SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. -- “Coaching staff stability” is the latest element in the ongoing rebuild of the Lake Superior State hockey dynasty. After making their return to the NCAA tournament in 2021 after more than two decades away, the Lakers are solidifying their staff behind the bench.
On Friday, July 23, the school announced assistant coaches Zack Cisek and Mike York have both been promoted to associate head coach, and both men have agreed to multi-year contract extensions.
“Mike and Zack have done an outstanding job in all facets of Laker hockey,” said Lakers head coach Damon Whitten. “We are excited to announce their multi-year contract extension and promotion to associate head coach. They have both worked tirelessly to recruit outstanding student-athletes from across the globe to Laker hockey.”
York, who was a standout player at Michigan State and logged nearly 600 games in the NHL, joined the LSSU staff in July 2017 as an assistant coach. Cisek, who was a practice goalie at Michigan State and previously coached at Miami University and Notre Dame, joined the LSSU staff in August 2018 as an assistant coach.
With those two working under Whitten, the Lakers have posted two of the program’s most successful seasons in the last three decades (2018-19 and 2020-21) while also adding a Great Lakes Invitational Championship, a WCHA Championship and the program’s first NCAA Tournament appearance in 25 years in 2021.
The Lakers, who are joining the new CCHA for the 2021-22 season, were a dynasty in the late 1980s and 1990s, winning NCAA titles in 1988, 1992 and 1994, and finishing as national runners-up in 1993.
GLI moving to campus sites for 2021
Detroit’s claim to the moniker “Hockeytown” took another hit on Friday, with the announcement that college hockey’s most storied holiday tournament will leave the city this season.
The 56th edition of the Great Lakes Invitational, an annual holiday tourney co-hosted by Michigan Tech and Michigan State, will be played at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, rather than in the Detroit Red Wings’ home rink, which has been the case more more than five decades.
Michigan Tech will play at Michigan while Michigan State hosts Western Michigan on Wednesday, Dec. 29. The teams will flip opponents for Thursday, Dec. 30, with Tech traveling to East Lansing and Western heading to Ann Arbor.
Sources have indicated to The Rink Live that the move to campus sites is temporary and fueled by scheduling conflicts at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, which was set to host the 2020 NCAA Frozen Four and the GLI last winter. Both events were cancelled due to the pandemic.
The first GLI was held in 1965 at Olympia Stadium in Detroit, and has been played there, at Joe Louis Arena, at Little Caesars Arena and one season at Comerica Park, the home of baseball’s Detroit Tigers, ever since. It is generally a big draw with the thousands of alumni from Michigan Tech, Michigan State and Michigan who live in the Detroit metro area.
Michigan has won 17 of the previous 55 tournaments, with Michigan State claiming a dozen GLI titles and Michigan Tech winning 11, including the most recent GLI in 2019.
With the NHL Draft beginning Friday night, 13 players with CCHA ties are hoping hear their names called. Among the 13 are six defensemen, five forwards and two goaltenders.
Minnesota State has four of the potential draftees.