For the first time in nearly a half century, the Great Lakes Invitational Hockey Tournament will be played without the University of Michigan.
And, for only the second time since it was founded in 1965, it will not be played in Detroit.
This year’s tournament will take place December 27th and 28th at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, and will return to a tournament format. Along with Michigan Tech, the participants will be Michigan State University, Ferris State University and Western Michigan University.
It will be the 17th time in history that four Michigan schools have competed.
There was no immediate indication if the troubled Wolverines program had opted out of the competition on its own, or if the team had been asked to withdraw.
The Michigan program is under fire for alleged Title IX violations, workplace cultural problems, and falsified COVID-19 test reports.
The Wolverines, who are coached by MTU alumnus and former head coach Mel Pearson, also unceremoniously canceled their final game in last year’s GLI. Team officials said it was because of health and safety protocols, but there were charges that the game was abandoned because Pearson didn’t want to endanger his team’s national ranking against a red-hot Western Michigan University club.
The GLI was founded by Michigan Tech head coach John MacInnes, along with officials from Olympia Stadium and the Detroit Red Wings. U of M became a co-host in 1976. Over the years, the venue moved first to the Joe Louis Arena, then to Little Caesar’s Arena. In 2013, it was played outdoors at Comerica Park.
It remained in Detroit, however, until last year. The 2021 event was recast as a showcase, with games at both Yost Arena in Ann Arbor and Munn Arena in East Lansing.
Van Andel Arena is located in downtown Grand Rapids, and is only about an hour away from the WMU, FSU and MSU campuses. It seats 11,000 fans for hockey, and is the home of the Detroit Red Wings’ top minor league affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins.