On Thursday, the Eagles men's hockey team faces the Michigan Wolverines in the first round of the 2011 Great Lakes Invitational at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit (7:35 PM Eastern start). Entering its 47th year in existence, this year's tournament features Michigan, Michigan Tech, Michigan State and Boston College.
Michigan and Michigan Tech co-host the event, while Michigan State is traditionally selected as the third participant. The Spartans have played in the GLI in every year since 1978.
The tournament's fourth team is a different, visiting team each season. This year, BC will compete in its fourth-ever Great Lakes Invitational.
BC's last appearance in the Great Lakes Invitational was a successful one. In 2003, the Eagles knocked off Michigan 4-1 in the opener and defeated the Spartans 4-3 in the Championship game to take home the program's first GLI title. BC's Joe Pearce was named tournament MVP.
The Eagles also participated in the tournament in 2000 and 1973 -- both third place finishes for BC. In 2000, BC lost the opening round game to Michigan State, 4-1, and won the third-place game over Michigan, 8-5. Way back in '73, BC lost to Michigan State 12-5 (!) in the tournament opener, before knocking off UPenn 6-2 in the third-place game.
Hockey East teams have won three Great Lakes Invitationals -- Boston College (2003), Boston University (2002) and New Hampshire (1969). HEA also has one runner-up finish -- Maine in 1990 -- and eight third place finishes in the Michigan-dominated holiday tournament.