Saturday, February 11, 2012

Michigan Edges MSU in OT

Matt Crandell tried to play a loose puck, but it slipped underneath him which left Kevin Lynch all alone in front of Yanakeff, and he didn't miss sending Michigan out with a 3-2 overtime victory.

The game started slow for the Spartans, as Michigan really  came out playing with a chip on their shoulder. They took the 1-0 lead just 12 minutes into the game as Treais tallied the first of two on the night. At that moment, Michigan State actually woke up a little bit and started to carry the play a little bit more. The momentum was built at the end of the period and it carried over as MSU struck twice in the first 6:14 of the second period. First Greg Wolfe tied the game with a blast over Hunwick, and Perlini put MSU up 2-1 on the power play with a nice goal at the goal line - catching Hunwick leaning a little bit.

The lead didn't last long though as Treais tallied his second of the night catching Yanakeff going to his left - and sending the shot to his right past the blocker. The game stayed that way through regulation, though both teams had numerous chances to take the lead as Yanakeff and Hunwick stole the show.

Yanakeff ended the game with 32 saves and Hunwick had 33. There were only 3 power plays in the game, MSU went 1 for 2, and Michigan went 0-1. State had a power play with six minutes to go in regulation, but Michigan did a good job killing it off.

The Spartans will return home next weekend for their final home series of the regular season as they host Alaska. Friday night will start at 7:05 pm, and Saturday's game will start at 8:05 pm, with the senior night activities taking place at 7:45 pm. Saturday's game is on FS Detroit as part of the Hockey Day in Michigan cover.

The CCHA Race Begins To Clear Up

Ferris State is now in the driver's seat for the CCHA title, as they host last place Bowling Green. A sweep by Ferris State will eliminate everyone but Western Michigan and Michigan - and both those teams could be eliminated depending on how they do next weekend. Western has a tough road up to the Soo, and Michigan hosts a pesky Northern Michigan squad.

What still is cloudy as all heck will be the rest of the positions. Michigan State falls to 5th place right now, and if LSSU earns just 1 point tonight in Alaska, MSU will drop to 6th place. The significance of that is 5th place is the final first round bye spot. The team that finishes 5th gets a bye, though they will have to play the quarterfinal series on the road. MSU right now holds the tiebreaker over LSSU (conference wins). MSU remains only two points ahead of Northern Michigan - who sits in 9th place. That is important, since 9th place means you are starting the first round on the road. Now, Ohio State sits just one point ahead of MSU, and the Spartans still have two games on hand.

1. Ferris   47 points  (4 games left)
2. WMU  42 points  (4 games left)
3. Michigan 41 points (4 games left)
4. Ohio State 39 points (2 games left)
5. LSSU    38 points (5 games left)
6. MSU     38 points (4 games left)
7. N.D.      36 points (4 games left)
8. Miami   36 points (4 games left)
9. NMU    36 points  (4 games left)
10. Alaska  27 points (3 games left)
11. BGSU   19 points (4 games left)

Projecting The Rest Of The Way

If I had to take a guess at how this thing will play out  (Alaska beats LSSU tonight):

Next Weekend:

Alaska at Michigan State   (MSU sweeps)
BGSU at Ferris State  (FSU sweeps)
WMU at LSSU   (split)
Notre Dame at Miami  (split)
Northern at Michigan  (UM sweeps)

1.  FSU  53
2. UoM  47
3. WMU 45
4. MSU 44
5. LSSU 41 
6. UND  39
7. M(OH) 39
8. OSU   39
9. NMU  36
10. Alaska 27
11 BGSU 19

Michigan State at Notre Dame  (split)
Michigan at Bowling Green  (UM sweeps)
Miami at/vs. Ohio State (split)
LSSU at Northern  (split)
WMU at/vs. Ferris   (split)

1. FSU  56 
2. UoM 53
3. WMU 48
4. MSU  47
5. LSSU 44
6. M(OH) 42  (13 wins)
7. UND  42  (13 wins)
8. OSU  42  (12 wins)
9. NMU 39
10. Alaska 27
11. BGSU

I didn't get too deep into the tiebreakers for that 3-way tie. Ohio State probably would be last with fewest conference wins. At that point it's Miami and Notre Dame - who split the season series in this case. For the sake of getting through this, we'll just give Miami the 6 spot. So if this happens, MSU would get a bye and host a quarterfinal series. Not only that, I think that sets up nicely if MSU were to manage to get to the Joe and the seeds hold. I'd take a Ferris State semi-final match-up. The first round in this situation would be:

BGSU at Miami
Alaska at Notre Dame
Northern at Ohio State

If the seeds hold.... The quarters would be:

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

There are some terrific quarterfinal match-ups. Each of those series  could be something to see. 

But for now, the focus turns to Alaska. MSU has to come ready to go. The NCAA tournament is still out there, and I think it's going to be critical for MSU to win 3 of their remaining 4 regular season games - plus win a series in the CCHA tournament. MSU is in a tie for 11th in the PairWise with some games yet to go tonight. 

Tomorrow and Monday we will take a further look at the NCAA tournament, as well as begin to focus on the Nanooks.

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