2023 Michigan State vs Michigan Tech - Men's

CCHA RinkRap: Michigan Tech Stuns Michigan State At 2023 GLI

CCHA RinkRap: Michigan Tech Stuns Michigan State At 2023 GLI

Michigan Tech stunned Michigan State to win the Great Lakes Invitational. RinkRap was on the scene at Van Andel Arena, taking in the sights and sounds.

Jan 3, 2024 by Tim Rappleye
CCHA RinkRap: Michigan Tech Stuns Michigan State At 2023 GLI

The sad song of CCHA nonconference frustration played on for St. Thomas, Lake State, Bemidji State and Ferris State over the holidays, but old reliable Michigan Tech stunned Michigan State to claim the historic Great Lakes Invitational. 

RinkRap was on the scene at Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, taking in the sights and sounds.

The Spartan Goaltending Tree

In the opening semifinal of the GLI, one of the goaltenders was wearing a mask adorned with Spartan logos. It almost made sense, but Michigan State was playing the late game, and this was 3:30 in the afternoon. 

It turned out that three-year MSU veteran Pierce Charleson was in the net for his new school Alaska, but he still preferred the old green and white mask.

Six time zones away, the Sparties No. 1 goalie Trey Augustine was helping Team USA win their pool at the World Juniors with two wins before the new year. 

The absence of Charleson and Augustine allowed Michigan State freshman Luca Di Pasquo to get his second and third career starts at the GLI, picking up a win and a tie, before falling in the championship-game shootout to Michigan Tech.

In the title game, Di Pasquo went long stretches without seeing a shot, facing only one in the entire second period. The absence of shots makes a goalie’s job more challenging, not easier.

“Those are tough games for a goalie, right?” MSU coach Adam Nightingale said. “I don’t know if he [faced] a shot in the second, he made some key saves in the third. Luca’s been an unbelievable teammate for Trey [Augustine], supporting and pushing Trey in practice. Our guys love him, and that’s what we expected to see out of him.”

Di Pasquo is the rare goalie who catches with his right hand (left-handed), a trait that forced his mom Shauna to commit some time and money to when Luca was growing up in Livonia, Michigan. 

“The rec-league only had right-handed goalie pads to share,” Shauna Di Pasquo said. “Off we went to Play It Again Sports to pick up a blocker, catching glove and a stick.”

Luca Di Pasquo and his catching glove have garnered a lot of attention over his young career, including a spot on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays in October, and by scoring a goal into an empty net in juniors. 

By picking up a win and a tie at the GLI, the extended family of Michigan State goalies – Di Pasquo, Charleson and Augustine – went 4-0-1-1 between them at the World Juniors and the GLI.

Bag Skates Beckon In Big Rapids

After Ferris State’s second loss at the GLI, a disgruntled Bulldogs fan spewed venom in the elevator ride down to the ground floor.

“Daniels has to go, his time has passed,” said a very large man in work boots and stained jeans. 

He exhaled loudly before stepping out to find his truck. Meanwhile, Ferris coach Bob Daniels was 100 feet away in the press room, trying to make sense of a season in danger of slipping away.

“Were going to have to earn our confidence with hard practices,” Daniels said after dropping the GLI third-place game by a goal. “Thats not a punishment thing, its good for the soul. Monday, well get after it hard, really hard. Thats what you’ve got to do when youre on the wrong side of things by a goal. Its time to dig in and develop real confidence from battling in practice. Its not going to come easy. You’ve got to dig in.”

Ferris needs to dig in immediately. 

Daniels’ Bulldogs have lost six games in a row and sit in last place in the CCHA. Expect to see a jumbo trash can at center ice this week at Ewigleben Arena.

Mutual Admiration In Grand Rapids

Joe Shawhan’s Michigan Tech Huskies have spoiled the GLI dreams of Michigan State and their young coach Adam Nightingale each of the last two years, but the relationship between the coaches is unwavering. 

It began 25 years ago, when Nightingale played junior hockey for Shawhan in Sault Ste. Marie.

“When I played for Joe, he believed in me,” Nightingale said. “When a player feels that a coach truly believes in him – sees something more in yourself than maybe you see in yourself – well, that was pretty powerful for me in my career. Not that I was a great player, but I went on to play college hockey.”

After winning his second GLI tourney this past weekend, Shawhan was exuding puck love toward all three Nightingale brothers: Adam, Jared and Jason. 

“I’ve known Adam since juniors, coached his brother, I love them all,” Shawhan said.

If Shawhan keeps beating Nightingale’s Spartans in the GLI, that love may get tested.

Loose Biscuits

Swankler Makes Debut With Michigan Tech

The most controversial player in college hockey, Austen Swankler, made his 2023-2024 season debut at the GLI. He picked up a pair of assists in the semifinal comeback over Alaska. Not only did he earn the game puck, he (more importantly) gained the appreciation of his teammates. Michigan Tech posted a video montage from the GLI, and in it, you can see Swankler handing the championship game puck to Blake Pietila, after a nod to Jack Works.

This video was taken on Day 4 of Swankler’s latest hockey tour. 

Tech’s leading scorer, Ryland Mosley, has been cultivating a relationship with the enigmatic star. 

“I’ve been talking to him a little bit, texting him before he came and helping him out as he got here,” Mosley said. “He’s a smart player, he can fit in right away and he knows what he’s doing. He hangs on to the puck, drags two defenders to him, finds open ice, makes a play. He’s really easy to play with.”

When Stepan Pokorny fired short side to tie the GLI third-place game, he put an end to a frustrating 10-game goal scoring slump. 

“Its been a while, I almost forgot how it feels,” Pokorny said. “I hope in the second half, I score a lot more than in the first.” 

A tall Nordic man in dress clothes was the first to hoist the GLI trophy last Friday in Grand Rapids. 

The Thor lookalike actually was Husky captain Arvid Caderoth, who suffered a lower body injury in practice the first day after Christmas. 

Shawhan repeatedly referred to MTU’s struggles without their captain. 

With Swankler filling in for Caderoth at the GLI, the Huskies gained a win and a tie in Grand Rapids. 

Thanks to the cornerwork of Tech SID Calvin Larson, we now know that Tech is 1-2-1 without the services of their 6-foot-5 centerman.