Thursday, February 16, 2012

A Look At The Weekend Ahead - The Fighting Polar Bears

The Alaska Nanooks come into town looking to finish their CCHA schedule strong. For the fighting polar bear reference, feel free to scan down to Monday's post. They come into the weekend in 10th place in the CCHA with a 8-14-4-2 conference mark (11-15-4 overall). Based on CCHA tiebreakers, Alaska cannot finish higher than 9th place in the CCHA, so they will be starting on the road in the first round of the playoffs. That means this weekend will be important to build some confidence to end the year (they play Alaska-Anchorage next week).

Leading Scorers:

Cody Kunyk (So.)    13 goals, 28 points
Colton Beck (So.)    12 goals, 23 points
Andy Taranto (Jr.)     9 goals, 20 points
Carlo Finucci (Sr.)    4 goals, 18 points
Aaron Gens    (Sr.)   2 goals, 18 points

A couple other guys to look out for are juniors Nik Yaremchuk (9 goals) and Jarret Granberg (10 goals).


 Scott Greenham  10-13-4, 2.47 GAA, .905 save %

Scott's conference numbers are very similar to his overall stats. His conference GAA is 2.57, and his save percentage is .903.

Team Comparison:


Alaska   2.47 goals/game  (10th CCHA)
State     3.09 goals/game (2nd CCHA)


Alaska   2.60 goals/game (7th CCHA)
State       2.62 goals/game (8th CCHA)

Power Play:

Alaska    16.5%  (8th CCHA, 23 for 139)
State       17.4%  (7th CCHA, 21 for 121)

Penalty Kill:

Alaska   80.7%  (11th CCHA, 109 for 135)
State      89.4%  (1st CCHA, 110 for 123)

Looking at the PK numbers, with how Michigan State's power play seems to be on a roll of late, it looks like MSU should have a big advantage. It'll be interesting to watch how Alaska adjusts to the small ice surface (The Nanooks play on an olympic sized rink). Most people think it's tougher to go from a large ice sheet to a smaller one, but one would think on defense, it would help the Nanooks out a little bit - especially on the PK.

Alaska's scoring (25-22-27) is fairly balanced between each period, but it looks like the second period has caused some problems on defense (23-30-23), as they have been outscored that period 30-22.

Size will be in the Nanooks' corner this weekend. Alaska has split their last four series (BGSU, ND, @ WMU, LSSU).

Michigan State leads the all-time series 39-15-3. 

MSU has scored 99 goals so far this season. It's time to play - guess who will score #100 on the season (feel free to share your guess in the comments below - Krug could be an obvious choice, but I'll go with Perlini).

Honoring The Seniors

Saturday will mark the final regular season game for nine MSU seniors.  The game isn't scheduled to start until 8:05 pm, but the senior night activities will take place at 7:30 pm.

Here is a nice write up by Neil Koepke

This class certainly has gone through a lot, including a coaching change. They were brought on campus after a national title. They've had their share of ups and downs, but the one thing that no one can take away from them is their hard work, and ability to represent the university extremely well during their careers. They are Spartans, and they have brought the program back this season, given it an identity, and lead the program with honor.

And with still a lot of time left in the season, a top four spot in the CCHA on the line, a NCAA tournament bid on the line, you know they'll leave it all out on the ice.

Final Thoughts

This should be the type of series that the team that works the hardest will be in position to win. The numbers might favor MSU, but they'll need to come play for 120 minutes. The obvious point to make is they'll need to avoid the letdown after an emotional, hard-fought series last weekend. This is where the crowd could become a major factor. Expect a couple of close battles. Share your thoughts on the poll on the right - how do you think they'll do this weekend?

TV & Radio Coverage:

Both games are on 1240 AM & The Spartan Sports Network.  Saturday's game is on FS Detroit as part of their hockey day in Michigan coverage. Ben Holden & Darren Elliot will do the play by play.

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