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Little Caesars Arena showcases itself as the new home of the GLI

January 3, 2018
<p>Pictured is the interior of Little Caesars Arena before the Michigan State vs. Michigan game on Jan. 2, 2018.</p>

Pictured is the interior of Little Caesars Arena before the Michigan State vs. Michigan game on Jan. 2, 2018.

Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

DETROIT — From the red lights shining on the ice an hour before puck drop to the brick walls that surround the concourse, Little Caesars Arena is an definite upgrade from its predecessor, Joe Louis Arena.

LCA isn't only ushering in a new era of Detroit sports, being the home of the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons, but a new era of the city.

The new, state-of-the-art arena is also the new home of the Great Lakes Invitational, hosting the 53rd edition of the annual tournament on New Year’s Day and Jan. 2.

The Spartan ice hockey program lost both games of its games against Michigan Tech and the University of Michigan, but still enjoyed the perks of Little Caesars Arena.

“It’s an electric atmosphere,” senior defenseman Carson Gatt said after MSU's loss against the Huskies on New Year’s Day. “We were sitting on the bench before the game and seeing how red the seats were, it was crazy. And a pretty good turnout.”

Before the 53rd edition of this tournament, Joe Louis Arena was the home of the GLI, holding the tournament for 36 of the previous 37 times.

Although Little Caesars Arena has all the new bells and whistles, Joe Louis Arena held six Red Wings Stanley Cup teams with four of them hoisting the revered cup, along with countless playoff games and Red Wings legends such as Nicklas Lidstrom and Steve Yzerman.

“(LCA) is a little bit nicer, but obviously the Joe has that vintage feel,” sophomore forward Taro Hirose said. “Being at these rinks are pretty cool and a good experience for everyone.”

No matter if it’s the Joe or Little Caesars Arena, Gatt said playing on the same ice as NHL players is “really cool.”

“To kind of think on New Year’s Eve, Sidney Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin and all those kind of guys were walking the same walk as us and playing on the same surface,” Gatt said. “It’s always cool to play in the same surface and arena where the best players in the world play.”   

Head coach Danton Cole said he likes coming down to Detroit for events such as the GLI, but wants to see his team on the winning side of events rather than the losing side, as the Spartans have claimed last place four in the last six GLI's. 

“We’ve got juniors who haven’t won a game here. Our seniors have only won one game here,” Cole said. “We’re going to come back here next year with nobody who’s won a game in a Great Lakes. So until it gets back to where we’re coming down here and people are going ‘Oh jeez. I don’t want to play against Michigan State.’ I won’t be happy.”

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