Sunday, December 30, 2012

Spartans drop 3rd place game to Michigan 5-2

For 40 minutes, it looked like Michigan State was taking a giant step forward into the second half. Coming away from this weekend with a tie and a win certainly would be a nice springboard into the rest of the year. For 40 minutes, Michigan State looked like a confident team, controlling the puck, out shooting Michigan, getting good goaltending, and playing solid defense.

Then the third period happened. Michigan scored four unanswered goals to win the 3rd place game at the 2012 GLI. It was only the fourth 4th place finish for Michigan State in their 39 history at the GLI. The last one happened in the 2007 GLI (2007 - 2008 season).

Overall, MSU played five solid periods this weekend, and tonight for two periods actually looked much better than the Western Michigan game. Unfortunately, Michigan really kicked it up a level or three the final period, and the Spartans couldn't respond as the 2-1 lead turned into a 3-2 deficit just a couple minutes into the period. 

Michigan State is next in action on January 5th at Ferris State.

WMU Recap

Michigan Recap (pending)

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Berry, MSU salvages 1-1 tie against #7/#8 Western But Falls in Shootout

Michigan State was looking for their second straight win this season - which would have been a first on the season. However, it took a late goal by Matt Berry just to force overtime. Berry buried a center pass from Lee Reimer to force a 1-1 tie with just 17 seconds to go in regulation in the GLI semi-finals today.

Neither team would score in overtime, so officially the game goes down as a 1-1 tie. Western Michigan though ended up winning the shoot-out in four shooters to end up in Sunday's championship game. Michigan State will take on the loser of the night cap between Michigan and Michigan Tech on Sunday at 3:30 pm. The game can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit.

Should Michigan State win or tie tomorrow - it would be the longest unbeaten streak of the season.

Overall Thoughts

Western Michigan was the overall better team tonight, but Jake Hildebrand stole the show keeping Western off the board outside of one somewhat fluky bounce off of Chelios' stick and off his own side/stick. It would have been a shame to see MSU lose 1-0, but Lee Remier's great effort in the corner and superb pass to Matt Berry gave the Spartans hope.

And even though Hildebrand maybe wasn't a widely praised recruit - he has come up big in East Lansing this season. Coach Anastos has a building block in net with him. The first line tonight (Deblouw-Berry-Darnell) was very strong tonight. If MSU can get a second line going during the second half, things will get better for MSU.

Know Thy Enemy: GLI Edition

Michigan State heads down to Detroit this weekend for the 48th annual Great Lakes Invitational. This is Michigan State's 39th trip to the GLI holding a 48-30 all-time record in the tournament with 12 tournament titles (2009 most recent).

Unfortunately, because of the NHL lockout this tournament has been moved back from Comerica Park to Joe Louis Arena. I imagine once the NHL figures things out - Detroit probably will get another winter classic, which means the GLI will be back outdoors that year.

This year's edition of the GLI is an all Michigan edition with Michigan, Michigan Tech, and Western Michigan. The Spartans face-off with Western Michigan today at 3:35 pm. They will play Michigan or Michigan Tech tomorrow at 3:30 (3rd place) or 7:00 pm (championship).

MSU holds a 63-29-8 all-time record against the Broncos. This includes a 2 game sweep last season that surprised a lot of people and really helped Michigan State begin a solid first season under Coach Anastos.

Western Michigan beat Michigan State in their only other GLI meeting back in 1986, a 7-3 game. Western Michigan won the GLI that season.


All games can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit

All MSU games can be heard on 1240 AM or The Spartan Sports Network

Other Info: Preview Preview

Detroit Free Press Article

Western Michigan

Western Michigan comes into the weekend posting an impressive 11-4-1 overall mark (8-3-1-1 CCHA, 3rd place). Western was on a six game winning streak before Michigan ended that with a 2-0 victory on December 15th. The Broncos were one of the preseason favorites in the CCHA - and they are right there, though Notre Dame has played fewer games. Western has been dominating at home (8-1-0) this season, but they've been average on the road (3-3-1). Granted, this isn't a true road game, but one wonders if getting outside of the comfort zone of the Lawson Lunatics means their play goes down a little bit. With that said, they did beat Notre Dame and Michigan on the road.

Top Scorers:

Dane Walters     7 goals, 13 points
Chase Balisy     6 goals, 11 points
Kenney Morrison  4 goals, 10 points
Shane Berschbach 2 goals, 9 points
Dennis Brown       0 goals, 9 points


Frank Slubowski    11-4-1, 1.98 GAA, .918 save %

Power Play:  22.2 %  (18 for 81)
Penalty Kill:  85.1 %  (57 for 67

Western Michigan has outscore teams 38-32 this season, but the third period has been the most impressive with an 18-10 edge.


The Wolverines come into this tournament as the two time defending champion. They are looking for the first GLI three-peat since Michigan State won four in a row from 1997 - 2000. Michigan is looking at the GLI as a potential spring board for a second half run - and they'll need it to keep their NCAA tournament streak alive. Michigan is 6-9-2 overall (4-7-2-2 CCHA, T-7th place). Michigan has already played four games against GLI teams this year, splitting with both Michigan State and Western Michigan.

Top Scorers:

A.J. Treais   10 goals, 16 points
Mac Bennet  4 goals, 12 points
Cristoval Nieves  3 goals, 12 points
Jacob Trouba  5 goals, 11 points   (at World Jrs. - Won't play in GLI)
Alex Guptill  4 goals, 11 points


Steve Racine   4-5-2, 2.94 GAA, .885 save %
Jared Rutledge 1-4-0, 4.57 GAA, .847 save %
Adam Janecyk  1-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 save %

Michigan didn't have a great first half, or even a good first half, but they may have found something with their last victory on December 15th against Western. Adam Janecyk played his first game and played very well. Michigan will need some better goaltending if they hope to succeed in the second half of the season. This might just be the spark they need, or another average weekend could simply lead to more questions than answers for Michigan.

Michigan Tech

Michigan Tech enters this GLI tournament looking for their first title since 1980, and their first finals appearance since 2007. The Huskies had a good rebound year last year under first year head coach Mel Pearson. However, things haven't been as rosy this season as Michigan Tech is only 4-10-3 (3-8-3 WCHA, T-10th). Tech is entering the weekend on a seven game winless streak (0-4-3), and they were swept at home against North Dakota in their last outing before the winter break.

Top Scorers:

Alex Petan   4 goals, 13 points
David Johnstone 4 goals, 13 points
Blake Pietila 10 goals, 12 points
Jujhar Khaira  3 goals, 12 points
Tanner Kero  3 goals,  9 points


Kevin Genoe  3-3-3, 3.28 GAA, .902 save %
Pheonix Copley  1-6-0, 4.36 GAA, .851 save %
Jamie Phillips   0-1-0,  2.48 GAA, .905 save %

It's tough seeing Michigan Tech winning this tournament, but a game wouldn't be out of the question on either day. Michigan is going to need to bring their best effort to beat Michigan Tech, and if the Huskies catch the Wolverines off guard, a win isn't out of the question.

Final Thoughts:

It's tough seeing Michigan State winning this tournament as well, but there is renewed hope in East Lansing following the 3-1 victory over Ferris State, which may have been the team's most complete game of the season. That will certainly act as a confidence builder for the Spartans to throw their best effort at Western Michigan today. While the Broncos might be the favorite in the tournament, it isn't a foregone conclusion that they will come away winners.

This tournament might be more up for grabs than it has been in recent years.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Spartan All-Access, Carney to Retire

MSU released the latest edition of Spartan Hockey All-Access:

On another note, defenseman Branden Carney has decided to retire from hockey. Branden injured his C1 and C2 vertebrae over a year ago during a practice at Michigan State.

Coach Anastos had this to say in the article:

"Our program has been committed to support Branden and his family as he has gone through the recovery process," said MSU head coach Tom Anastos. "This news is obviously a disappointment to all of us. However, in the big picture, Branden will, as I understand it, lead a full life in which he can participate in normal, everyday activities, as well as participate in non-contact recreational sports. Many people who have sustained a similar injury have not been as fortunate to experience such a recovery, so in spite of the disappointing news that Branden's playing career is over, we're thrilled that Branden has made such a remarkable recovery. Branden is a part of this program and the Michigan State hockey family, and this medical decision will not change that. Branden is a Spartan, and we will discuss over the coming weeks what his role will be with our program day-to-day going forward.

Weekend Recap: Spartans Beat #19 Ferris State 3-1

Operation superstitious changes was a success.

Michigan State put an end to a six game winless streak by defeating the 19th ranked Ferris State Bulldogs 3-1 before over 6,400 at Munn Ice Arena.

Game Recaps:

Michigan State Recap

USCHO Recap 


It's certainly nice to see the team end the their first half schedule on a high note. The team performed well tonight for 60 minutes getting quite a few offensive chances despite only getting 22 shots on goal for the game. It's games like this one that show everyone the promise of the program in the near future as the players continue to improve - especially with such a young team.

At the other end of the rink, the defense played very well. The team only gave up 24 shots on goal, held Ferris State to 0 for 3 on the power play (only took four penalties too). Jake Hildebrand was solid in goal once again making 21 saves - and he had no chance on Ferris State's only goal last night in the 2nd period. The defense did a good job limiting the quality chances in front of him too, and this time the team provided enough offensive support.

Chris Forfar scored the game winner on a redirection in front of the net - by going to net he was wide open and was able to slip it past Motte. It's great to see him get scoring, and maybe that will help get him jump started a little bit.

The first period last night was one of the better first periods that Michigan State has played this season (Michigan probably still being the gold standard), but from start to finish this might have been Michigan State's best effort.

And that is very encouraging heading into the break, the GLI, and the second half of the season. This team could be a big mover in the second half - right up the CCHA standings - if they can build upon this effort.

Around the CCHA:

The CCHA continues to show it's tough to get clean sweeps.

Miami at Ohio State. The Buckeyes continue to be a mystery, as Miami was able to earn five of six points this weekend in Columbus. Miami won a shoot-out the first night (1-1 tie), and then they came back and won 3-1 on Saturday.

Western Michigan at Michigan. The two teams split the weekend series at Yost. Western won the first night 4-1, and Michigan finally got in the win column again with a 2-0 win on Saturday.

Northern Michigan at LSSU. LSSU did earn the full six points this weekend by beating Northern 3-1 and 3-0.

Notre Dame at Bowling Green. The Irish continued their winning streak by beating Bowling Green 4-1.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame11101003081
Western Michigan1283112674
Ohio State1263312270
Ferris St.1366101964
Michigan State1348101358
Bowling Green1227311058
Northern Michigan1429311052
The first half of the CCHA regular season is in the books, and it's looking like the CCHA title is Notre Dame's to lose. Even though they are tied with Miami right now, the Irish have three games on hand - which means they could be nine points up on them, and with the one game on hand the Irish could be as many as seven up on Western Michigan. Not a bad spot for the Irish to be in right now.

CCHA Pairwise:

Here is how the CCHA teams stack up in the Pairwise at this point in the year:

4. Notre Dame
9. Miami
10. Western Michigan
20. Ohio State
27. Ferris State

It's still early, so there is a lot of time for teams to move up and down these rankings, but considering how good the CCHA was suppose to be this year, it would be somewhat of a disappointment to only see three teams make the NCAA tournament.


4. Notre Dame (.5872)
9. Miami (.5621)
10. Western Michigan (.5595)
21. Ohio State (.5225)
27. Ferris State (.5003)
29. LSSU (.4953)
33. Alaska (.4898)
36. Michigan (.4882)
37. Northern Michigan (.4820)
41. Michigan State (.4724)
48. Bowling Green (.4630)

To be a team under consideration (TUC) for the Pairwise, you need to be .5000 or better in the RPI. Right now Ferris State is just on the right side of the TUC cliff.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame (14-4, LW: 1). ND's winning streak hits six games, and they've won eight of their last nine games.

2. Western Michigan (11-4-1, LW: 2). Despite the split in Ann Arbor, Western Michigan is in position to make sure ND doesn't run away with the CCHA title.

3. Miami (11-3-4, LW: 3). Miami shows Ohio State what it takes to play in the top four.

4. LSSU (10-10-0, LW: 7). The Lakers have won three straight now and have a couple weeks off before they take on Union at home.

5. Michigan (6-9-2, LW: 5). The record might not be up to standards, but the win against Western may be the thing Michigan needed to get back on track.

6. Ferris State (7-7-3, LW: 4). They were in position to potentially steal some points out of Munn, but they came up short.

7. Ohio State (7-6-5, LW: 6). The Buckeyes only managed a single point at home in a big series - not the way they wanted to end the first half.

8. Alaska (6-8-4, LW: 8). The Nanooks have a tough start to their 2013 schedule - six of eight on the road with those six on the road being Michigan, Notre Dame, and Miami.

9. Michigan State (5-10-2, LW: 10). Finally, some offense, or at least enough offense. Now can it carry over to the GLI and to 2013?

10. Bowling Green (3-10-4, LW: 9). The Falcons still have on where to go but up.

11. Northern Michigan (5-10-3, LW: 11). Now is about the time Northern figures things out, but have they dug themselves in too deep of a hole?

Big Ten Power Rankings

1.  Minnesota (11-3-3, LW: 1). An off weekend for the Gophers - they host Air Force and Boston College after Christmas.

2.  Michigan (6-9-2, LW: 2). Next up: GLI - they are going for a 3rd straight GLI title. The last team to win three straight GLI titles was Michigan State from 1997 - 2000 (4 in a row).

3. Ohio State (7-6-5, LW: 3). Ohio State will look to get back on track in the Three River Classic - which actually means they play Miami next. A date with Penn State could be coming up in the tournament as well.

4. Michigan State (5-10-2, LW: 4). The Spartans go for their first GLI title since 2009.

5. Wisconsin (4-7-5, LW: 5). Alabama-Huntsville certainly helps you get back on track.

6. Penn State (7-8-0, LW: 6). Penn State's last Division 1 win was on November 10th against Air Force. They've lost five straight against D-1 teams since then.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Know Thy Enemy: Superstitions Change-Up

The Michigan State Spartans come into this weekend still in search of offensive answers. The Spartans come into the weekend winless in six games (0-5-1), and they have only scored six goals in those six games - which includes two shutouts. As a result, Michigan State sits in a tie for ninth place with a 3-8-1-0 CCHA and 4-10-2 overall record.

The Ferris State Bulldogs are looking to reclaim last year's magic which put them in the national championship game before dropping a tough game against Boston College. Ferris currently is in fifth place in the CCHA with a 6-5-1-0 league mark and 7-6-3 overall mark. They are winless in three games (which oddly enough started after a win against Michigan), going 0-2-1 in their last 3 contests. Ferris State was swept by Western Michigan last weekend (4-2, 2-1).

Ok, everyone knows that when things aren't working out too well, it's time to change up the superstitions. These previews have usually always been out by Thursday (if not before then). I'm fairly certain this is the first one that I've done on a Friday. In addition, I'll poke fun (albeit sometimes lamely) at the other school. Well, we're going to brag Ferris State up today. All in hopes that this is the mojo change. And yes, I'm well aware that no matter what I do - it doesn't impact the performance of the hockey team.

Ferris State started the season somewhat stronger than Michigan State. Ferris State beat Miami (shut them out). Ferris State also shut out Michigan. Ferris State went to the Frozen Four last year (and the national championship). Ferris State is the defending CCHA Champions (people might not remember this). Ferris State is coached by a Spartan (Bob Daniels). Ferris State is ranked 19th in the country.

Michigan State holds a 66-30-15 all-time record against Ferris State, and this includes a 38-16-6 edge at Munn. Ferris State has won four straight against MSU.

The game can be seen on Comcast Ch. 900 or heard on the Spartan Sports Network or 1240 AM. The puck is scheduled to drop at 5:05 pm on Saturday. This is the only game between the two teams this weekend. MSU will break for the holiday after this game - and return in action at the GLI on December 29th against Western Michigan.

Stats that make you go Hmmm...:  This is the longest winless streak for Michigan State since a six-game winless streak from January 17, 2009 to February 6th 2009.. That streak saw MSU go 0-5-1. That streak was snapped with a 1-0 victory over........Ferris State.

Ferris State Leading Scorers:

Kyle Bonis             8 goals, 13 points
Garrett Thompson  6 goals, 12 points
Travis Ouellette      4 goals, 11 points
Cory Kane             4 goals, 10 points
Justin DeMartino    3 goals, 10 points
Jason Binkley         1 goal, 10 points


C.J. Motte    7-6-3, 2.20 GAA, .930 save %

Historically - this is not the type of team that lends themselves to helping you break out of an offensive slump. They will like to play a grind-it-out type game, a trap game, and if at all possible - a 2-1 game. That doesn't mean they don't have talent up front, but you usually don't see them in many 6-5 type games (reverse jinx!). This is a game where MSU will have to be patient - get traffic in front - and don't be afraid to pepper the goalie (but with traffic in front). They need to grind out some garbage type goals. First goal in this game will be huge - because it might be the only goal scored (reverse jinx!). I just don't see the offensive slump ending this weekend and don't be surprised if Motte puts up a shutout or a strong one GA game (I'm working under the theroy that this is like a no-hitter in baseball.....).

And I don't consider myself THAT superstitious. (wink, wink)

Go Green!

Monday, December 10, 2012

Some Numbers That Probably Won't Shock You

Looking at the numbers so far this season:

Michigan State has played 16 regular season games so far with a 4-10-2 record.

I don't think these numbers will shock you:

When Scoring 3 goals or more: 4-0-1
When Scoring 2 goals or less: 0-10-1

The lone ties in each case was a 3-3 tie to Niagara on October 20th and a 2-2 tie to Miami on November 16th. Once in awhile, you would think the exception would pop up, and maybe they are going to come down the road, but in the meantime, it shows just how the offensive struggles (and injuries on the team) have caused problems. In fact, Michigan State has only scored 1 goal (or less) in 8 of their 16 games this season. Think about that for a second: That means MSU would have to throw a shutout in order to get no worse than a tie!

For comparison sake - on defense:

When giving up 3 goals or more: 0-8-1
When giving up 2 goals or less: 4-2-1

Again, not shocking, but it shows that a handful of times, Michigan State has given up 2 goals or less and still failed to get a win:

November 2nd:  1-0 loss vs. Bowling Green
November 16th: 2-2 tie at Miami
November 17th: 2-0 loss at Miami

Ohio State was an empty net goal away from falling into the second group. But I believe this again shows how the offense has been the issue.

Goaltending hasn't been an issue - Hildebrand, who maybe didn't get much attention from scouts or recruiting rankings, has been stellar in goal. He's 12th in the nation in GAA (1.911) and tied for 6th in the nation in save percentage (.940). Yanakeff might not have the numbers, but this weekend was a good example where he maybe gave up five goals, but he had little chance (if any) on most of them.

So the question becomes - what can we expect over the last 20 games?

More Home Games! Even though Michigan State still plays three of its next four games away from Munn Ice Arena, the Spartans still play only six true road games (2 at Ferris State, 2 at Alaska, 1 at Bowling Green, 1 at Michigan). They finish with 11 true home games, 6 road games, and 3 neutral ice games. January 11th begins a stretch where they play 9 of 12 at home. I'd say this would get MSU going a little bit on offense, but we have such a small sample size to work from. With that said, In the five games where MSU scored 3 or more goals, three of them happened at home. Health is a concern too. I'm not going to pretend that a flurry of goals is about to fall out of the sky in East Lansing, but sooner or later the puck is going to start going in - at least a little bit more. It has to - I can't just imagine a season in which 50% of a team's games would require them to post a shutout just to earn a tie.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekend Recap: Notre Dame Sweeps MSU 3-2, 5-1

The Michigan State Spartans entered the weekend hoping to find an offensive spark and take some points away from #4/#5 Notre Dame all while ending a four game winless streak. Unfortunately for Michigan State, the puck didn't bounce their way as Notre Dame completed a two game sweep to send MSU home without any points on the weekend.

Friday Night Recap

Saturday Night Recap


It was going to be a tough weekend considering the Spartans were on the road against one of the best and most experienced teams in the country. Things didn't get off to a good start as Notre Dame really dominated the opening period on Friday, but Jake Hildebrand played outstanding to keep MSU in the game. The key moment happened when Notre Dame's Anders Lee got hit with a five minute major and a game misconduct. Notre Dame killed the penalty off with some help of a penalty by Jake Chelios followed by another penalty on Matt Grassi. This gave the Irish a 4 on 3 advantage that they buried the puck to regain the lead and control of the game. Brent Darnell tallied both markers for Michigan State.

The second night started off much better for the Spartans - as they out-shot ND in the opening period, but Lee tallied a goal with just eight seconds to go in the period. Normally those goals are killer to give up, but the Spartans came out with more fire in the second period and really did a good job controlling the pace of play and getting opportunities. The problem was ND was finishing their chances, and Michigan State couldn't solve Summerhays. ND eventually built up a 5-0 lead before Berry ended the shutout with about 2:30 to go. It was a tough game to watch since MSU really deserved better in this one - and they certainly played better than a 5-1 loss. In the end though, Notre Dame took advantage of the mistakes MSU made, and a team like ND will do that.

Michigan State returns home for a single game on the 15th against Ferris State.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame1091002781
Western Michigan1072112377
Ohio State1062212175
Ferris State1265101967
Michigan State1238101058
Bowling Green1126311061
Northern Michigan1227311058

It's looking like the top four teams are starting to distance themselves from the pack. Notre Dame, Miami, Western Michigan, and Ohio State all hold the inside track for a top four spot. Ferris State, LSSU, and Michigan look to be in the next pack fighting for fifth place, and then you have Alaska, MSU, Bowling Green, and Northern Michigan at the bottom.

It's still early enough though where teams can finish anywhere, but right now Alaska, MSU, Bowling Green, and Northern have to really get things going to move up the standings. I still wonder if Ohio State can really hang on to a top four spot, but time will tell.

Games This Week:

Friday Night:

Northern Michigan at LSSU
Miami at Ohio State    (Big Ten Network)
Western Michigan at Michigan  (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday Night:

Notre Dame at Bowling Green
Northern Michigan at LSSU
Ferris State at Michigan State (Comcast)
Miami at Ohio State
Western Michigan at Michigan 

There are quite a few interesting series this weekend - Western at Michigan, Miami at Ohio State headlines the weekend. Both of those can be seen on TV Friday as well. Also, this is the last weekend before the winter break. The next games after this are various holiday tournaments beginning on December 28th. Michigan State is in the GLI beginning December 29th.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame (13-3-0, LW: 1). Another sweep extends their winning streak to seven in a row.

2. Western Michigan  (10-3-1, LW: 3). The Broncos swept rival Ferris State heading into a potential tough weekend at Michigan.

3. Miami (10-3-3, LW: 2). Miami was beaten at home by LSSU - losses like that could prevent them from winning a CCHA title.

4. Ferris State (7-6-3, LW: 4). Despite the sweep, they stay in the fourth position - that sort of tells you about everyone else right now.

5. Michigan (5-8-2, LW: 6). Michigan needs to turn things around quickly - a big series against Western awaits.

6. Ohio State (7-5-4, LW: 5). A loss and tie to Robert Morris will not do you any favors in the PairWise rankings come March.

7. LSSU (8-10-0, LW: 8). A split in Miami is huge. LSSU continues to be the model of splits.

8. Alaska (6-8-4, LW: 7). A loss and SO win against Bowling Green at home does not look good for Alaska.

9. Bowling Green (3-9-4, LW: 11). The Falcons earned four of six points in Fairbanks. There haven't been many teams that can say that so far.

10. Michigan State (4-10-2, LW: 9). The break can't come soon enough as MSU hasn't scored more than 2 goals in a single game since their win over Michigan on November 10th.

11. Northern Michigan (5-8-3, LW: 10). The idle Wildcats can get back on track with a series against rival LSSU.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (11-3-3, LW: 1). The Gophers continue to roll, a win and tie this week.

2. Michigan (5-8-2, LW: 3). Michigan has moved up more as a result of other teams not doing well.

3. Ohio State (7-5-4, LW: 2). I think we'll learn a lot about Ohio State this week as they take on Miami.

4. Michigan State (4-10-2, LW: 4). Spartans need to find scoring answers.

5. Wisconsin (2-7-5, LW: 5). The Badgers didn't lose this weekend, but they didn't win either.

6. Penn State (6-7-0, LW: 6). Penn State let one slip away Friday before Holy Cross controlled the action on Saturday.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Michigan State at Notre Dame - December 8th

Tonight's game can be seen on Comcast Chan. 900 or heard on 1240 AM in the Lansing area - or on the Spartan Sports Network.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Michigan State at Notre Dame 12-7-12

The Spartans travel to South Bend for a pair of games. Tonight's game can be seen nationally on NBC Sports Network at 7 pm.

Game Links:

Michigan State: Listen Live //  Live Stats
Notre Dame: UND All Access

Other Links: USCHO Commentary: Mason as classy as ever as as wins record set to be broken

Other Links #2: USCHO CCHA Blog: Paula's Picks

Friday Morning Links: MSU at ND

And some Friday morning linkage from the world of college hockey, keep in mind of our live blog tonight beginning at 6:30 pm for the 7:05 pm face-off in South Bend.

Lansing State Journal: Spartans look to snap out of scoring slump

Notre Dame Hockey: Give an assist to Flattop

The State News: MSU travels to South Bend

The Observer: Irish prepare for home series against the Spartans

Neil's Notebook: Draeger keeps it simple Notes: Spartans travel to South Bend

ND Athletics: Irish close out 6 game homestand with Michigan State

Other Items:

The State News: Ron Mason embraced as wins record set to fall

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Live Blog - December 7th

Join us on Friday, December 7th at 6:30 pm for the live game blog for the Michigan State - Notre Dame game. The game starts at 7:05 pm and can be seen on NBC Sports Network. Doc Emrick and Pierre McGuire will be calling the action from South Bend.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Know Thy Enemy: Notre Dame

Before the normal glance at this weekend's opponent - if you haven't seen the Spartan Hockey All Access from earlier this week, I would highly recommend it (focuses on the Michigan series):

Spartan Hockey All-Access - Michigan Series

Here Come the Irish:

Football isn't the only thing in South Bend that has been successful this year. The hockey team is having a pretty good year as well. 
Michigan State hopes to rebound after a frustrating weekend at home, but things won't be easy for the Spartans as they travel to #4/5 ranked Notre Dame. The Spartans haven't won in four games (0-3-1) scoring only three goals in those games. Michigan State is now tied for 9th place with Northern Michigan.

Notre Dame comes into the weekend in second place in the CCHA with a 7-1-0-0 CCHA and 11-4-0 overall mark. They are only one point behind league leading Miami with two games on hand. The Irish have won three in a row and five of their last six games. The good news for Spartan fans is three of their four losses have been at home (Minnesota-Duluth, Western Michigan, and North Dakota).

Notre Dame has a bit of an odd schedule, as the Irish play Michigan State in four of their next six games. The two teams play again in East Lansing on January 11th and 12th.

Michigan State holds a 60-39-4 edge in the all-time series.

Notre Dame now holds a 25-22-7 edge in South Bend.

At one point Notre Dame held an 11 game unbeaten streak against MSU that started in January of 2008. The streak (0-8-3) ending last February as Michigan State won 4-2 in South Bend.

Highlights From The Last Meeting, a 4-2 Michigan State Victory

MSU's four game winless streak is the longest such streak under Tom Anastos.

If you aren't to the point that you don't like the Irish - I present you exhibit 'A' to dislike them, it isn't the Notre Dame victory march, it isn't Rudy, it isn't Brian Kelly, or the fact that you think they are going to get rolled by Alabama - it's for someone producing this:



National TV

Friday's game will be on national TV on the NBC Sports Network starting at 7:05 pm. Saturday's game can be seen on Comcast (Channel 900) at 7:05 pm. Both games can be heard on 1240 am or on The Spartan Sports Network.   

Notre Dame Leading Scorers

Andres Lee    10 goals, 15 points
Jeff Costello    5 goals, 12 points
Robbie Russo  4 goals, 12 points
Bryan Rust      4 goals,  12 points
T.J. Tynan       3 goals,   10 points

Notre Dame Goalies

Steven Summerhays    9-4-0, 1.57 GAA, .936 save %
Mike Johnson   2-0-0, 1.91 GAA, .929 save %

The Irish power play is 11 for 70 (15.7%)
The Irish penalty kill is 53 for 58 (91.4%), and they are only penalized on average 12.5 minutes a game.

The Spartan power play is ranked 11th in the country, but it'll be tested this weekend against a very tough and experienced Notre Dame team. The penalty kill has killed off 18 straight power plays. The Spartan PK is ranked 11th in the country as well. 

Notre Dame has outscored teams 28-10 this year in the first and third periods combined. The second period they have only managed to outscore teams 18-15. The Irish are 7-2 this year when scoring the first goal, and they are 7-0 when leading after the first period.

Final Thoughts

The Spartans are looking to find some offense. Case in point, Jake Hildebrand ranks second in the CCHA with a .942 save % (fourth nationally) - and in his four losses this year, MSU has scored a total of one goal.

Enter one of the best defensive teams in the country as well as one of the most experienced teams in the league. It won't be easy, but the Spartans are going to have to limit their mistakes in order to come away with some points in this series. The effort should be there, it usually is, but Notre Dame will take advantage of any potential breakdowns on offense or on defense (much like Ohio State did last weekend).

It's going to be tough for Michigan State, but scoring first is crucial in this series. Force Notre Dame to play from behind, which might force them to open it up a little bit especially late. The Spartans haven't done well lately against Notre Dame in recent years, but they did win the last game between the two teams.

Notre Dame doesn't always light the scoreboard up, but they are capable. This series is going to be challenging on the same level that Minnesota was. If the Spartans get a great game in goal, continue to work hard, they should be in the game, but it's going to be about going to the net more and working for the garbage goals more than last weekend. If they can do that, then you never know what can happen.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Weekend Recap - Looking Up At A Lot

Michigan State finally returned home for the first time in what felt like a year - only to drop a couple of tight games against Ohio State. It's not exactly the weekend anyone in the green and white wanted - but it happened.

This weekend across the CCHA sweeps seemed to be the rule, as the top teams in the league really are starting to make a statement (Notre Dame, Miami, and Western). Time will tell whether or not Ohio State can be included in that conversation, but the Buckeyes are hanging around for now.

York Matches Mason

Boston College defeated Boston University last night by a 5-2 score. This win gave Jerry York his 924th career coaching victory - which ties him with Ron Mason for most all-time wins. York could have passed Mason last night had BC defeated BU on Friday. Boston College plays at Providence on Friday.

Around The League

LSSU at Notre Dame. The Irish continued their winning ways beating LSSU 3-2, 6-1.

Miami at Alaska. The Nanooks probably were hoping for a better result, but Miami dominated play all weekend long in a 5-2 and 4-0 win.

Northern Michigan at Western Michigan. The road woes continue for Northern as Western swept the Wildcats in Kalamazoo (4-2, 1-0).

Michigan at Ferris State. In the only non-sweep of the weekend, Ferris State beat Michigan like a drum on Friday - 5-0. The Wolverines held a 3-1 lead on Saturday, but they couldn't hold on in a 3-3 tie. Michigan earned the extra point in a shoot-out to earn two of the series six points.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame871002181
Ohio State1062212175
Ferris State1063101973
Western Michigan852111777
Michigan State1036101064
Northern Michigan1227311058
Bowling Green91621663

Games This Week:

Tuesday, December 4th:

Michigan Tech at Northern Michigan

Friday, December 7th:

LSSU at Miami
Michigan State at Notre Dame  (NBCSN)
Bowling Green at Alaska
Ferris State at Western Michigan
Robert Morris at Ohio State

Saturday, December 8th:

LSSU at Miami
Michigan State at Notre Dame (Comcast)
Bowling Green at Alaska
Ferris State at Western Michigan
Ohio State at Robert Morris

Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Ohio State take the weekend off from CCHA action (Michigan and Northern have the weekend off all together).  Ferris State and Western looks like a potential great series in K-Zoo. Michigan State will have their hands full in South Bend.

CCHA Power Rankings:

The power rankings seem to be getting a wee bit more stable at this time of the year. I suppose that shouldn't be a surprise considering the league is starting to separate a little bit .

1. Notre Dame (11-3-0, LW: 1). Another weekend sweep for the Irish. They've won five in a row in the CCHA. Oddly enough, four of their next six games will be against Michigan State.

2. Miami (9-2-3, LW: 2). Miami did a great job out west - now they'll need to put the Alaska hangover to rest with a home series coming up followed by a big series in Columbus.

3. Western Michigan (8-3-1, LW: 3). I'm not sure anyone has noticed that Western is 8-3-1. They'll need to get through this weekend before a big series in Ann Arbor.

4. Ferris State (7-4-3, LW: 4). A win & tie against a struggling Michigan team is enough to keep them here. They'll have a chance to prove themselves worthy of a potential CCHA title discussion this week.

5. Ohio State (7-4-3, LW: 5). An impressive showing in East Lansing this weekend. Now the Buckeyes go outside of the CCHA as a Miami series looms.

6. Michigan (5-8-2, LW: 10). I'm not sure Michigan deserves to move up this much, but from here on down right now - it's tough to figure any of these teams out.

7. Alaska (6-7-3, LW: 6). It wasn't so much they got swept, but that Miami dominated them at home.

8. LSSU (7-9-0, LW: 7). A tough road series at Notre Dame. It doesn't get any easier as Miami is up next.

9. Michigan State (4-8-2, LW: 9). The Spartans are looking for answers - scoring answers - as they have only tallied three goals in their last four games.

10. Northern Michigan (5-8-3, LW: 8). Northern can't really figure out the road thing (1-6-1), but they still are tough at home (4-2-2).

11. Bowling Green (2-9-3, LW: 11). Let's see how the Falcons respond with a week off as they make the long trek West.

Big 10 Power Rankings

1.  Minnesota (10-3-2, LW: 1). They may have lost at home to UNO, but they are still the best in the Big 10.

2. Ohio State (7-4-3, LW: 2). The Buckeyes don't look to be going away right now.

3. Michigan (5-8-2, LW: 5). Again, I'm not sure they deserve to move up, but it's more like they weren't as bad as everyone else.

4. Michigan State (4-8-2, LW: 3). Christmas wish list: Goals.

5. Wisconsin (2-7-3, LW: 6). A win & tie at Denver is better than anything Penn State has done at this point.

6. Penn State (6-5-0, LW: 4). A split against Arizona State doesn't look good since they are a club team, but club teams can still play good hockey. They face Holy Cross away from home this weekend.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Buckeyes Sweep Spartans 3-1

Another night, another loss.

Again, it's not for a lack of effort - the Spartans battled hard for 60 minutes. In fact, Michigan State did a better job of getting to the net, but Brady Hjelle played very well in net again tonight stopping 21 of 22 shots he faced.

The first period started out pretty well for Michigan State. The Spartans were attacking the net with some success, making Hjelle make a handful of tough saves. Chris Forfar then powered a shot between his legs to give Michigan State a 1-0 lead, and ending a scoring drought that lasted 160 minutes and 27 seconds. John Draeger and goaltender Jake Hildebrand got the assists on the play. The first period ended that way with Ohio State holding an 11-10 edge on shots.

The second period looked a little similar to yesterday, as Ohio State got stronger as the game progressed. Unlike last night though, the Buckeyes managed to solve Jake Hildebrand in the middle period. Both on plays to the front of the net, the first from Tanner Fritz 6:50 into the middle stanza, and then Tyler Lundey at the 18:55 mark. Ohio State took a 2-1 lead into the 2nd intermission, but Michigan State held the edge on shots 19-18. The Spartans did have a couple chances in the period, but either they missed the net or Hjelle was there.

The final period saw some chances at both ends - including a mini-break away for Michigan State that Hjelle once again stopped. Ohio State hit the post early on in the period, but then they took a couple late penalties that gave Michigan State a chance. The first came with about seven minutes to go in regulation, but the Spartan power play had some problems settling a bouncing puck down. Michigan State kept pressing though, and the pressure nearly paid off with just over one minute to go as a bouncing puck found its way behind Hjelle, but tipped off the post. Ohio State was then penalized for too many men on the ice, and Michigan State had a power play over the final 41 seconds.

Michigan State got some initial pressure on the two man advantage (6x4), but the puck was eventually stolen, and Tyler Lundey buried the empty net goal to put the game away and give Ohio State a 3-1 win in front of 6,115 fans.

Things don't get much easier for the Spartans either, as they travel down to South Bend for a pair of games next weekend - as Michigan State is now looking to end a four game winless streak.

Across the Country

A lot of games are in progress right now. Notre Dame  is destroying LSSU late in the 3rd period by a 6-1 score. Michigan and Ferris State are tied at 3 late in regulation. Western Michigan finished off its sweep of Northern Michigan with a 1-0 win. Alaska and Miami play later tonight.

Across the country - Boston College holds a 4-1 lead over BU. If that score holds, Jerry York will tie Ron Mason on the all-time career coaching wins list.

More to come tomorrow evening.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Night Woes Continue: Buckeyes Blank Spartans 1-0

At times both Michigan State and Ohio State have struggled to find the net this season. Tonight was one of those nights where neither team could get much to the net - as both teams defended well in front of their own goals.

In fact, one of the few times either team got anyone to the net, it resulted in goals - or near goals. Ohio State thought they had a 1-0 lead in the second period, but replays confirmed the puck went off the post and crossbar - never crossing the goal line. The Spartans later on in the second period tallied what they thought was a goal good enough for a 1-0 lead, but that too was disallowed after replays showed goaltender interference.

That set the stage for the 3rd period when Ryan Dzingel crashed the net with 2:13 remaining to lift the Buckeyes to the 1-0 victory before over 6,400 at Munn Ice Arena. Michigan State actually played one of their better first periods of the season out-shooting the Buckeyes 14-8 in the opening frame, but the Buckeyes slowly gained control of the pace and eventually out-shot MSU 33-31 for the game. Neither team could convert on the power play as Ohio State went 0 for 3 and Michigan State went 0 for 1.

The officials might as well not have been on the ice over the final 10 minutes as they missed a handful of potential penalties. I swear Philo does this all the time. He missed a potential one on MSU, but all the officials missed a too many men on the ice penalty on Ohio State along with deciding to ignore Brady Hjelle's side kick interfering (and tripping) a streaking Spartan forward. But it's tough to lean on any CCHA official.

It wasn't for a lack of effort, but the Spartans need to try to get to the net more. Ohio State did a great job in front of Hjelle, but the Spartans didn't really challenge him much tonight. On the flip side, the Spartans defense did a nice job in front of Hildebrand, until the final couple minutes when Ohio State finally chipped one in. It was a solid road game by Ohio State - and a well earned three points.

Michigan State is now 1-5-1 on Friday nights this season. They've only scored nine goals in those seven games, and three came in one. Oddly enough, the three goal game was the win. The good news? MSU is 3-2-1 on Saturday (both losses on the road against top 5 teams - at Minnesota, at Miami)

The Spartans haven't scored a goal since November 16th at Miami (2-2 tie).  To be fair that's only two games - or to be exact - 146 minutes and 7 seconds (18:53 of the 2nd period in Miami, Jake Chelios).

The two teams will meet again tomorrow at 6 pm at Munn. The game can be heard on 1240 AM or seen on Comcast Channel 900.

Across the Country

 Boston University 4 Boston College 2. I only bring this up, because Jerry York could have tied Ron Mason for most career coaching victories. Obviously he'll get it at some point this season (possibly tomorrow).

Ferris State 5 Michigan 0. Ouch. That's a butt kicking in Big Rapids. Michigan continues to struggle.

Notre Dame 3 LSSU 2. The Lakers played tough in South Bend, but Notre Dame continues to roll in CCHA play.

Western Michigan 4 Northern Michigan 2. No surprise here as the Broncos hold home ice.

Miami at Alaska (result pending)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Know Thy Enemy: Ohio State University

The Michigan State Spartans are looking to get things rolling after a weekend off over the Thanksgiving holiday. The Spartans currently sit in 9th place in the CCHA with a 3-4-1 league and 4-6-2 overall mark. The 10 points is only 6 points behind first place Miami in a league that continues to be tight from top to bottom. Michigan State hosts Big 10 rival Ohio State this weekend at Munn Ice Arena.

The Buckeyes come into the weekend sitting in a tie for second place with 15 points (4-2-2-1 CCHA, 5-4-3 overall). Ohio State is on a bit of a roll going 4-2-2 in their last eight games. Last weekend, they split with LSSU winning 4-1 on Friday and dropping a 3-2 game on Saturday.

TV Notes

Both games are on TV this weekend. Friday's game is on the BTN at 8:05 pm. Saturday's game is at 6:05 pm on Comcast (Channel 900). Both games are on 1240 AM on your radio dial.

All-Time Series

The Spartans hold a slim 84-26-8 edge in the series. This includes a much slimmer 40-8-3 mark at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans won three of the four games last season, but the two teams actually split in East Lansing. Ohio State actually hasn't been swept in East Lansing since 2002. 

The teams actually have played six series in East Lansing since that 2002 sweep, and Ohio State is 7-4-1 in those (one of the series MSU won & tied the second game - so it wasn't a clean sweep).

After this season, you'll see the Buckeyes four times a year - twice in East Lansing, twice in C-Bus - yay! (Yes, I can't wait for B1G hockey).

Buckeyes Leading Scorers

Tanner Fritz      2 goals, 11 points
Ryan Dzingel   5 goals, 10 points
Max McCormick   4 goals, 8 points
Matt Johnson      4 goals, 5 points
Chris Crane       3 goals, 5 points

In Goal:

Brady Hjelle  3-2-2,  1.45 GAA, .950 save %
Collin Olson  2-2-1,  2.68 GAA, .914 save %

OSU Power Play:  10.5%  (6 for 57)
OSU Penalty Kill:  83.0%  (44 for 53)

Ohio State has scored and given up 25 goals this year (7-8, 8-8, 10-9). It doesn't get much more even than this. Ohio State is 4-1 when leading after 1. They are 1-3-3 when tied or losing after 1. By comparison MSU is 3-0 when leading after 1, and they are 1-6-2 when tied or losing after 1. MSU has tallied 30 goals and given up 35 (7-15, 9-11, 14-9).

Final Thoughts:

So, the rumor is Ohio State is actually bringing their entire student section to this series (approx. 75 students). I chuckled when I heard this, because I've gone to games in Columbus before, and it's tough to really see much of a student section in the giant basketball stadium they use for a hockey rink. 75 actually sounded about right. So beware Spartan fans - bring your shouting voice to shutdown the Buckeye travelers.

The end of the video includes Ohio State's Regional Win Over MSU at Yost sending them to the Frozen Four (yes, those are Michigan fans cheering for Ohio State)

Ohio State has always been the "little engine that couldn't" in the CCHA. The University obviously has the money to support the program. That "large basketball stadium of a hockey rink" actually is a nice arena to watch a game - the only bad part is that it's usually half filled (which still means about 6-7k in the stadium, though it feels very empty) unless Michigan or MSU roll into town (I imagine Miami might draw a good crowd too). Yet, they've never been able to find any consistency. A lot people refer (or used to) to Michigan State football as the 'sleeping giant' of the Big 10. Ohio State is a lot like that in the CCHA - only the history isn't quite as rich. They just have one Frozen Four appearance (Ohio State defeated Michigan State at Yost - if you ever wanted to see Michigan fans cheering for Ohio State - you just needed to be at Yost that day). They only have one conference championship (1971-72), two tournament titles (1972, 2004), and only six NCAA appearances (last in 2009). With that said, I've always thought the Buckeyes were a 'sleeping giant'. If they ever get it going - they could be one of the best programs in the country. Maybe the switch to the Big 10 conference will be the final boost they need.

Also, what a lot of people don't remember is Ohio State was actually in first place in the CCHA on January 1, 2012. They were 15-4-1. After back to back ties against Bowling Green that pushed their record to 15-4-3, the wheels not only fell off - but exploded. They finished the 2012 portion of their season 1-11-4 (which includes the two ties to BGSU). The lone win was February 11th at Western Michigan. Heck, they even lost all four shoot-outs they played in. This resulted in a first round loss at Notre Dame - and a team that was 15-4-1 failed to make the NCAA tournament.


But that was last year, and this season the young Buckeyes are looking to improve and make the tournament. They seem to be somewhat starting to put it together. They've played well lately (despite the set back last weekend). They are in second place in the CCHA, and they are gaining confidence through a difficult stretch of their schedule.

Bottom line: The Spartans need to come to play 60 minutes both nights. They will also need to come with the emotion that they had in the Michigan game. The crowd usually is larger when Ohio State is in town, because even the casual MSU fans know the "Ohio State" name. It'll be tough to top the last home crowd though, so the Spartans need to play with some fire from the get go.

This should be two hard hitting, tightly contest games.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Thanksgiving Hangover - Recap

Michigan State may have enjoyed the weekend off, but there was action across the country, and the CCHA.

Around The CCHA


Ohio State at LSSU. The Buckeyes come to East Lansing this weekend, but this past weekend they were at the Soo and earned a three point split. The Buckeyes controlled Friday's action 4-1, but the Lakers responded with a 3-2 victory the next night.

Alaska at Northern. The Nanooks made the long trip back to Michigan this week to take on the reeling Wildcats. Northern Michigan took five out of a possible six points this past weekend though winning 4-3 in overtime on Friday night and winning in a shoot-out on Saturday.

North Dakota at Notre Dame. The Irish split a big non-conference series this past weekend dropping a 2-1 contest on Friday and dominating Saturday night with a 5-2 victory.

Bowling Green at Michigan (Wednesday). Michigan ended their losing streak on Wednesday with a 3-1 victory over Bowling Green.

Michigan vs. Cornell (New York, NY). Cornell dominated Michigan 5-1 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame651001581
Ferris State853001575
Ohio State842211575
Western Michigan632111177
Michigan State834101070
Northern Michigan1025311064
Bowling Green91621663

Games This Week:


Michigan at Ferris State
Ohio State at Michigan State
LSSU at Notre Dame
Miami at Alaska
Northern Michigan at Western Michigan


Michigan at Ferris State
Ohio State at Michigan State
LSSU at Notre Dame 
Miami at Alaska
Northern Michigan at Western Michigan

Nothing but true home series this weekend (no home & home). Miami making the long trip west could be interesting, as Alaska has to be desperate for points after a poor showing in Marquette. Notre Dame is looking to get back to their winning ways in the CCHA - and potentially take over first place. Michigan is trying to find some answers as they play a team that they've historically done very well against - but it's on the road (Michigan has yet to win away from Yost). The Spartans host Big 10 rival Ohio State. Overall, Ohio State hasn't done well in East Lansing. Bowling Green is off this weekend - so they will remain in last place.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame (9-3-0, LW: 1). The Irish picked up a good split this week against North Dakota.

2. Miami (7-2-3, LW: 2). Miami enjoyed the weekend off - now they make the long trip out west.

3. Western Michigan (6-3-1, LW: 3). The Broncos welcome Northern Michigan to town.

4. Ferris State (6-4-2, LW: 4). The Bulldogs look to make a statement against Michigan.

5. Ohio State (5-4-3, LW: 5). The Buckeyes face a tough test in East Lansing this week.

6. Alaska (6-5-3, LW: 5). The Nanooks look to rebound against one of the league's best.

7. LSSU (7-7-0, LW: 7). Any takers on when LSSU sweeps their first weekend series? Or gets swept?

8. Northern Michigan (5-6-3, LW: 10). NMU basically got what they needed at home, but can they carry that over to Kalamazoo?

9. Michigan State (4-6-2, LW: 8). The Spartans look to get back on track this week.

10. Michigan (5-7-1, LW: 9). A much needed win against Bowling Green was followed up by one of their worst efforts of the season. Michigan's NCAA streak may be in jeopardy - but there is still time to turn things around.

11. BGSU (2-9-3, LW: 11). A much needed weekend off as the Falcons look to get something going in December.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (9-2-2, LW: 1). The Golden Gophers dominated in Vermont over the holiday.

2. Ohio State (5-4-3, LW: 2). A Big 10 showdown this weekend.

3. Michigan State (4-6-2, LW: 4). Spartans only have 8 true road games left on the schedule.

4. Penn State (6-5-0, LW: 3). Reality check: Union sweeps Penn State 2-0, 4-1. An exhibition series against Arizona State (club) gives them a chance to fine tune some things.

5. Michigan (5-7-1, LW: 5). They might be better than the three teams in front of them in these rankings, but they aren't playing like it.

6. Wisconsin (1-7-2, LW: 6). Panic in Madison? Maybe if they get swept in Denver.

PairWise Rankings - It's Always Too Early

Yes, it's too early to look at these rankings, but we're going to anyways..... The only day these rankings matter is after the last conference tournament is played in March.

The Top 16

1. Boston College
2. New Hampshire
3. Dartmouth
4. Denver University
5. Yale
6. Union
7. Boston University
8. Notre Dame
9. Miami University
10. Minnesota
11. North Dakota
12. Quinnipiac
13. Harvard
14. Western Michigan
15. Niagara
16. St. Cloud State

Other CCHA Schools:

24. Ferris State
25. Alaska
27. Ohio State

 The CCHA only has three schools (ND, Miami, WMU) in the top 16. That's not good for a conference expected to be one of the best. Though, one could point to all the conference splits as a potential reason. The conference needs to do a good job in its remaining non-conference games to really help out their own RPI and PWR. Keep in mind only teams with an RPI of .5000 or better are considered. Ohio State is right on the cliff at .5071 right now. On the flip side, Northern Michigan (.4936) and LSSU (.4909) aren't far behind. Michigan is 35th at .4887, and the Spartans are 39th at .4730. In case you're curious, Sacred Heart (0-10-2) at .3191 is the worst rated RPI D-I team. Bowling Green is 50th (out of 59) and the worst rated CCHA team. Wisconsin is tied for 55th - the worst rated Big Ten school.

Interesting to look at, but just to look. Don't touch. You'll have to wait for March for that.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Weekend Recap - A Day Later.

Michigan State went down to Oxford looking to end the curse Miami has held over the Spartans lately. The Spartans battled hard, but could only manage a point on the weekend with a 2-2 tie on Friday night (Miami won the shoot-out 2-0). Miami dominated the action on Saturday winning 2-0 and out-shooting the Spartans 36-13 for the game. Freshman Jake Hildebrand played well stopping 34 shots.

Lee Reimer missed the second half of the game after he was assessed a five minute major and a game disqualification for a hit-from-behind. Reimer will be out for Michigan State's next game which won't occur till November 30th when the Spartans host Big 10 rival Ohio State.

Around the CCHA

Notre Dame earned the CCHA's first clean sleep when they went into Yost Ice Arena and won a pair of games in the league's only Thursday-Friday series. Notre Dame won 4-1 on Thursday and 3-1 on Friday.

Ohio State also earned a clean sweep by taking care of business against Northern Michigan. Ohio State won 2-0 on Friday and 4-2 on Saturday.

Ferris State swept Bowling Green on the road with a 4-3 (OT) and 3-1 victory.

LSSU was stunned at home on Friday by Alabama-Huntsville 2-1. The Lakers dominated the scoreboard the next night by a 4-0 score.

Alaska and Western split their series in Fairbanks. The Nanooks won 6-1 on Friday and Western managed a 3-2 victory on Saturday.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame651001581
Ferris State853001575
Ohio State631211278
Western Michigan632111177
Michigan State834101070
Bowling Green81511565
Northern Michigan81510363

Edit Note: Total Points Possible has been waaaaaaay off until I just noticed the bad math
this morning...... The corrected points possible is now included above

Games This Week


Bowling Green at Michigan


Ohio State at LSSU
Alaska at Northern Michigan
North Dakota at Notre Dame


Ohio State at LSSU
Alaska at Northern Michigan
North Dakota at Notre Dame
Michigan vs. Cornell  (New York, NY)

With the holiday weekend coming up a portion of the league, Michigan State included, is taking the weekend off. The best action looks to be in South Bend with North Dakota and Notre Dame. Northern Michigan is entering must win situation with Alaska coming to town, and Michigan's game on Wednesday against Bowling Green is looking like a must win for the Wolverines, if they want to compete for a league title.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame (8-2-0, LW: 3). The Irish climb back on top with the road sweep in Ann Arbor - no BCS computers needed here.

2. Miami (7-2-3, LW: 2). A win and a tie isn't a bad weekend, but right now the Irish look a step ahead.

3. Western Michigan (6-3-1, LW: 1). Losing at Alaska isn't unheard of, but that loss could come back to haunt the Broncos if they want to win the CCHA title.

4.  Alaska (6-4-2, LW: 4). A home split against Western looks good on paper. They need to show they can do it in the lower 48, and this weekend they will face a desperate Northern Michigan team.

5. Ferris State (6-4-2, LW: 5). The Bulldogs are hanging around.

6. Ohio State (4-3-3, LW: 10). Are the Buckeyes waking up? A tough road test against LSSU followed by another tough road test in East Lansing awaits the Buckeyes.

7. LSSU (6-6-0, LW: 6). A home split against UAH doesn't look good, but the Lakers focus returns to CCHA play this weekend.

8. Michigan State (4-6-2, LW: 7). The Spartans ended the losing streak to Miami last week, and now they have a couple weeks to prep for Ohio State.

9. Michigan (4-6-1, LW: 8). If things don't turn around, Michigan might be faced with a task like they had in 2010 - win the CCHA tournament or miss the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990.

10. Northern Michigan (4-6-2, LW: 9). The Wildcats are in a must win situation this week if they want to keep themselves in a decent spot for a run at the top 5.

11. Bowling Green (2-8-3, LW: 11). The Falcons are close to winning some big games within the league, but the end results remain the same.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (7-2-2, LW: 1). A win and tie against the Badgers has a lot of folks in Minneapolis smiling.

2. Ohio State (4-3-3, LW: 5). A sweep bumps the bucks up.

3. Penn State (6-3-0, LW: 4). A tough road series in Union coming up for PSU.

4. Michigan State (4-6-2, LW: 2). Spartans get a weekend to regroup.

5. Michigan (4-6-1, LW: 3). A ton of questions remain in Ann Arbor.

6. Wisconsin (1-5-2, LW: 6). Tough start in Madison - Wisconsin gets Minnesota State this weekend.

Note: With the holiday weekend coming up, and the off weekend for Michigan State, updates will likely be light this week. Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Spartans Battle RedHawks to 2-2 Tie

The Spartans have been looking for ways to end the Friday curse. Michigan State entered this weekend with only one win the entire season (1-4) on Fridays. Michigan State also had lost five straight against Miami being outscored 20-2 in the process.

Chalk it up as another gritty effort, as the Spartans battled all night and rallied from a 2-0 deficit to earn the 2-2 tie. Miami ended up picking up the extra point in the shoot-out (2-0). This game means Michigan State is now 4-5-2 on the season (3-3-1-0 CCHA, 10 points).

Alex Gacek got the scoring started at the 11:15 mark of the first period to give Miami a 1-0 lead. Miami built that lead up to 2-0 just 5:47 into the second period, and it looked like the Miami curse was going to continue.

Matt Berry responded though at the 7:38 mark to score his fourth goal in his last two games to pull the Spartans back to within one. Jake Chelios then ripped a shot on the power play with 1:07 to go in the period to pull Michigan State even with Miami. The shots through two periods of play were 17-14 in favor of Miami (MSU held a 9-6 edge in the opening period). Freshman goaltender Jake Hildebrand stood tall in the second period keeping MSU in the game. In the final period, Miami carried quite a bit of the play, but the Spartans defense improved and the goalkeeping was strong once again. Miami held a 8-6 edge in shots in the 3rd period.

In overtime, both teams had a chance to end it, but the goalkeepers made big saves. Miami had a 2-1 edge in shots in the overtime period and the total for the game 27-21.

Miami then would take the extra point by winning the shoot-out 2-0. Barber and Wideman scored for the RedHawks. Barber's goal was initially waived off, but after a short review, the officials determined the puck did go in the net. Berry and Sorensen missed for Michigan State.

Overall, it was a strong defensive game by both teams. While the Spartans are happy to get any points, it's a little disappointing to give up the extra one in a shoot-out. Both teams will meet again on Saturday night at 7:05 pm. The game can be heard on 1240 am starting at 6:30 pm.

Stop the Presses: Inside MSU-Miami

A look around the world of the press on the MSU-Miami series:

The Lansing State Journal offers up a (very) brief summary on the series

The Miami Student takes a look at the series

The State News article on the series

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Coach Anastos Announces Two Signees For Fall 2013

Earlier today Michigan State and Coach Anastos announced the addition of two new Spartans for the fall of 2013.

The Spartans officially welcomed Joe Cox (Chelsea, MI) and JT Stenglein (Greece, NY) to the Spartan family. They will join Mackenzie MacEachern (Troy, MI) as the recruiting class of 2013.

Each of these players bring a need to the table, whether it's solid defense, size, a physical presence, or a scoring touch - between the three of them, they should all have strong careers at Michigan State.

Click on the article above for more information.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Know Thy Enemy: Miami (NTM)

The Michigan State Spartans hit the road once again to face-off against Miami(Not That Miami), better known as Miami(OH) or Miami in hockey circles. The RedHawks are trying to cap the final CCHA season with a regular season title. They are off to a good start as they sit in first place in the CCHA with a 3-2-1-1 league and 6-2-2 overall record. They are a young team as well featuring ten freshman. They are currently ranked 4th in the latest poll.

Miami swept Michigan State last year during the regular season and playoffs. Miami won the pair in Munn (2-1 (ot), 4-0) and the playoff series in Oxford (6-0, 4-1). Michigan State holds the all-time series edge 68-31-5, and that includes a 28-13-2 mark at Miami. The problem is Miami has dominated the series of late winning seven of the last nine games (including the last five games by a combined score of 20-2). Safe to say, Michigan State is trying to reverse the trend this year.

Miami is unbeaten in its last three games (2-0-1) after beating Northern 5-2 and then skating to a 2-2 tie the next night (Miami picked up the extra point in the shoot-out).

The Friday night game starts at 7:35 pm and Saturday's face-off is scheduled for 7:05 pm.

Top Scorers

Riley Barber      5 goals, 14 points
Austin Czarnik  6 goals, 13 points
Blake Coleman  4 goals, 6 points
Cody Murphy    4 goals, 6 points
Alex Wideman  2 goals, 5 points
Curtis McKenzie  2 goals, 5 points


Jay Williams  5-2-1,  2.50 GAA, .911 save %
Ryan McKay  1-0-1, 0.46 GAA, .984 save %   (injured at Michigan)

Miami's power play has converted 20.4% of its chances, and the PK has stopped 86.8%. Miami's opening period has been their worst getting outscored 10-9. Miami though has outscored opponents in the second (9-3) and third (11-8) periods. Miami is averaging 31.5 shots on goal a game and allowing 28.8.

Final Thoughts

Miami has been trying to reach the mountain top under Coach Blasi. They've been close - going to the Frozen Four twice under Coach Blasi (the only two appearances in school history). Their first visit to the Frozen Four ended in heart break. Back in 2009, Miami was up 3-1 on Boston University in the national championship game with one minute to go in the game. Then - this happened:

That finish lead to one of the more unluckiest game ending goals (in the eyes of a Miami fan at least)

If it weren't for bad luck, you'd have no luck at all.....

The fact remains that Coach Blasi has built up an impressive program in Oxford. He was hired back in the 1999 - 2000 season. Prior to his arrival, Miami had won 1 CCHA title (1992-93), 0 tournament titles, made 2 NCAA tournament appearances (1993, 1997), and had zero Frozen Four appearances. Since his hire, Miami has won 2 CCHA titles (2005-06, 2009-10), 1 tournament title (2011), made 8 NCAA tournament appearances (including seven in a row - since 2006), and 2 Frozen Four appearances. It's safe to say that Miami isn't far from the mountain top. With the great mix of youth and seniors they have on this team, they might be able to make a run in the spring time - but the future remains bright as they move to the NCHC next season. 

Michigan State's youth will be tested this game. The Spartans need to figure out this Friday & Saturday thing, so much so Coach Anastos has jokingly said that MSU will be playing doubleheaders on Saturday from now on. I wonder if he still has any pull in the commissioner's office. Seriously though, Michigan State is 1-4-0 on Friday night's this year getting outscored 17-7 in those games. The lone win was a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Niagara on October 19th. On the flip side, MSU is 3-1-1 on Saturday outscoring teams 21-14 on Friday, and if you take away the Minnesota game, that record goes to 3-0-1 with the goal margin 20-7.

Miami has been a tough match-up lately for Michigan State, but the Spartans finally are getting some size on the ice to help negate one of the biggest advantages Miami always has had. I wouldn't expect anything less than an all-out effort from both teams that should lead to a pair of exciting games.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weekend Recap: Spartans Split With Michigan

The season long trend continued this weekend as the Michigan State Spartans split the weekend series with rival Michigan.

Friday Night

Michigan used three unanswered goals in the final period, including two in the final five minutes to pull away from Michigan State for a 5-1 victory. Michigan got on the board early scoring a pair of first period goals less than four minutes apart from each other to build a 2-0 lead. Michigan dominated the opening period out-shooting the Spartans 15-5. Michigan State got stronger as the game went along, settling in for a good second period, and Kevin Walrod pulled the Spartans to within one with a late marker. The Spartans out-shot Michigan 13-9 in the middle stanza. The final period Michigan got up 3-1 4:09 into the period on a goal by Derek DeBlois, and that goal seemingly put the game out of reach. Kevin Lynch and Jacob Trouba added the insurance goals late in the period. Will Yanakeff ended the game with 29 saves. Michigan went 1-4 on the power play, and the Spartans went 0-2.

Saturday Night

The season long trend continued, as Michigan State rebounded with an impressive 7-2 victory over Michigan in front of a record crowd at Munn Ice Arena (7,225). It didn't take long for the Spartans to get going as Matt Berry put Michigan State ahead 1-0 just 34 seconds into the game. MSU would score the next two goals as Brent Darnell tallied a power play goal and Anthony Hayes put MSU up 3-0 just 23 seconds after Darnell's goal. The game wasn't seven minutes old, but the Spartans held a 3-0 lead. The wild first period continued as Michigan scored a power play goal at the 7:54 mark, and Matt Berry added his second goal of the game with a power play goal 10:42 into the game. The final period ended with MSU up 4-1. The Spartans out-shot the Wolverines 16-11.

Michigan got the scoring going in the second period, but Matt Berry completed his hat-trick at the 15:08 mark of the second period to give MSU a three goal lead once again. Michigan out-shot the Spartans 16-6 in the middle period.

The final period belonged to Michigan State as Matt DeBlouw and Kevin Walrod rounded out the scoring to give Michigan State the 7-2 victory. Michigan out-shot Michigan State 15-7 in the final period, and freshman Jake Hildebrand made 40 saves for his first career victory over Michigan. The Spartans went 2-7 with the extra man, and Michigan went 1-7.

Around The CCHA

There were no clean sweeps in the CCHA this weekend, though two teams did earn five points. Western Michigan defeated Bowling Green 3-1 on Friday, but they needed a shoot-out on Saturday to earn the extra point. Miami needed a shoot-out on Saturday as well to earn the extra point over Northern, but Miami did earn the full three points on Friday with a 5-2 victory. Lake Superior downed Ferris 4-1 on Friday before the Bulldogs earned the road split the next night 2-1. Ohio State won in a shoot-out over Alaska on Friday, but the Nanooks won 3-1 on Saturday. Finally, in the only non-conference game, the Irish lost at Boston College 3-1 on Friday.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Notre Dame431009165
Ferris State633009159
LSSU 633009159
Michigan State633009159
Western Michigan421118164
Ohio State411216162
Bowling Green612216156
Northern Michigan613205155

Games This Week:


Notre Dame at Michigan


Ferris State at Bowling Green
Michigan State at Miami
Northern Michigan at Ohio State
Western Michigan at Alaska
Notre Dame at Michigan
Alabama-Huntsville at LSSU


Ferris State at Bowling Green
Michigan State at Miami
Northern Michigan at Ohio State
Western Michigan at Alaska
Alabama-Huntsville at LSSU

A tough series awaits Michigan State, as Miami hasn't lost at home yet this season. Besides this series, Notre Dame and Michigan should be a good one to watch as well as Western Michigan and Alaska. The Nanooks quietly sit in second place, so this will be a good test to see if they can contend this season.

CCHA Power Rankings:

1. Western Michigan (5-2-1, LW: 2). The Broncos climb back on top after an unbeaten weekend. A strong road test awaits.

2. Miami (6-2-2, LW: 3). Miami moves up one spot with an undefeated weekend as well.

3. Notre Dame (6-3-0, LW: 3). Critical Pairwise points may have been lost on the East Coast, but the Irish must refocus with a tough league road series this weekend.

4. Alaska (5-3-2, LW: 6). Are the Nanooks for real? We will see this upcoming weekend.

5. Ferris State (4-4-2, LW: 4). The Bulldogs are looking to build a winning streak after another split.

6. LSSU (5-5-0, LW: 8) The Lakers are looking for a bit of consistency as well. A non-conference series that they can build on awaits them.

7. Michigan State (4-5-1, LW: 9). The Spartans move ahead of Michigan based on an 8-7 total goal victory this weekend.

8. Michigan (5-4-0, LW: 5). For a team most people expected to contend for a CCHA and even a national title, the Wolverines have way too many question marks at this point in the season.

9. Northern Michigan (4-4-2, LW: 7). Getting a point in Oxford isn't easy, but the Wildcats are digging a hole early on in the CCHA.

10.  Ohio State (2-3-3, LW: 10). Not much really separates most of the CCHA, and the Buckeyes certainly could be higher. They can't afford to give up many home points though.

11. Bowling Green (2-6-3, LW: 11). They put up a fight, but Western just had too much this weekend.

Big Ten Power Rankings:

1. Minnesota (6-2-1, LW: 1). The Gophers continue along their way with a win and tie at Anchorage.

2. Michigan State (4-5-1, LW: 4). The total goal victory moves MSU past Michigan, and I'm still skeptical of Penn State's early success.

3. Michigan (5-4-0, LW: 2). Michigan is off to a rocky start once again - but Michigan fans have come to known the few things you can guarantee: Death, Taxes, and a 2nd half run by a Coach Berenson team.

4. Penn State (6-3-0, LW: 3). Another split with a win over Air Force. PSU gets this weekend off.

5. Ohio State (2-3-3, LW: 5). The Buckeyes continue to look to take a step forward.

6. Wisconsin (1-4-1, LW: 6). Another early weekend off for the Badgers - can they turn around next weekend in Minnesota?