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Michigan State Hockey: Great Lakes Invitational moves to Grand Rapids, Mike Towns hired as assistant coach

The Great Lakes Invitational will take place next season from Grand Rapids at Van Andel Arena. Michigan State will play in it, while Michigan will not.

Syndication: Detroit Free Press Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Next year’s Great Lakes Invitational is officially returning to a tournament-style format. It is also moving to Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Michigan State hockey program will take on Ferris State in the semifinals, and the winner of that matchup will play the winner of Michigan Tech and Western Michigan game.

The event will take place at Van Andel Arena on Dec. 27 and Dec. 28 after spending the last five-plus decades in Detroit.

Michigan is notably absent from the event’s field. The Wolverines have been involved every year since 1973, but infamously dropped out of its game against No. 4 Western Michigan last season, citing “health and welfare protocols,” but not COVID-19 issues.

Michigan State’s new head coach Adam Nightingale has participated in the invitational both as a player and as a coach.

“The ability to compete for a tournament championship in the middle of a season is exciting, and I was lucky enough to win a GLI title when I was a player,” Nightingale said in a statement. “Michigan State is proud to be a part of the great tradition of this tournament — Grand Rapids is a great hockey town and we look forward to playing in a packed Van Andel Arena.”

The Spartans have won the event 11 times.

After being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, it moved to a showcase format for 2021, in both Ann Arbor and East Lansing. MSU lost its game against Western Michigan, but defeated Michigan Tech after freshman David Gucciardi scored the overtime-winning goal.

The first round in 2022 will feature Michigan Tech taking on Western Michigan on Dec. 27 at 3:30 p.m. Michigan State takes on Ferris State at 7 p.m. The championship game is scheduled for Dec. 28 at 7 p.m. The third-place game is set for 3:30 p.m. All times are Eastern.

The GLI was first played in 1965 and has been played at six different venues since then: Olympia Stadium (1965-1978), Joe Louis Arena (1979-2012, 2014-2016), Comerica Park (2013), Little Caesars Arena (2018-2019), and Munn Ice Arena/Yost Ice Arena (2021). Van Andel Arena will be the seventh venue.

In other hockey news, Michigan State has announced that it has hired Mike Towns as assistant head coach. MSU hired UMass’ Jared DeMichiel as an assistant head coach at the end of May.

Towns spent the last three seasons as an assistant head coach at Clarkson University in New York. He was also on the staff at American International that helped kick off a run of three consecutive conference tournament championships.

It’s also been revealed that Griffin Loughran, who MSU cut ties with after not meeting academic standards last season, has entered the transfer portal.