Lakers down Michigan Tech, claim GLI Championship

The Lakers celebrate with the John MacInnes Cup beneath the Great Lakes Invitational banner (Mike Barrett/LHB).

Bryan Basilico’s first goal of the year was the difference maker as Lake Superior State defeated Michigan Tech 6-3 to win their first ever Great Lakes Invitational (GLI) title.

Senior Captain Diego Cuglietta, who had four goals during the tourney, was crowned Most Valuable Player of the 54th incarnation of the GLI.  He was joined by goaltender Nick Kossoff and defenseman Collin Saccoman, who were also named to the All Tournament Team.

In a reversal of their first period against Michigan State the previous day, it was the Lakers (11-6-1, 6-5-1 WCHA) who jumped out to a two goal lead.  Cuglietta’s third goal of the tourney was followed by Hampus Erikkson’s first goal of the year just over a minute later.  Erikkson collected his own rebound off his initial shot on Huskies netminder Robert Beydoun and squeezed the puck thru on the short side.

The Huskies rallied to tie the game, with a Jake Lucchini wraparound cutting the lead in half.  Michigan Tech tied it up early in the second when a major penalty and game misconduct was assessed to Gage Torrel for contact to the head.

Nevertheless, Lake Superior regained the lead when Max Humitz drilled a shot from inside the right faceoff circle.  Humitz was aided by Cuglietta, who screened Beydoun.

Late in the period, with Michigan Tech’s Trenton Bliss off for hooking, Bryan Basilico knocked in a pass from Brayden Gelsinger right in front of the net, restoring the two goal lead.

Early in the third, the Huskies closed the gap further, as a goal by Bliss made it 4-3 Lakers.  Lake Superior appeared to make it 4-2 with a tally by Humitz, but the goal was disallowed due to a player in the crease.

With a tight game, the Lakers did what they needed to do, sustaining offensive zone pressure late, making it difficult for the Huskies to pull Beydoun.

Finally, with over a minute left, Michigan Tech coach Joey Shawhan pulled Beydoun in favour of an extra skater.  The moved backfired, as Cuglietta notched his fourth goal of the tourney with a shot from centre ice.

Rolling the dice again, Beydoun was pulled a second time, but a shot by Steven Ruggiero from deep within his own zone lightly bounced off a post and in the goal, securing a 6-3 win and GLI title.

This was the fourth time Lake Superior was invited to the GLI.  Their previous three trips saw them finish 2nd (1996), 3rd (1977) and 4th (1999).  Now they have finished in all four spots.

For the Huskies, this marks the fourth straight season in which they have fallen in the title game.  Last year saw them lose to Bowling Green, while they have also fallen to Western Michigan and Michigan (twice).

The two teams will face off again in February in WCHA play.