of-30 shots.

Tournament Team

The all-tournament team consisted of players from each of the four participants. Forwards included Lukas Craggs of Bowling Green, Cooper Marody from Michigan, and Patrick Khodorenko out of Michigan State. The defense corps were represented by Bowling Green’s Alec Rauhauser and Michigan Tech’s Mitch Reinke. Bowling Green goaltender Eric Dop rounded out the all-tournament team. Craggs was also slated as the tournament MVP, with two goals and three assists during that span.

Hockey in Michigan

Three of the four teams that participated in the invitational were from the Mitten State. Minnesota may proclaim themselves as the “State of Hockey,” but Michigan sure does have their own argument. All of these programs performed well and had bright spots in each of their games. The rosters themselves were made up of many players from Michigan, including eight on the roster of Bowling Green, the only out-of-state team in the tournament.

Little Caesars Arena

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see the NHL’s newest venue, you’re missing out. The design of the perimeter and concourse area make for a modern and clean look. There are several restaurants connected directly to the arena, which make for a great game day experience. At different points, we sat clear at the top, as well as right by the glass, and I don’t think there was a bad seat in the place. The décor was spot-on, filling the venue with rich history and tradition.

Michigan v. Michigan State

Ohio State may be Michigan’s rival in most sports, but in hockey, it’s their inter-state foMich-Ste, Michigan State. These two teams met in the consolation game, with the Wolverines taking a 6-4 decision. There was plenty of exciting action, including some pushing and shoving after the whistle. These two teams will meet again in the same location for a “Duel in the D” on Saturday, February 10th.

Falcon Momentum

After the New Year, the season has resumed for NCAA Hockey teams around the country. This is the most intriguing point in the season, where teams either stumble and miss the postseason, or they get a massive load of steam rolling forward. Momentum can be a crazing thing in sports. At the moment, the team that represents that is Bowling Green. Their players have a ton of confidence after winning this tournament as the “special invite” team. They face Ferris State in WCHA play this weekend.

Island of Misfit Toys

The second-place Michigan Tech Huskies might have lost the tournament they were hosting, but their supportive fan base surely liftMichiganTeched their spirits. Shout-out to Mitch’s Misfits and their pep band for a great tournament. Even in an NHL facility, they could be heard. At one point, it’s almost certain they were shouting “Go Tech” for two or three minutes straight. Keep those lungs rested and best of luck the rest of the year.

Jeopardy Question

Who raised the first banner in Little Caesars Arena? Well, that would be the Bowling Green Falcons. It was joke on the car ride home that in technicality, the Red Wings won’t be able to say they raised the first banner in their own area. The Great Lakes Invitational banner was lowered after the game and raised following the ceremonies.

Dreams Come True

Although the NCAA is a great pool for the NHL to pick through, not all players have the talent to make it at the next level. This event was an opportunity for some lower-tier players to skate in a game on NHL ice and live out their dreams. One thing that makes the GLI so special is the relationship with the Detroit Red Wings, who have loaned out their home ice since the beginning of the tournament. Seeing the smiles on players’ faces was like watching kids in a candy store, as they scratched an item off their bucket lists.

GLI Day 1: WCHA Bests the Big Ten

In the opening round of the Great Lakes Invitational, two WCHA teams took on two squads from the Big Ten. As is traditional, Michigan Tech, Michigan State, and Michigan were all participants in the tournament, while Bowling Green was the final team invited to compete at Little Caesars Arena.

In game one, the Huskies of Houghton squared off against Michigan State. Michigan Tech entered the competition with a 9-7-5 record, while the opposition maintained an 8-9-1 mark on the season.

First Period –

After the drop of the puck, action was fairly evenly matched. Entering into a Michigan State man advantage towards the end of the period, the score was 0-0. As the final seconds of the penalty ticked away, Zach Osburn made a heads-up play and threw a quick shot on net. Robbie Beydoun got a piece of the puck, but it skipped by him for the first goal of the game.

Second Period –

The middle frame of the game was a lot more offensive-minded. Alex Smith evened the score at 2:04 after a shot deflected off of his skate. Referees reviewed the play, but determined there was no kicking motion. Moments later, Jake Lucchini earned the lead for the Huskies. He took a pass from Alex Gillies and ripped a shot past John Lethemon for his 6th goal of the season. Michigan Tech wasn’t done yet, as Gillies would earn a goal of his own to extend the lead. He found himself alone in front of the net and backhanded a shot that found twine. During the closing minutes of the period, Michigan State’s Patrick Khodorenko made a nice play to make it a one-goal game entering the final frame.

Third Period –

MichiganTechThe last twenty minutes of the game was all Michigan Tech, as they skated to a victory. The Huskies earned a penalty shot taken by Dylan Steman, but the shot was turned aside by Lethemon. Although the Spartans gained some momentum from the big stop, they were deflated by a goal from Gavin Gould that extended their deficit to 4-2. Late in the period, Jake Jackson buried the empty-netter, solidifying a 5-2 win for Michigan Tech. The final shot count was 32-31 in favor of the Spartans.

During the evening contest, Bowling Green battled against Michigan. The Falcons entered the contest at 8-6-6, while the Wolverines were 7-7-2.

First Period –

The opening frame was controlled by Bowling Green, as they tallied two makers for the lead. Tyler Spezia grabbed a lose puck and sent a back-door shot past Jack LaFontaine for the game’s opening goal. Moment later, Justin Wells sent a harmless wrister on net that found its way past LaFontaine for the 2-0 lead.

Second Period –

Bowling Green continued to keep up the pressure right out of the gate. Just fifteen seconds into the period, Lukas Craggs extended the lead to 3-0. At 3:39 of the second stanza, Connor McDonald found a rebound and slid it past LaFontaine to grow the Falcon’s lead. Craggs earned his second point of the night on that play. Michigan’s Jake Slaker was able to stop the bleeding, as he got the Wolverine’s on the board on his breakaway opportunity.

Third Period –

The final frame of the game is where things got a bit interesting. Slaker gets his second of the night to make it a 4-2 game. The Wolverines used that momentum to carry the play for much of the third period, but that ended when facing a crucial penalty kill. BGSUMax Johnson placed a perfect shot over the shoulder of LaFontaine to regain the three-goal lead. Just 25 seconds later, Tony Calderone crashed the Falcon’s crease to make it a 5-3 game. Then, Jack Becker earned his first career goal to make it a one-goal affair. Bednard took Becker’s shot up high, but it floated over his shoulder and rolled into the net. Play would remain back-and-forth for the final few minutes until Michigan pulled their netminder. Craggs shot one into the empty net to end the game 6-4.

In day two of the invitational, Michigan State will take on Michigan, while Bowling Green and Michigan Tech faceoff for the GLI title.

2018 Great Lakes Invitational

Well Down the Frozen River fans, it’s time to turn the page to 2018. We will be ringing in the new year with full coverage of the 53rd edition of the Great Lakes Invitational

The four-team college hockey tournament will see Michigan, Michigan State, Michigan Tech, and Bowling Green battle it out for the mid-season honor. Although the Huskies are the hosting party, Little Caesars Arena will act as the neutral location for all participants.

The tournament was created in 1965 and first played in Olympia Stadium. Over the years, the venue has changed, but has remained located in Detroit, Michigan. The event is intended to portray the talents of college hockey in Michigan and the surrounding area.

As we prepare for the opening of the two-day event, we wanted to tell you how you can follow along. Be sure to check us out on Twitter (@DTFrozenRiver), where we will bring you live, in-game coverage of all the action. Game recaps and other updates will posted over the next couple days. You can also expect a complete photo gallery, including Little Caesars Arena, for fans who have not experienced the NHL’s newest facility.

Puck Drop-

Michigan Tech v. Michigan State (1/1, 2:30 p.m.)

Michigan v. Bowling Green (1/1, 6:00 p.m.)

*Games 3 and 4 will be played on 1/2 at 2:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.

NCAA Weekly Match-Up, 10/20/17

And here they come again… (Fort Wayne Komets fans out there will understand the reference)

NCAA Hockey teams are at the early point in the year, where these games can either make or break their seasons. Last week, we saw Minnesota State pull off a huge, upset sweep of Boston University. The Terriers appeared to be the better of the two teams, but the Mavericks proved once again that they are reloaded and ready for a big year. This week, we take a look at two teams who are trying to silence the critics and prove they can be successful on the ice. It’s an in-state rivalry matchup, as Western Michigan takes on Michigan State!

Western Michigan Broncos v. Michigan State Spartans

Game Details –

Friday, 10/20/17 and Saturday, 10/21/17

7:05pm (ET) and 7:05pm (ET)

Munn Ice Area (East Lansing, MI) and Lawson Ice Arena (Kalamazoo, MI)

Game Preview –

The Michigan State Spartans are coming off a fairly good weekend against Bowling Green, as they salvaged a split in the series. On Friday night, the Spartans got off to a very rough start, as the Falcons of Bowling Green put three pucks past goaltender Ed Minney in a three-minute span. After John Lethemon entered the game to guard the Spartan’s crease, the teams skated to a 4-1 decision. Saturday night was a much different script, as Michigan State was able to push the pace of play and score one goal in each period, earning a 3-2 win over Bowling Green. This gives the Green and White a 1-1 record on the year.Michigan State

During this series, Michigan State proved they are capable of generating scoring chances, but their goaltending seems to be up for debate. Giving up six goals in a series isn’t horrible, but it’s also not ideal for a team that only mustered four offensive tallies over the weekend. Goal differential can be a critical statistic, especially if neither your goaltending nor your offense is stellar. Western Michigan will be a good test for the Spartans, as they look to turn the corner and show improvement from their previous season. Last year’s 7-24-4 overall record, with only three conference wins, was a big disappointment for their program. If they can’t get the ball rolling early, they may find themselves being at the bottom of the Big Ten yet again.

Western Michigan, a team arguably under-performing so far on the season, will look to get back to business this weekend. A 2-2-1 record through five games is not what the Broncos had hoped for, but two big wins over an in-state rival could be a potential momentum swing. Western Michigan started out with two of three wins against WCHA opponents, but hit a big road block against Clarkson this past weekend. Don’t underestimate your opponents, kids; they may just derail your season. Now, derail is strong word choice, but the win-less weekend against the Golden Knights (if you wondered why Las Vegas ran into licensing trouble, here’s your answer) was less than ideal. NCAA teams only have about 35 games on the schedule, so every one counts. This will surely be the mantra of the Broncos as they take on the Spartans.

The Western Michigan roster is filled with quality players that know how to win games. CurWestern Michiganrently, there are three skaters playing at a point-per-game pace. Although not sustainable, they need their leaders to continue this scoring. In net, there really isn’t a question as to who the Broncos lean on. Ben Blacker has played in all five games so far this season, giving up a total of ten goals against. His 1.98 GAA is already an improvement from his freshman campaign. Keep an eye on this goalie and how he responds to fulltime starting duties.

As former CCHA rivals, these teams have pride on the line. A home-and-home series will help decide which of them takes a stride forward and which one takes a few steps back.

Players to Watch-

Western Michigan – Junior Forward, Colt Conrad; Sophomore Defensemen, Cam Lee; Sophomore Goalie, Ben Blacker

Michigan State – Sophomore Forward, Taro Hirose; Sophomore Forward, Patrick Khodorenko; Junior Forward, Cody Milan

A Beginner’s Guide to NCAA Hockey; 2017-2018 Season Preview

The NCAA Hockey season is upon us once again. The cries of “Is it October yet?” have almost been answered. Many teams will begin playing exhibition games this weekend and their seasons will officially drop the puck one week later. College hockey, or #cawlidgehawkey if you want to be like John Buccigross, is becoming an increasingly deep source of professional prospects. Although playing in Major Juniors still seems to be the predominant route to the NHL, collegiate players are no joke. If you don’t believe me, let’s take a look at this quick list:

Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Brian Dumoulin, Jake Guentzel, Carl Hagelin, Phil Kessel, Chris Kunitz, Bryan Rust, Justin Schultz and Conor Sheary

If you haven’t figured this one out yet, these are all former NCAA Hockey players who have become Stanley Cup Champions with the Pittsburgh Penguins (many of them more than once).

Even if you don’t follow along with college-level puck, check your NHL squad’s roster and I would almost guarantee a few players have come out of the NCAA. The developmental AHL and ECHL are also filled with former college hockey players trying to work their way up the ladder.

If you’re not into NCAA Hockey, it’s totally understandable. There are six different leagues, 60 different teams and over 1,200 individual players (and that’s just at the D-1 level). It may be difficult to dive into at first, but I can assure you it is worth your while. If you want to see grit, speed, talent and passion for the game of hockey all wrapped into one, attend any NCAA game.

Whether this is your first rodeo with college hockey or if you have been around the block a few times, the 2017-2018 season is about to begin. Here is a season preview for the upcoming campaign, which highlights each of the six leagues, as well as lists my predictions for the regular season champions of each organization. Read, enjoy and drop that puck!

Atlantic Hockey

Teams – AIC, Air Force, Army, Bentley, Canisius, Holy Cross, Mercyhurst, Niagara, RIT and Robert Morris

Without putting it bluntly, Atlantic Hockey has struggled since its 2004 founding. They are largely undeveloped unlike many other NCAA Hockey leagues, and many of the teams in this league haven’t been able to find much success – especially against out-of-conference opponents.

That being said, there is typically one team every year that appears to be poised to make a good run. This year, that is likely to be either Robert Morris or Air Force. Both squads return quality players and will try to build upon the growth they showed during the previous season. The Colonials will return team leader Brady Ferguson, who put up an impressive stat line of 24-34-58 last year. Meanwhile, Air Force earned a spot in the preseason polls, coming in at 17th. Although this is a positive sign, they will have to prove their worth when the puck drops.

Preseason Favorite – Air Force Falcons

Big10

Teams – Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin

The Big Ten Conference is still very new to the NCAA Hockey scene, but it has already shown signs of success. After Penn State made the decision to form a D-1 hockey program, the Big Ten decided it was time to flex its muscles a bit and commit to creating a private league for its member universities. Although it was a shame to see the CCHA disband, it was seemingly bound to happen eventually.

This league boasts historic programs such as Michigan, Michigan State and Minnesota, but the past isn’t worth more than memories (we don’t need to talk about all of the championships they have won… it’s a lot). This year, the Big Ten Conference will attempt to prove they are a dominate group among the NCAA. With Notre Dame joining as an affiliate member, the league now has seven teams. Five of those seven teams earned preseason rankings in the top 20, with Minnesota coming in at number three. Could this be the year a National Champion is crowned out of the Big Ten?

Preseason Favorite – Penn State Nittany Lions

ECAC

Teams – Brown, Clarkson, Colgate, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, Princeton, Quinnipiac, RPI, St. Lawrence, Union and Yale

ECAC Hockey (also referred to as the smarty-pants schools) has been able to stay in the spotlight over the past several years. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t too long ago that Union and Yale hoisted the NCAA Championship in back-to-back years. Cornell, Harvard and Quinnipiac are always strong contenders, while the other schools in the league are respectful in their own right.

It will be interesting to see how well Harvard recharges the batteries after facing key losses this offseason. Graduated seniors Tyler Moy and Alex Kerfoot both chipped in 45 points last season, with the remaining 2017 grads collectively contributing 41 goals, which is a lot of firepower to replace internally. With that said, Harvard should still compete well, but other conference opponents could take advantage of any offensive woes.

Preseason Favorite – Quinnipiac Bobcats

HockeyEast

Teams – Boston College, Boston University, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, UMass-Lowell, Merrimack, New Hampshire, Northeastern, Providence and Vermont 

Hockey East Association once again enters the season with very high expectations. They have two teams, Boston University and UMass-Lowell, ranked in the top-five of the preseason poll. Hockey East is a conference that has and will continue to put quality programs in the mix for an NCAA Championship. Many consider this to be the best conference in college hockey, but the emergence of the NCHC has provided some stiff competition.

Make no mistake, Hockey East is still an amazingly talented league. Boston College, Boston University and Providence alone have combined for five championships over the past ten years. The demographics of college hockey are simply changing and other parts of the country, such as Denver and North Dakota, are seeing great success. We will see how this impacts Hockey East teams down the road, but for now, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Preseason Favorite – Boston University Terriers

NCHC

Teams – Colorado College, Denver, Miami, Minnesota-Duluth, North Dakota, Omaha, St. Cloud State and Western Michigan

As a college hockey fan, you either love the NCHC or you hate it. One way or the other, you must recognize the level of talent they acquired when they emerged as an NCAA Hockey league. They have five teams represented in the preseason poll, with Denver taking home top honors (if you consider a preseason ranking an honor). They have also brought home two NCAA Championships in as many years courtesy of Denver and North Dakota.

To put it simply, these teams are good.

No, they are great. There is no tip-toeing around the subject. The NCHC did exactly what they set out to do, which was create the most highly skilled, competitive and talented league in the NCAA. Are they the best? That is up for you as a fan to decide, but their early body of work speaks for itself. Keep an eye on the National Collegiate Hockey Conference to see if their master plan will continue to be a success or if they will take a step back this season.

Preseason Favorite – Denver Pioneers

WCHA_2

Teams – Alabama-Huntsville, Alaska, Alaska-Anchorage, Bemidji State, Bowling Green, Ferris State, Lake Superior State, Michigan Tech, Minnesota State and Northern Michigan

Last, but certainly not least, the Western Collegiate Hockey Conference. As a graduate of Bowling Green State University, I can assure you I am very well-rounded in my knowledge of this league. The WCHA is probably one of the most divided leagues in the NCAA. Any given season, Ferris State, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State are prepared to make strong postseason runs. Other teams in the league, such as Bowling Green, have the potential, but have never taken a serious step forward. On the other side of the coin, both Alaskan schools continually struggle and Alabama-Huntsville is still trying to turn in a successful season after their move to the D-1 level.

The last time a current member of the WCHA won a national championship was Lake Superior back in 1994… I don’t want to upset Lake Superior fans, but they are not the team they once were. Then again, you could say the same for Bowling Green, Ferris State, or Northern Michigan. I have a soft spot for the WCHA and hopefully a few of the teams at the top can regain some national prominence for the entire league.

Preseason Favorite – Minnesota State Mavericks