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The Great Lakes Invitational tournament began in 1965 with Michigan Tech as the host team. The Huskies were the only Michigan-based team that participated that year. At least three of the four teams that have participated each year since the 1979 tournament have been Michigan-based Division I men’s teams. The champion is awarded the MacInnes Cup.

The 2013 edition of the tournament was unique in that it took place outdoors at Comerica Park in Detroit. It was held the final weekend in December and included four Michigan teams: Michigan Tech, Western Michigan, Michigan and Michigan State. This was the third time this grouping of teams had faced off against one another in the tournament. However, it was the first time this tournament was played outdoors.

This 49th edition of the tournament was included as part of the festivities around the 2014 NHL Winter Classic that took place on New Year’s Day. In that game, the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout at Michigan Stadium. The NHL game at Michigan Stadium was originally scheduled to occur the previous year – along with an outdoor Great Lakes Invitational tournament – but everything was pushed back due to the 2012 NHL lockout that season.

The first game of the 2013 Great Lakes Invitational was between Michigan State and Michigan Tech. The announced crowd was more than 25,000 on December 27. The Spartans came into the game with a 5-9-1 record in the first year of Big Ten Hockey. Michigan Tech had already swept the Spartans in Houghton, Michigan, the previous month. The Huskies also had a losing record of 6-9-5 in the new-look WCHA. Michigan State scored two early goals in the third period to go up 2-1. But Alex Petan of Michigan Tech scored the equalizer 8:13 into the period and that’s how it remained until the end of regulation. A shootout was needed to determine which team would advance to the tournament championship the following day. Michigan Tech’s Ryan Furne scored the shootout winner in the fifth round to send the team to the championship.

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The second game of the Day 1 was between Michigan and Western Michigan. Sitting at a 10-2-2 record, the Wolverines were the favorite to win the tournament. Western Michigan sported a 7-8-3 record and represented the brand-new NCHC conference. The Broncos were the runner-up in the previous year’s Great Lakes Invitational. The two teams had yet to face one another that season prior to the tournament. The Wolverines got on the board first with a shorthanded goal by JT Compher in the second period. But the Broncos bounced back and scored two of their own before the second frame was over. The Wolverines tied the score in the third and that’s how it remained at the end of regulation. With just nineteen seconds left in overtime, Josh Pitt scored the game winner for Western Michigan to send the Broncos to the title game.

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The MacInnes Cup would be awarded to either Michigan Tech or Western Michigan on December 28. But first the consolation game would be played between Michigan and Michigan State. The two rivals had yet to play that season. The Spartans surprised the college hockey world by shutting out Michigan 3-0. With many people picking Michigan to win the tournament, the team ended up in 4th place out of four teams.

More than 26,000 fans were in attendance to see which team would be the first to hoist the MacInnes Cup outdoors. It was a rematch of the previous year’s Great Lakes Invitational championship game that saw the Huskies blank the Broncos 4-0. In this rematch, the teams were evenly matched and both had great scoring chances. At one point in the second period Daniel Holmberg of Michigan Tech hit the cross bar for no goal. By the end of the game, shots were 33-31 in favor of Michigan Tech yet no goals had been scored. The game would be decided in overtime. It only took two minutes and one second for Justin Kovacs to score the game-winning goal. It was the second time the Broncos won the Great Lakes Invitational and first time since 1986.

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The same four teams will participate in this year’s Great Lakes Invitational. It will be the fifth time this grouping of teams will participate in the tournament (with the fourth being in 2016.) However, it will be a showcase tournament with games being held at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor. The first two games will be held December 29 when Michigan State will host Western Michigan and Michigan will host Michigan Tech. The two visiting teams are scheduled to swap ice arenas the following night with Michigan State hosting Michigan Tech on Saturday and Michigan hosting Western Michigan. Unfortunately, Michigan announced December 27 that the team is cancelling the game on Saturday against Western Michigan. The official release stated health and welfare protocols but it sounds like it is not due to COVID but instead to prevent wear and tear on a roster that is missing five players to the IIHF World Junior Championship in Canada. This tournament will look different than previous iterations and no champion will be crowned for the second year in a row since last year’s tournament was canceled due to COVID. But the bright spot is that college hockey will be showcased again this holiday season in the state of Michigan.

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Let’s flash back to the late 1970s. Ohio State and Bowling Green are not only in-state hockey rivals, but also in-conference rivals within the previous incarnation of the CCHA. The two teams played four times in the 1976-77 regular season with all games taking place in the second half of the season in 1977. The teams split the first series at Ohio State after the Buckeyes won 5-4 in overtime in the second game of the weekend. The final regular season series of the year for both teams saw the Buckeyes travel to Bowling Green in what resulted in another split. The Falcons put 10 goals on the board in the Friday night game on February 25, 1977. The Buckeyes rebounded to win 4-2 the following evening. The Falcons finished second within the CCHA with a 10-6-0 conference record and the Buckeyes finished third at 8-7-1. With four teams advancing to the CCHA playoffs, this set the stage for a rematch the following weekend at Bowling Green.

In 1977, the CCHA playoffs included four teams and consisted of two semifinal series and a championship series. All three series included two games apiece with the aggregate goals rule in effect. This meant that the team that scored the most total goals within the two games was declared the winner. The first semifinal game between OSU and Bowling Green took place on Friday, March 4. With the season series tied 2-2, something had to give. The first night saw the Falcons defeat the Buckeyes 5-2. If Ohio State wanted to keep its season alive, the team had to win the second game by a minimum of four goals. Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, that didn’t happen. In the second game that took place March 6, 1977, Bowling Green finished off Ohio State by a score of 4-1. This effectively ended Ohio State’s season while the Falcons moved on to the CCHA championship series against top-ranked St. Louis.

The following weekend saw the Falcons defeat the Billikens 4-0 in game one. St. Louis responded in game two by winning 4-1. However, the total goals scored differential favored the Falcons by one goal. The 1977 CCHA tournament title earned Bowling Green an invite to the 1977 national tournament. It was the first appearance in the Division I men’s national tournament for Bowling Green. It also happened to be the first time the national tournament field had expanded past four with the Falcons securing the fifth spot. The Falcons ended up losing the first round game 7-5 to eventual national runner-up Michigan.

Ohio State and Bowling Green will begin a home-and-home series this week on Thursday night. It’s the first time the teams will face one another since October 27, 2018, when the Falcons and Buckeyes tied 2-2 at Bowling Green. The first game is Thursday in Columbus and the teams will travel north to Bowling Green for a Friday night matchup. The two teams are no longer both within the same conference. Bowling Green is once again affiliated with the new-look CCHA while Ohio State is in the Big Ten hockey conference. This is the ninth season since the two programs parted ways for different conferences yet this week’s matchup will be the sixth season the in-state rivals will face off against one another in that time period. So despite changes in conference alignment, the Battle for Ohio continues on. With all of the conference shifting in the past decade within Division I men’s hockey, a focus on keeping in-state rivalries in tact is very beneficial for the sport.

In the above photo, Jack Laine and Paul Titanic of Bowling Green look down at an OSU player who has the puck beneath him. The photo was taken during the CCHA semifinal series at Bowling Green in March 1977.

Photo Credit: Bowling Green State University, “The Key 1977” (1977). BGSU Key Yearbooks.

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This is Part 2 of a two-part series where we look back at the unique two-game series between the USC Trojans and Minnesota Golden Gophers that took place more than 83 years ago. If you missed Part 1, you can read it here.

On March 26, 1938, USC and Minnesota faced off for game two of their series in Los Angeles. The Trojans defeated the heavily-favored Gophers 5-2 just two days beforehand. Minnesota had hoped to jump out to an early lead to quiet the packed Polar Palace arena crowd in Hollywood. It looked like they may be in luck early on as the Gophers were awarded a power play in the first period. Unfortunately for the away team, they gave up the puck in front of the USC net and Herm Schaller skated the length of the ice to tally a short-handed goal for USC to make it 1-0. The Trojans extended the lead to 3-0 on two second period goals from Bennie Novicki. The Gophers gained a little momentum back when Bill Bredeson scored at the end of the second period making it 3-1 heading into the third.

Eventually the Gophers tied it up 3-3 with two unanswered goals in the final frame. However, USC stood tall and wouldn’t back down. Earl Robson stole the puck from the legendary John Mariucci and scored the game winner with less than two minutes to go in regulation. The Saturday night game ended 4-3 in favor of the home team and earned the Trojan hockey team a sweep of the Big Ten champion Gophers.

The Gophers would head north three days later to Washington to face Gonzaga in the last game of the three-game West Coast trip. The team lost 5-1 in the only hockey contest to date between the two schools. The Trojans and Gophers would face off again the following season. USC traveled east to Minnesota just nine months later. The cold weeknights in December didn’t faze the Trojans as they swept the Gophers yet again; accounting for one third of Minnesota’s losses in the 1938-39 season. The early series set the tone for USC that season with the Trojans eventually regaining their Pacific coast championship from Loyola in 1939.

December 1938 would be the last time these two teams shared the ice together. Eighty-two years later USC can still claim they are undefeated against the Minnesota hockey team with a 4-0 record.

The golden state of California was home to very talented college hockey teams in the 1930s. Yes, you read that right. In fact, these teams would routinely put up great competition against the best that the United States and Canada had to offer. USC and Loyola dominated the four-team league in California. We highlighted these two teams in our coverage of the 1930s in our U.S. College Hockey History summary.

Today we’re focusing on the first time the Golden Gophers of Minnesota visited Los Angeles to take on the host USC Trojans on March 24, 1938. USC had recently lost the league championship to Loyola the previous week. This marked four championships in a row for Loyola. It had to have stung the Trojans who were hoping to regain the West Coast title they routinely touted in the early 1930s. The heavily-favored Gophers were the reigning Big Ten champions. It was rumored that the Gophers purposely avoided Loyola on the team’s West Coast tour due to the alleged “poaching” of Minnesota’s Iron Range prospects by the Loyola team. USC hockey teams routinely included players from Canada, Minnesota and Massachusetts but there was no ill will between the two universities.

The indoor Polar Palace arena was packed with 3,500 spectators who wanted to see how this West Coast-Midwest tilt was going to shape up. They were treated to a fast-paced game from the opening puck drop. Both teams had four shots on goal within the first two minutes of regulation. Nat Harty of USC broke the proverbial ice five minutes into the game. The Trojans would jump out to a 2-0 lead later in the first period. The Gophers were able to get on the board in the final period to cut it to 2-1. Minnesota was able to narrow the lead to one goal again later in the final period but the Trojans scored twice in 20 seconds and took the opening game of the series 5-2.

Leading the Trojans that night was the team’s senior captain Nat Harty with two goals. The Daily Trojan applauded goalie Jerry Beranek as well as defensemen Al Fitzgerald and Howie Smith for bottling up Minnesota sophomore John Mariucci. The paper claimed it was the first time in Mariucci’s college career where he was held scoreless in a game.

Nat Harty captained the Southern California Trojans in 1938

In Part 2 of our USC-Minnesota series, we will highlight the second game that took place on Saturday, March 26, 1938.

Photo Credit: USC Digital Library. The Daily Trojan Collection

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In part two of our series about the Robert Morris Colonials, we’re going to take a look back at the season where the program reached the national tournament for the first time in its history: 2013-14.

Looking to build upon a successful 20-14-4 campaign from the previous season, the Colonials had high hopes heading into the fall of 2013. However, it didn’t start out exactly how the team had planned with Robert Morris going winless in the first four weeks of the season with a 0-5-1 record. Tough interconference games against Lake Superior State, Ohio State and Penn State put the team in an early hole. In fact, it set the tone for the first half of the season. By the time the calendar flipped to 2014, the Colonials were staring down a 2-12-2 record. The Colonials even ended up in fourth place out of four teams in the Three Rivers Classic; a Pittsburgh holiday tournament RMU hosted in December that the team had won just the year before.

If the Colonials were going to dig themselves out of the hole they created, the schedule makers didn’t do them any favors. The second half of the season saw RMU begin play with four away games in seven days. Perhaps the team felt it had nothing to lose and played loose or Coach Derek Schooley made the necessary adjustments but no matter what it was, the team won three of the four games. This began a run of games that resembled what the team expected to do at the onset of the season. The Colonials ended up going 11-4-3 in the second half.

This impressive second half pushed the Colonials to a 5 seed in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. With an automatic bid to the national tournament on the line, 8 of the 12 teams faced off during the first weekend of March in best-of-three series. The top four seeds received byes. Robert Morris hosted Army and easily won 8-4 in the opening game. Army bounced back to win the second game to force a deciding game three. In this third game, Army scored first but the Colonials rallied for three unanswered goals to advance to the next round. Robert Morris traveled to UConn to take on the Huskies in the best-of-three Quarterfinals. The Colonials blanked the Huskies in game one 3-0 and swept the series 3-2 the following night to earn a spot in the semifinals in Rochester, New York.

It would be single elimination from here on out for the four remaining teams in the Atlantic Hockey Tournament with the victor earning a bid to the national tournament. The Colonials squandered a 4-2 lead to Niagara late in the third period and the game ended up going to overtime. Scott Jacklin was the hero as he scored with five minutes left in overtime, sending RMU to the championship against 7 seed Canisius. The Colonials took home the hardware by defeating the Golden Griffins 7-4 behind a hat trick from Cody Wydo. It was the first (and only) AHA Tournament title for RMU. Four Colonials made the All-Tournament Team with Wydo receiving the tournament’s Most Valuable Player award.

Robert Morris received a tough draw for the national tournament. During the tournament selection show, the team learned they were going to face the number one overall seed, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, in their backyard in St. Paul on March 29, 2014. The Colonials put up a good fight for the majority of the first period but three Gophers goals in three minutes and thirty seconds late in the first period proved to be too much. Wydo put RMU on the board in the second period. Goals by Zac Lynch and David Friedmann later in the game weren’t enough to overcome the early deficit as the Gophers won 7-3. In the accompanying photo, goalie Dalton Izyk makes a sprawling save while losing his stick in the second period at the Xcel Energy Center.

Looking back seven years later, it can be considered a successful season for the Colonials. The team overcame a very rough first half of the season and could have easily packed it in after winter break. Instead, the team went on a very impressive run of games and won the Atlantic Hockey Tournament. The Colonials made it to the national tournament for the first (and only) time in school history and eventually lost to the national runner-up in their home state. All involved should be proud about what they accomplished during the 2013-14 season.

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As the de facto home team in the 2011 Frozen Four, Minnesota Duluth made itself at home in St. Paul. In what is currently the most recent championship game decided in overtime, UMD won its first national title when Kyle Schmidt scored 3:22 into overtime. The Bulldogs had been less than three minutes away from winning it in regulation but Jeff Rohrkemper tied the game at 2 for Michigan. The only #1 seed that made to the Frozen Four that year was North Dakota. Both UMD and Notre Dame were 3 seeds and Michigan a 2 seed. The Wolverines shocked the crowd in the semifinals when they blanked North Dakota 2-0. UMD defeated the Fighting Irish 4-3 to stamp their ticket to the championship game. This was the first of three trophies UMD won in the 2010s. The Bulldogs’ second championship also took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul seven years later in 2018. For the first time since this overtime thriller in 2011, Minnesota Duluth and Michigan will meet Friday afternoon in Fargo. The winner of this 2021 opening round game will face the winner of North Dakota and American International.

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Boston College and Notre Dame first met on the ice in 1969. In a rivalry that spans multiple decades and conferences, the meeting between the two Catholic schools is referred to as the Holy War on Ice. In 2008, this game’s importance vaulted to a whole new level when the two teams met on the biggest stage: the NCAA Division I men’s championship. It was the first time the two teams met in the NCAA tournament. After a scoreless first period, the Eagles jumped to a 3-0 lead in the second period. Notre Dame answered back with a goal but it wasn’t enough as Boston College added one more in the final period and won the game 4-1. It was Boston College’s third championship at the time. It also marked the first time the Fighting Irish played in the title game. The same two teams were scheduled to meet this weekend in the opening round of the 2021 NCAA tournament but Notre Dame dropped out of the tournament two days prior to the game due to COVID protocols. It would have been the first time the programs met in the NCAA tournament since this championship game in Denver on April 12, 2008.

Michigan defeats Minnesota in Minneapolis on Jan. 6, 1951, by a score of 6-4. Photo courtesy of the Star Tribune via the Minnesota Historical Society.
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Minnesota hosted Michigan at Williams Arena in Minneapolis on January 6, 1951. In the second game of the series, the Wolverines completed the sweep by defeating the Golden Gophers 6-4. Michigan was victorious the night before when they won 5-4 in overtime. These two teams face off against each other this weekend in Minneapolis during the final weekend of the regular season. Minnesota has a chance to claim the Big Ten regular season championship for the first time since 2017. The regular season banner would also give the team a first round bye in the conference tournament. The Gophers currently lead the season series 2-0 after they swept the Wolverines in Ann Arbor in December.

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Michigan and Ohio State met in Cleveland on Jan. 15, 2012, during the Frozen Diamond Faceoff at Progressive Field. An attendance of 25,864 saw the #13 Wolverines defeat the #2 Buckeyes by a score of 4-1. The rivals were a part of the CCHA when this game was held; prior to the creation of the Big Ten hockey conference in 2013. This game would be the last time the teams met during the season. In the accompanying photo, Michigan players celebrate a first period goal from Chris Brown. The two teams will meet for the last time this regular season when they begin a two-game series this Friday in Columbus.