Monday, December 25, 2006

GLI Preview

Before I get started, I would just like to thank Boosh for being a jerk and setting all of you faithful THB readers up for disappointment. This entry is extremely dry, but at least very educational. Alright, let's get right into it...

Finally... the Great Lakes Invitational is right around the corner. And what a great holiday tradition it is. Hopefully this year will turn out a bit differently than in recent years past, and I have a feeling that it just might.

To jump right into the overview of the games and the teams...

Friday, December 29th, GLI will kick off with the Michigan State Spartans taking on the Harvard Crimson. The fun will start at 4:05. What makes this interesting is that usually Michigan Tech will take the first game on Friday, as Coach Russell likes to give his guys a lot of time to rest before their game the next day. For whatever reason though, this year MSU and the fourth team, Harvard, will be taking the early Friday game.

Harvard might have their hands full at this year's GLI. They will be bringing with them a record of 4-9-0 overall (3-7-0 ECAC [aka... EZAC]). Their first win, and a fluky one at that, was against Boston College, shutting them out 4-0. The Crimson's other wins come against Dartmouth, Quinnipiac, and Colgate. The most impressive part of their resume for this series will be their power play. Harvard ranks 14th in the nation, capitalizing on 20.7% of their power plays. If Michigan State doesn't want to be embarrassed by Harvard on Friday night, they better stay out of the penalty box.

Leading the Crimson is scoring is freshman forward Doug Rogers, 3-7--10. The offense is pretty well scattered about, with no one Harvard player standing out too far from the rest. Other point getters for the Crimson include senior center Kevin Du (2-8--10), freshman defenseman Alex Biega (4-5--9), junior forward Jon Pelle (3-6--9), and senior right wing Ryan Maki (5-3--8).

For crease duty, we will likely be seeing senior Justin Tobe. He has played in 9 games this season and has a .893 save percentage. Tobe has only had one shutout in his career, which came last year. One thing that is interesting to note is that he played 7 games as a freshman for the Spartans in the 2002-2003 season. After Tobe is lit up, enter freshman Kyle Richter, who already has posted one shut out this season and has a .891 save percentage in 6 games.

Taking on, and unfortunately probably defeating, Harvard, we have the MSU Spartans. MSU is 9-7-1 overall and 7-5-1 CCHA. Leading the way for the Spartans is sophomore forward Ted Kennedy (11-8--19), junior forward Bryan Lerg (9-5--14), and junior forward Chris Mueller (7-6--13). In goal for MSU we have sophomore shorty Jeff Lerg, who only stands at 5'6". In his 17 GP this season, he earned himself 9-7-1, with 2.78 GAA and .895 save percentage. He's already put up two shut outs this season, making it a total of five career shutouts. Now, while I hate everything about MSU, I think any team with a 5'6" first string goaltender is kind of cool. Lerg is DEFINETELY way cooler than Dominic Vicari, whose cheapness I certainly will not miss. Though J. Lerg may be kind of cool, MSU still sucks and I will be rooting against them nearly as much as I will be rooting for MTU.

And for Friday's evening game at 8:05 EST, we'll see Michigan Tech and Michigan going at it. Michigan, who is 12-7-0 overall (8-5-0 CCHA) is looking to win their first GLI championship in quite some time. Dangerous players to watch: senior forward TJ Hensick (7-26--33), junior forward Kevin Porter (14-17--31), and junior forward Chad Kolarik (12-13--25). UM will be losing two of their top players, Cogliano and Johnson, to World Juniors. Aw, darn.

Michigan brings the most shameful PK of all the tourney participants in the GLI this year. Their PK is ranked 47th in the nation at 79.9%. The worst PK of the tournament will be matched up with the worst power play, MTU's, on the first night of GLI.

Michigan Tech (8-8-2 overall, 5-7-2 WCHA) is not looking like much of a threat on their power plays. They have only scored on 6 of 98 power play opportunities this season, good for 59th place out of 59 Division I hockey teams, at 6.1%. A brighter spot for discussion however is the Huskies' penalty kill, which is at an impressive 88.1%, 6th in the nation.

The Huskies have had an amazing season so far, doing things this year that haven't been done in the Tech hockey program in MANY years. Hopefully that trend will continue at the GLI this year... and the Huskies can make things happen that haven't been done by them lately.

It appears that MTU will be starting with sophomore goaltender Robby Nolan on Friday. The starter on Saturday will depend largely upon Robby's Friday performance.

GLI is usually the time of year where the Huskies start to bring their A game, though they don't normally get results until later on in the season. However, for this year, they started bringing their A game from day 1. Hopefully this year we'll get the GLI results that us Tech fans have been longing for... for many years now. If we want those results though, we're going to need the Huskies to get something together for their power play. Scoring 6 times out of 98 power plays is not going to cut it.

The losers of the two Friday games will meet during the consolation game at 4:35 on Saturday, while the championship game is at 8:05.

1 comment:

DoubleJ said...

It is time for the black and gold banner to hover over the Joe. If not this year, for sure within the next 1-3 years with the recruits that Tech is bringing in. I like their chances as long as they stop the Michigan wrap around play.
Fear the wraparound.

Go Tech....