If you’re anything like me, you’re really bummed out that you’re not currently on your way to the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit. It’s been a holiday tradition in my family since before I was born and I’ve only been absent from one GLI in my lifetime. The sad reality is that with this year’s edition being cancelled, it is purely speculation at this point whether or not the fifty-plus-year-old tournament will continue, even when fans are allowed back in the stands. It’s just one more item in a long list of reminders that the coronavirus pandemic is long from over.
While I have nostalgic memories of attending the Great Lakes Invitational and spending time with friends and loved ones, it simply cannot be ignored that ever since the end of the MacInnes days, the tournament hasn’t ended positively for the Huskies more often than not.
Here’s a look at the top 5 tournament moments we’d rather forget.
Four Times the Bridesmaid. The biggest elephant in the room here is that Tech made the championship 4 times in a row and turned up as the bridesmaid in each one. Fortunately, this streak was snapped in a memorable 2019 GLI championship against Mel Pearson’s Wolverines, but nearly a half decade of being second best weighs heavy on the hearts of Huskies fans. It felt wrong to put this fact down as one moment because in reality, it’s four, but it needed to be addressed nonetheless.
Last Place. Coming in last in the 2010 and 2011 also warrant discussion. However, I feel comfortable placing these years at the tail end of the constant suffering of being a Tech fan, so they felt more like they belonged as a footnote than a distinguished moment. The good news is that Tech fans will likely not have to deal with many consecutive last place finishes again anytime soon.
#5: Losing to Michigan in Semis in 2014
This may be a bit of a homer pick, but 2014 was my freshman year at Tech. This was the season that where we earned our first #1 ranking in decades and had a win streak lasting over 10 games. We went into this tournament as the easy favorite on paper. I, along with most Tech fans, had some very high hopes for coming out of this tournament with our first win since 2012. However, it was not to be. One of the last editions of Red Berenson’s Wolverines had other ideas for the Huskies that year, narrowly beating them 2-1. That loss stung very hard. The Huskies would ultimately finish in 3rd place this year, defeating Ferris State in the consolation game.
#4: Getting Dusted By Lake State in 2018
This was the 4th time the Huskies had made the championship game in as many years. There was no way that our guys were going to allow us to become the Buffalo Bills of our own tournament, right? Certainly they were going to come out strong, dominate the game, and bring the MacInnes Cup back where it belongs… Right?
Wrong. The Huskies never truly looked like they were in this championship game and seemed as though they underestimated their fellow UP rival Lakers. The Huskies got spanked in this game 6-3 and were left to go back to Houghton with their tails between their legs.
#3 Long Review Kills Momentum Against BGSU in 2017
Old timers that feel like reviews are killing hockey, look away. The Huskies went down 1-0 in this game, but in the second period Jake Lucchini made the puck sing off the crossbar to tie the game up. After that, the momentum was all Michigan Tech. There was absolutely a buzz in the building among fans that it was only a matter of time before Tech broke through and raised a big ‘ol Michigan Tech banner to the rafters of Little Caesars Arena for the first time.
Not long after, Michigan Tech scored what appeared to be a goal on the ice, but after a review that literally took in the ballpark of 15 minutes, the goal was disallowed for an alleged high stick. After that, wind was pretty much completely out of the sails of the Huskies.
Special thanks to current Mitch’s Misfits Secretary Sam Horne for helping me pull this deeply repressed memory back out.
#2: One-Year-Wonder Angus Redmond Plays Out of his Mind in 2016 Championship Loss
For most Michigan Tech fans, Angus “Beef” Redmond is a name we remember very fondly. The Year of the Beef saw the Huskies return to the NCAA tournament. The freshman sensation was electric to watch and stole more than his fair share of games for the Huskies. In the 2016 GLI, the only way to describe our boy Beef was “dialed.” He was making arguably some of the best saves in GLI history. If you watch none of the other videos, be sure to watch this one. There was an opportunity for Western where Beef was high sticked, but as he was falling down, he managed to get his leg up and make the save, forcing overtime. Western had a chance after chance to burry this game earlier, but Beef simply wasn’t having it. Unfortunately, our wonder kid couldn’t keep the whole team together for this one and the Huskies would fall 1-0 in overtime.
#1: Losing to Western Michigan in Overtime at Comerica Park
This one was pretty easy. The outdoor games at Comerica Park were supposed to take place in 2012, but the NHL lockout prevented the Red Wings hosting the Winter Classic that year and thus put the plans for the outdoor GLI on hold. In 2013, they delivered the outdoor extravaganza that had been promised.
As fate would have it, Michigan Tech and Western Michigan would be given the rematch the both desired from the previous year’s GLI. Unlike their last bout, this one was close to the very end. Just a touch over two minutes into overtime, Western would score the first and only goal of the game off a trickler that still lives rent free in the heads of most Huskies fans.
The goal is visible toward the end of this video from the Red Wings, but if you didn’t want to smash your phone or computer screen today, it may be best to pass on this one.
This one gets the honor of hurting the worst because many Huskies fans believe that it should’ve been us regaining the MacInnes cup outside, and we had pretty much the same opportunity to do it the following year, but squandered it on a goal that wasn’t very clean to say the least.
While the future of our beloved holiday feature may be in question, and there have definitely been some frustrating moments over the years as Huskies fans, it is also important to reflect on how important of a time it is for our community. Not many people get to experience an event like this with supportive alumni and community members flocking to a game they love and going nuts regardless of result.
Having to watch weekend’s series against the Chargers in Houghton on a TV screen certainly won’t feel the same as driving to Detroit to see the Huskies in person, but hopefully hockey played under these weird conditions can continue to give our fans some sense of normalcy.
Through the good, the bad, the pleasure, and the pain, go Huskies!
Image Credit: SB Nation College Hockey