Lake Superior State Lakers rang in the New Year in Detroit as first-time champions of the 54th annual Great Lakes Invitational college hockey tournament.
The Lakers defeated Western Collegiate Hockey Association rival Michigan Tech Huskies 6-3 in the New Year’s Eve title tilt at Little Caesars Arena.
Lakers head coach Damon Whitten, who won four straight GLI championships as a player with the Michigan State Spartans, said the accomplishment of “doing something for the first time at Lake State” is worth noting.
“(Lake Superior State) has five national championships … we’ve got Hobey Baker Award winners, tremendous alumni, history and tradition but this is our first Great Lakes Invitational championship,” said the 41-year old Whitten, who is in his fifth season as head coach of the Lakers and who is a former assistant at Michigan Tech.
Lakers captain Diego Cuglietta, who lifted Lake Superior State into the championship game against Michigan Tech with the overtime winner against Michigan State on Sunday, tallied twice in the title match victory.
Cuglietta, who was named tournament most valuable player, told the Detroit News that the Lakers “stuck to our system really well.”
Meanwhile, Michigan Tech head coach Joe Shawhan, a Sault Ste. Marie native and former goalie and assistant coach at Lake Superior State, was gracious in defeat, noting that “the better team won, I think.”
PHOTO: Lake Superior State forward Diego Cuglietta shows off the MacInnes Cup to his teammates after the Lakers upended Michigan Tech to win the Great Lakes Invitational.(Photo by David Guralnick/Detroit News.)