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Grand Rapids will host the Great Lakes Invitational for the next 4 years, but Michigan will not play

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – The Great Lakes Invitational will remain on the west side of Michigan for the foreseeable future.

Michigan Tech University announced Thursday that the 57th annual college vacation hockey tournament will take place at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, where it will remain for the next four years. Michigan State will join the Huskies in each of the events.

The 2023 tournament will take place December 28-29 and will feature Michigan Tech vs. Alaska and Michigan State vs. Ferris State.

The GLI was held in Grand Rapids for the first time in 2022 after having been held exclusively in Detroit for the first 50 years of its existence.

“Change requires courage and courage is often rewarded,” said Richard MacKeigan, ASM Global Regional General Manager for Van Andel Arena. “We look forward to sharing the rewards of this courageous move to move this tournament to Grand Rapids.”

Future teams that will compete in the GLI against the Huskies and Spartans are Northern Michigan and West Michigan in 2024, Miami and Ferris State in 2025, and West Michigan and Notre Dame in 2026.

Notably, Michigan is not included in the tournament plans after being a mainstay for nearly their entire career. The university said the decision to skip the 2022 tournament was due to a “number of factors,” including “trying to make some adjustments that ultimately weren’t possible.”

Michigan’s shutout followed controversy in 2021 when the Wolverines canceled a top-tier matchup against top-5 ranked WMU, but played MTU the night before.

Michigan, which was without five of the best players competing at the World Junior Championships, cited “health and wellness protocols” as reasoning,

MTU coach Joe Shawhan said that the GLI is “synonymous” with Michigan Tech hockey, noting that it is the biggest event on the program. The Huskies are the only team that has played in every tournament since its inception in 1965.

“It could have disappeared many times over the years,” he said. “But it has been the commitment and the purpose of why it was created that has kept it going. It’s the most prestigious tournament in college hockey.”

Western Michigan won the 2022 event with an 8-2 win over Ferris State. Michigan Tech has won the GLI 11 times in 56 tournaments, most recently taking home the MacInnes Cup in 2019.

Michigan State has 12 GLI titles in 48 tournaments. Ferris State will make its fourth appearance in the tournament after finishing as runner-up in 2022 for the first time in program history.

Alaska will play in its first GLI in 2023.

Michigan State hockey coach Adam Nightingale called the GLI the “crown jewel of college hockey tournaments.” He said that the GLI has a special place for him personally, as he used to get tickets to the tournament at Christmas when he was a child and then played with his brothers.

“I think it’s really important to our game and college hockey,” he said. “The city of Grand Rapids is a beautiful city, a hockey city. Van Andel is one of the best facilities in North America, so for our guys to come and play here is a great opportunity.”

Ticket packages will go on sale in September at VanAndelArena.com.

The Great Lakes Invitational was first played in 1965 after the idea for the tournament was conceived and implemented by Michigan Tech coach John MacInnes, Olympia Stadium general manager Lincoln Cavalieri, and Detroit Red Wings scout, Jack Patterson.

The tournament was played at Olympia Stadium (1965-78), Joe Louis Arena (1979-2012, 2014-16), Comerica Park (2013), and Little Caesars Arena (2018-19).

COVID-19 canceled the 2020 GLI and teams played an exhibition-style event with no tournament on campus in 2021.

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