The 49th annual Great Lakes Invitational will be held outdoors, on the field of Detroit's Comerica Park this Friday and Saturday, as part of the festivities surrounding the NHL's Winter Classic. The event was originally supposed to take place at Comerica Park last season, but was canceled after the NHL Lockout prevented the Winter Classic from taking place. As a result, Western Michigan is back for the second straight year, joining tournament regulars Michigan Tech, Michigan, and MIchigan State.
For the first tie since 1981, Michigan Tech comes into the tournament as the reigning GLI champions. They'll begin their title defense in the Friday's first game against Michigan State, which is scheduled to start at 3:30 EST. Michigan Tech already swept the Spartans earlier this season in Houghton.
The second semifinal, scheduled for 7:00pm, will feature Michigan taking on Western Michigan. The Wolverines come into the tournament missing captain Andrew Copp, who is playing for the US World Junior team. JT Compher and Tyler Motte were also expected to be with the US team, but were sent home due to health concerns. However, reports from this past week have indicated that there is the possibility of both being healthy enough to skate for the Wolverines in the GLI. Western Michigan comes into the GLI with a somewhat disappointing 7-8-3 oveall record, and looking to jumpstart their team for a second half run.
The two losers of Friday's semifinals will meet in the consolation game at 3:30 Saturday, with the two winners playing for the championship at 7:00 Saturday. Friday's two semifinals will be broadcast on Fox Spots Detroit+. Saturday's third place game will be televised on Fox Sports Detroit, and the championship game will be streamed online by Fox Sports Detroit.
Weather is always a factor with outdoor hockey games, and so far, the forecast looks as good as can be for Friday's games. Temperatures are forecasted in the low-30s, which is a little high, but the ice surface should hold up, especially if the sky is partly cloudy, as expected. There is also no snow forecasted either. Saturday could be slightly dicier for the consolation game, with temperatures expected in the upper-30s and sunshine. Temperatures should drop a little as the sun goes down for the championship game.