Sunday, October 28, 2012

Spartans Split Series at Lake Superior

As a young squad goes on the road this season, any points they pick up could be seen as a positive. The CCHA expects to be a very competitive league, so road points won't be easy to come by this year. The Spartans managed to earn three of six possible points this weekend by splitting the series with LSSU.

Friday Night

Special teams ruled the night as three of the five goals scored were with the extra attacker. LSSU jumped out to a 2-0 second period lead on goals by Ben Power and Nick McParland just 3:39 apart. Tanner Sorenson brought MSU back to within 1 with a power play tally late in the second period. However, LSSU scored just as the period was about to end to take a two goal lead into the final period.

Sorenson's goal was pretty big considering it was the first goal Michigan State has scored this season before the third period. The final frame continued to be a bright spot for MSU, as the Spartans played hard and Anthony Hayes brought Michigan State back to within one with 4:26 remaining in regulation, but LSSU managed to hang on for the 3-2 victory.

LSSU out-shot Michigan State 29-24 for the game. The Lakers went 2-4 on the power play, and MSU went 1-5. Yanakeff made 26 saves in a losing effort.

Saturday Night

Michigan State had never lost four straight games at the Soo, and the Spartans were trying to avoid this by picking up the win on Saturday. John Draeger got the game going with a power play marker in the first period to put Michigan State up 1-0. This was the first goal MSU has scored in the opening period this season. Tanner Sorenson made it 2-0 on the power play in the second period. Chris Ciotti pulled the Lakers to within 1 with a late 2nd period goal. However, Michigan State controlled the play in the final period as Matt Berry and Anthony Hayes put Michigan State up 4-1. The Lakers added an extra attacker goal late in the final period to make the final 4-2 MSU. Jake Hildebrand earned his first collegiate victory making 28 saves in his first career start.

The Spartans power play was clicking going 3-6 on the night to wrap up a pretty good 4-11 weekend. LSSU was 0-4 with the extra man.

The Spartans have a home & home with Bowling Green next weekend. LSSU vists Alaska.

Final Thoughts: The Spartans are going to need to get every point they can. They almost pulled off a comeback on Friday to potentially steal a point away from the Lakers. However, they regrouped and came back the next night to win and get the split.  The schedule is going to get a little tougher. A home and home against Bowling Green is followed up by another one with Michigan and a road trip to Miami.

Around the CCHA
Miami at Michigan: The Wolverines won 4-2 on Friday, before Miami comeback to earn the split with a 4-3 win on Saturday.

Notre Dame at Northern: The lone clean sweep of the weekend saw the Irish go up north and defeat Northern Michigan 5-2, 3-2.

Alaska at Ferris State: The Nanooks managed to earn a split with a 3-2 win on Saturday. The Bulldogs dominated Friday night in a 6-3 victory.

Ohio State at BGSU: The Buckeyes earned four out of a possible six points shutting out Bowling Green 1-0 on Friday before dropping a shoot-out on Saturday.  

CCHA Standings:

GP W L T SOW Points Total Points Possible
Notre Dame 2 2 0 0 0 6 168
Ohio State 2 1 1 1 0 4 166
Alaska 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Ferris State 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Lake Superior State 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Miami 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Michigan 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Michigan State 2 1 1 0 0 3 165
Bowling Green 2 0 1 1 1 2 164
Western Michigan 0 0 0 0 0 0 168
Northern Michigan 2 0 2 0 0 0 162

Games Next Weekend:


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


Michigan State at Bowling Green
Miami at Ferris State
Michigan at Northern Michigan
LSSU at Alaska


Western Michigan at Notre Dame

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Notre Dame (5-1-0, LW: 2). The Irish rise back to the top after sweeping a road series at Northern.

2. Miami (4-1-1, LW: 1). Miami falls from ranks of the unbeaten teams, but they earn a big road split in Ann Arbor.

3. Western Michigan (3-1-0, LW: 3). The Broncos have a big road series coming up.

4. Michigan (3-2-0, LW: 4). The Wolverines are looking to put together back to back nights in the same weekend, but a road trip to Marquette won't be easy.

5. Alaska (3-2-1, LW: 6). The Nanooks earned a split in the lower 48, and now they return how where they are difficult to beat.

6. Ferris State (2-2-2, LW: 7). If Ferris State wants to be a player in the top half of the league, this weekend coming up will go a long ways to showing they can do it.

7. LSSU (3-3-0, LW: 8). The Lakers make the long trek west.

8. Michigan State (2-3-1, LW: 9). The Spartans earn a road split in a tough league.

9. Northern Michigan (3-3-0, LW: 5). Getting swept at home never is a good thing.

10. Ohio State (2-2-2, LW: 10).  .500 seems to be a running theme in the CCHA.

11. Bowling Green (1-4-2, LW: 11). Not a terrible weekend getting two points, but losing more points than winning at home won't help in what is going to be a tight conference race.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (3-1-0, LW: 1). The Gophers play a non-conference game against Canisius today, but a tie against the USA Development team certainly is going to raise an eyebrow.

2. Michigan (3-2-0, LW: 2). Michigan earned a tough split against a good Miami team.

3. Penn State (4-2-0, LW: 5). Some people might say they haven't beaten anyone, but they have won three straight which constitutes being on a roll right now. Plus, they now have the second highest winning percentage among Big 10 teams.

4. Michigan State (2-3-1, LW: 3). The Spartans look to get on a roll of their own next weekend.

5. Wisconsin (1-2-1, LW: 4). The Badgers won and tied at UMD.

6. Ohio State (2-2-2, LW: 6). The Buckeyes went unbeaten this weekend, and now have a weekend off before back to back home series - could a winning streak be coming?

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Know Thy Enemy: Lake Superior

The CCHA season gets in full swing with five series. Michigan State will travel up to the Soo to take on LSSU this weekend for a pair of games.

Michigan State was swept at the Soo last season dropping a pair of one-goal games

The Lakers are entering a key part of their schedule - coming off of three road games. LSSU plays eight of their next ten at home, with three of those series being CCHA teams. It'll be extra important, because Notre Dame and Miami road series follow this stretch of games - so the schedule gets tougher.

LSSU is 2-2 on the season so far splitting a series with Michigan Tech and Bemidji State. LSSU beat Bemidji last weekend 2-0 before dropping the second contest 5-0.

CCHA History

This series marks the final time that Michigan State and LSSU will cross paths in a regular season CCHA series. The conference was founded in 1971, and LSSU was one of the early members admitted into the league coming in the following year in 1972. The Lakers have won three national titles (tied w/ MSU) with the last coming in 1994. They've made it to four Frozen Fours (last time in 1994), and they have been to the NCAA tournament ten times (1996). They last won a CCHA Championship in 1995-1996. LSSU finished last year in seventh place in the CCHA standings with 41 points, only one point out of 6th, and six points behind MSU for 5th.

Know (some of) the Players

Domenic Monardo (Sr.)        2 goals, 6 points
Chris Ciotti (So.)                   1 goal, 3 points
Six Players Tied with 2 points


Kevin Kapalka (Jr.) 
Record: 2-2-0
GAA:  3.83
Save %:  .881

All-Time Series Notes:

Michigan State leads 68-34-13

Michigan State leads at LSSU 23-16-6

LSSU is 4-3-3 against MSU over the last 10 meetings

LSSU won both meetings at LSSU last season

LSSU hasn't won three in a row at home against Michigan State since October 14, 1988 (2-19-88, 2-20-88) 

Early Thoughts:

Historically, LSSU isn't the type of team that will light up the scoreboard, but they are always very tough to beat at home. LSSU's size certainly will test the Spartans this year, and the youth needs to show that they can play better on the road. It might be a little too obvious to say that the Spartans need to be able to put the puck in the net earlier in the game - zero goals before the third period this year isn't a stat you want to continue for very long. 
If MSU can keep the game low scoring, defensive, and limit the power play opportunities it gives up, Michigan State should be able to come away with points this weekend - which would be a nice start for a young team. The CCHA is deep this year, so it would be surprising to see anyone really run away with the conference, so every point you can pick up on the road is critical.

Monday, October 22, 2012

MSU Fans in Northern - Lower Michigan: Meet the Spartans Event

Michigan State heads up to LSSU this upcoming weekend, but before they get there, they will be stopping to have a practice in Cheboygan - and MSU fans can attend.

The event is scheduled for this Thursday, October 25th at Ralph G. Cantile Arena from 5 - 7 pm. The practice is open to the public, and it will conclude around 6:15 pm at which time players and coaches will be available on the ice for photos and autographs.

The Spartans take on Lake Superior to kick off the final season in the CCHA.

Michigan State leads the all-time series with LSSU holding a 68-34-13 overall edge. The series is much closer in the Soo as MSU holds a slim 23-16-6 edge. The Lakers swept the series last year in the Soo posting 5-4 and 3-2 victories last October. MSU defeated and tied LSSU last year at Munn.

Interesting factoid: LSSU is 3-0 against Michigan State in shoot-outs.

Interesting factoid #2: MSU has not lost 3 straight at LSSU since a 5-2 loss October 14, 1988. This was preceded by a 5-4 loss on February 20, 1988 and a 7-3 loss on February 19, 1988. Michigan State has never lost four straight at LSSU.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Weekend Recap: Spartans Rally Twice

Call them the comeback kids.

Ever since Coach Anastos came to East Lansing, the Spartans have taken an attack attitude when it comes to their game plan. The other thing that Spartan fans have come to expect is 60 minutes of effort, no matter what the score was. This weekend it proved to be beneficial, as each night Niagara jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two periods of play, and each night MSU rallied.

Friday Night

The Spartans thoroughly dominated Niagara in the third period out-shooting them 20-4. It took three goals roughly 6 minutes apart from each other for Michigan State to rally for a 3-2 victory. Jake Chelios, Lee Reimer, and Matt Berry tallied the goals. Berry's goal came with a two man advantage and was the game winner. Will Yanakeff made 22 saves in the win.

Saturday Night

The Spartans rallied twice, first from a 2-0 deficit on goals by Greg Wolfe and Matt DeBlouw that were 4:59 apart. Niagara retook the lead with 8:22 remaining in regulation on a mishandled puck behind the Spartan net. The puck bounced off of Will Yanakeff's stick right to Dan Kolenda in front of the net. Michigan State wasn't done yet though as Brent Darnell provided the late heroics scoring the game tying goal with 49 seconds remaining. The game ended in a 3-3 tie, as MSU out-shot Niagara 38-34. Will Yanakeff made 31 saves. The two teams decided to break the tie with a shoot-out (though the game officially goes down as a tie). Brent Darnell provided the only scoring as MSU won the shoot-out 1-0. 

MSU is now 1-2-1 on the year. The Spartans head to LSSU next weekend to open up CCHA play.

CCHA Action:

Another full weekend of non-conference action is in the books, and there was a wide range of results.

Michigan defeated Bentley 6-3 in its only match-up this week. Bowling Green split with Colgate winning Friday and dropping Saturday's contest. Western Michigan swept Canisius at home this weekend. LSSU split with Bemijdi State, Alaska beat Merrimack and North Dakota, Ferris State won and tied against Mercyhurst, Northern Michigan split at UNO, Ohio State tied and lost to Quinnipiac, Miami defeated and tied Providence, and Notre Dame split a home series against UMD this weekend.

This upcoming week CCHA action gets underway across the board:

Ohio State at Bowling Green
Alaska at Ferris State
Michigan State at LSSU
Notre Dame at Northern Michigan
Miami at Michigan

 Off: Western Michigan

CCHA Power Rankings:

1. Miami (3-0-1, LW: 2). Miami remains the only unbeaten CCHA team, but that streak will be tested this week at Michigan.

2. Notre Dame (3-1-0, LW: 1). The Irish had a tough home split this weekend - a road trip up north could help them get back on track.

3. Western Michigan (3-1-0, LW: 3). The Broncos held serve at home, and now they get some time off before a big early series against the Irish.

4. Michigan (2-1-0, LW: 4). A big CCHA test comes to town this weekend.

5. Northern Michigan (3-1-0, LW: 5). Northern can make a statement this weekend when the Irish come to visit.

6. Alaska (2-1-1, LW: 9). The Nanooks had a great weekend, but now they must leave to the lower 48 and show that they can win on the road.

7. Ferris State (1-1-2, LW: 6). The Bulldogs still have some question marks, and they face an improved Nanook team this weekend.

8. LSSU (2-2-0, LW: 7). The Lakers split another weekend series. Last year they got off to a good start in the CCHA with an early sweep of Michigan State, and now the Spartans are back in town.

9. Michigan State (1-2-1, LW: 10). Good news/bad news..... Good News: Michigan State showed some character in a win and tie against Niagara. Bad News: The Spartans have yet to tally a goal before the third period this season.

10. Ohio State (1-2-1, LW: 9). The Buckeyes are looking to string some good weekends together.

11. Bowling Green (1-3-1, LW: 11). Now that all the CCHA teams have victories, the Falcons want to show the league that they will be a force this year.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (3-1-0, LW: 1). A weekend split against Michigan Tech raised some eyebrows.

2. Michigan (2-1-0, LW: 2). Michigan looks to build on a two game winning streak.

3. Michigan State (1-2-1, LW: 5). Can the Spartans do it on the road?

4. Wisconsin (0-2-0, LW: 4). Bucky stays put after an off week.

5. Penn State (2-2-0, LW: 6). Not sure what to make of PSU right now, a loss at D-III Buffalo State followed by a road win at RIT. RIT beat Michigan at Yost this year.

6. Ohio State (1-2-1, LW: 3). Ohio State remains a sleeping giant.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Short Term Memory Loss - Focus Moves To Niagara

Rough weekend.

You really cannot sugarcoat a weekend in which you lose by a combine score of 12-2, so let's not try. We learned two things... well not really, but two things were pretty much confirmed: Minnesota is really, really good, and Michigan State has a long way to go.

The good news is this really could be the best team MSU sees all season, but you can't really just say that and ignore what happened. The key now will be to see how Michigan State rebounds against Niagara.

I guess MSU fans feel a little like Wile E. Coyote after that weekend

But it is only two games, so as long as MSU looks to and continues to improve, this weekend will become a distant memory. 

A Look Ahead:

Michigan State welcomes the Niagara Purple People Eaters into town this weekend. They are 1-1-1 on the year with a tie against Bowling Green (2-2), a loss at Colgate (10-2), and a win against Mercyhurst (2-1). So the goal becomes clear - score three goals each night.

The Purple Eagles begin a four game road swing here in East Lansing - they are at Clarkson next weekend. A series like this could go a long ways come March (should that become a factor). Basically, win as many non-conference games as possible, and this is another chance for MSU to do it. Niagara has six players with two points leading the way early on, but senior Giancarlo Iuorio leads the team with a pair of goals. They have used three goals in four games, but junior Carson Chubak has started in two games, and he is 1-0-1 this year allowing just three goals on 62 shots. 

The all-time series is a deep and rich one between these two schools........ they have played just two games, but the rivalry is fierce as the all-time series is tied 1-1. They played back in 2002 where Niagara won the opening night at Munn before MSU salvaged a split with an overtime victory the next night. 

Both games are on at 7:05 pm, and Friday night's contest is on Comcast TV.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Weekend Recap: Spartans Blitzed

It's a new season, and starting the year off with double digit freshmen, you can probably expect a lot of highs and lows this season. The good news for Spartan fans is that they have nowhere to go but up right now. The Spartans were blitzed at Minnesota this weekend losing 5-1 and 7-1. On Friday, Michigan State looked like they got stronger as the game went along, despite what the score might tell you. Saturday was a different story though as Minnesota kept pouring it on. The Gophers jumped out to a 3-0 lead on Friday, and they managed to top themselves with a 4-0 opening period the second night. The second didn't start out much better for MSU as the Gophers tallied the 5th goal of the night just 30 seconds into the period. Brent Darnell broke up the shutout early on in the third period, but MSU was simply out classed in this one. Will Yanakeff had 18 saves (6 GA) in two periods of play. Jake Hildebrand saw his first action of his college career playing the final frame giving up 1 goal on 9 shots.

Michigan State returns home next weekend to take on Niagara in another non-conference series. Right now MSU has a lot to work on, so it will be interesting to see the level of improvement from week to week.

Around the CCHA

Only three CCHA teams got through the weekend undefeated. Miami swept Colgate (3-0, 5-1), Northern Michigan swept Wisconsin (2-1, 4-2), and Notre Dame beat Maine (1-0) and UNO (3-2) at the Icebreaker tournament.

Alaska, BGSU, and Ferris State went winless this weekend. Alaska lost to Canisius (3-1), and tied Air Force (3-3). BGSU was swept by Union (5-3, 4-1), and Ferris State lost and tied at Rensselaer (3-1, 2-2).

LSSU, Michigan, Ohio State, and Western Michigan all split. LSSU beat Michigan Tech at home 4-2, but lost at Tech 8-4. Michigan split a home series with RIT losing the opener in OT (5-4) before winning the next night 7-2. Ohio State split at UMD losing 6-2 the first night and winning 3-2 the second night. Western lost the opener at home against St. Lawrence in OT (4-3), but won 3-2 the next night.

CCHA Power Rankings:

 1. Notre Dame (2-0-0, LW: 3). The two teams in front losing moves them up, but the Irish played well this weekend. A Thursday-Friday home series against UMD awaits the Irish this upcoming weekend.

2. Miami (2-0-0, LW: 5). A good home series to start off the season in Oxford, and Miami looks to continue the home dominance with a series against Providence coming up.

3. Western Michigan (1-1-0, LW: 1). A little surprised the Broncos lost at home to St. Lawrence. They'll get another chance to win a pair as Canisius comes back to the lower 48.

4. Michigan (1-1-0, LW: 2). It wasn't a good start at Yost, but Michigan's offense really overwhelmed RIT the next night. Michigan hosts Bentley in a single game on Friday.

5. Northern Michigan (2-0-0, LW: 7). A good series against Wisconsin at home, but let's see if Northern can do it on the road as they go to UNO this week.

6. Ferris State (0-1-1, LW: 6). Not the greatest weekend for the Bulldogs as many question marks remain.. They host Mercyhurst this week.

7.  LSSU (1-1-0, LW: 8). A split against Michigan Tech is no longer considered a bad weekend. They move on to Bemidji State this week.

8. Ohio State (1-1-0, LW: 9) The Buckeyes won a game at UMD, which could come in handy come March. They continue on the road this week at Quinnipiac.

9. Alaska (0-1-1, LW: 10) Although they didn't win, they showed some positive signs against Air Force. They get Merrimack & North Dakota at home this week.

10. Michigan State (0-2-0, LW: 4). A tough start in year two for Coach Anastos', but there is still a lot of season left to be played. MSU hosts Niagara this week.

11. Bowling Green (0-2-1, LW: 11). It's looking like another long year in Bowling Green. Let's see if a road series at Colgate could fix things.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (2-0-0, LW: 1). The NCAA has been put on notice.

2. Michigan (1-1-0, LW: 2). Can't move Michigan down because of what happened behind them.

3. Ohio State (1-1-0, LW: 5). The Buckeyes won a road game.

4. Wisconsin (0-2-0, LW: 4). Losing a pair at Northern isn't the worst thing in the world.

5. Michigan State (0-2-0, LW: 3). They did lose to the #1 team in the country.

6. Penn State (1-1-0, LW: 6). They did win - and congrats on that victory, but they lost & won in OT to a team that went 8-26-3 last year, 8-24-1 the year before, 8-24-1 the year before that (see a pattern?).

Friday, October 12, 2012

#1/2 Minnesota 5 Michigan State 1

The 2012-2013 season is underway, as Michigan State visited #1/#2 Minnesota for a weekend series.

Things didn't get off to the greatest start as Minnesota built a 3-0 lead in the first 13:38 of the opening period.  The Gophers out-shot MSU 13-5 in the first period. The Spartans went 0 for 1 with the extra man in the period.

The Spartans seemed to find their legs in the middle period, but Minnesota expanded the lead to 4-0 with 2:14 remaining in the period. The Gophers out-shot the Spartans 13-10 for the period. In the final frame, Michigan State got a few more chances early on, but they could not convert nor could they convert a couple more power play chances. Minnesota made it 5-0 on a two man advantage that they put six shots on goal. Will Yanakeff kept Minnesota off the board as long as possible, but they finally got one past him with a scrum in front.

Tanner Sorenson tallied the first goal for Michigan State with 4:01 to go in the game, and David Bondra got credited with the lone assist. Minnesota out-shot MSU 16-11 in the final period for a 42-26 edge in the game. The Spartans actually held a 32-30 edge in draws, and Yanakeff did play well in net despite giving up five goals. MSU finished 0 for 3 on the power play, and Minnesota was 1 for 2.

The two teams meet again tomorrow night at 9 pm Eastern.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Junior Greg Wolfe Named Captain

Coach Tom Anastos announced that junior forward Greg Wolfe was named Captain for the 2012 - 2013 season. Seniors Anthony Hayes, Chris Forfar, and Matt Grassi were named alternate captains.

With so many incoming freshman, Coach Anastos decided to wait until the first week of the regular season to officially name a captain, so all the players could have their input. Leadership on this team will be key this season, as the Spartans are breaking in so many new players.

Michigan State gets their season underway on Friday at #2 Minnesota.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Reader E-mail

A new feature for the 2012 - 2013 season: do you have a question that you would like to ask? Feel free to e-mail me on our new reader e-mail page. We will provide our thoughts and opinions on MSU and college hockey throughout the 2012 - 2013 season. The more e-mails, the more often we'll answer.

Go to the Reader E-mail page or Click here to e-mail me

Weekend Recap: Around The CCHA

The season got underway for college hockey this weekend. While most of the teams were playing exhibition games, there was one regular season game as Bowling Green kicked things off visiting Niagara University.

The Falcons are looking to improve on last season's 14-25-5 campaign, in which they actually started off unbeaten in their first five games (4-0-1). Niagara got things going late in the second period by tallying the first goal of the college hockey season. It didn't take long for Bowling Green to respond tallying a power play marked by Camden Wojtala just 1:43 later. The Falcons looked like they would get out of town with a 2-1 victory when Robert Shea put Bowling Green up with just 3:41 remaining in regulation, but Niagara's Chris Lochner tied the game up with 50 seconds to go. Neither team scored in overtime, though Bowling Green did out-shoot Niagara 5-0 in the extra session, and 36-30 for the game. Andrew Hammond made 28 saves for Bowling Green.

Bowling Green is back in action today against Ontario IT. Their next regular season game is this Friday versus 2012 Frozen Four participant Union.

The other CCHA teams where in exhibition action:

Alaska 6 Regina 0
LSSU 2 Ryerson 1
Western 2 Western Ontario 2 (OT)

 Today six more CCHA teams play exhibition contests:

Bowling Green vs. Ontario IT
Ferris State vs. Ryerson
Miami vs. Western Ontario
Notre Dame vs. US U-18 Team
Northern Michigan vs. Brock
Ohio State vs. Waterloo

Michigan State is in action tomorrow versus Windsor at 7:05 pm. Michigan takes on Windsor on Tuesday. Both of those games can be seen on Comcast.

Regular Season Action

The regular season for everyone gets under way this upcoming week/weekend with the following schedule:


Michigan Tech at LSSU
RIT at Michigan


Union at BGSU
Colgate at Miami
Ferris State at Rensselaer
RIT at Michigan
Ohio State at Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan State at Minnesota  (Fox Sports North)
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin
St. Lawrence at Western Michigan
Notre Dame vs. Maine  (Kansas City, MO   -  NBCSN)
Air Force vs. Alaska  (Anchorage, AK)


Union at BGSU
LSSU at Michigan Tech
Colgate at Miami
Ferris State at Rensselaer
Ohio State at Minnesota-Duluth
Michigan State at Minnesota  (Fox Sports North Plus)
Northern Michigan at Wisconsin
St. Lawrence at Western Michigan
Army or UNO vs. Notre Dame  (Kansas City, MO)
Canisius vs. Alaska  (Anchorage, AK)

Preseason CCHA Power Ranking:

Call it gut instinct......

1. Western Michigan (0-0-0). Although the exhibition tie raises an eyebrow, the Broncos figure to be a major factor in the CCHA race this year.

2. Michigan (0-0-0). Returning some of the best talent in the league, the question remains can Michigan put it together for an entire season and live up to the lofty expectations.

3. Notre Dame (0-0-0). Jeff Jackson will have his guys contending once again this season.

4. Michigan State (0-0-0). My first "surprise pick" of the season. Obviously this will depend on how the freshman contribute, but the Spartans will be a tough victory for anyone in the CCHA this year.

5. Miami (0-0-0). The dynasty will be a factor in the CCHA race once again, as the top half of the league looks to be very, very tough.

6. Ferris State (0-0-0). A Frozen Four team a year ago, the Bulldogs may take a step back a little bit this year, but they are still going to be in the mix. This just goes to show you the depth of the CCHA this season.

7. Northern Michigan (0-0-0). The Wildcats always seem to find a way to be in the mix for the top 5.

8.  LSSU (0-0-0). The Lakers are looking to build upon a solid 18-17-5 campaign last season.

9. Ohio State (0-0-0). This might be too low for the Buckeyes, but this is always a team you look for them to take two steps forward without taking three steps backt before you jump on the bandwagon.

10. Alaska (0-0-0). The Nanooks might be in the bottom half of the league, but the long trip out west is never easy. If they improve their lower 48 performance, they will be a surprise team this season.

11. Bowling Green (0-0-1). Bowling Green should be better this season, but with the depth and talent in the CCHA this year, it might be tough for them to move up that much.

Preseason Big 10 Power Ranking:

Call it gut instinct part II:

1. Minnesota (WCHA, 0-0-0). The Golden Gophers believe they could be the team to beat this year.

2. Michigan (CCHA, 0-0-0). The Wolverines have the talent to contend for the big prize this year.

3. Michigan State (CCHA, 0-0-0). The Spartans are flying under the radar right now.

4. Wisconsin (WCHA, 0-0-0). Will the Badgers take a positive step forward this year?

5. Ohio State (CCHA, 0-0-0). I still believe Ohio State is a sleeping giant in hockey.

6. Penn State (Ind., 0-0-0). Welcome to the big stage Penn State, up first, American Int'l.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Media & Coaches Split Conference Picks - MSU Middle of Pack

The Media and Coaches Polls were released this morning by the CCHA, and they split on their respective champion picks.

The coaches gave a narrow edge to Notre Dame over Michigan and Western Michigan, while the Media picked the Wolverines over the Broncos and Irish. The Spartans were picked in the middle of the pack as the coaches put the Spartans in seventh place, and the Media was slightly kinder moving MSU up to sixth.

If either were to happen, Michigan State would host a first round CCHA playoff series and if they won the series, they would go on the road in the quarterfinals for the second straight year.

Obviously people are going to have questions when you lose a player like Torey Krug and bring in so many freshman, but one thing is certain under Coach Anastos - the Spartans are going to be working hard in all aspects of their game, and they will make you earn every point in the series. And with seniors like Dean Chelios, Chris Forfar, Matt Grassi, Kevin Walrod, and Anthony Hayes - expect this team to carry the lunch pail attitude throughout the season.

Michigan State's first game of the year is this coming Monday at home against Windsor (Ontario) at 7:05 pm. The regular season kicks off on October 12th at #2 Minnesota, and the team has their first home series October 19th and 20th against Niagara.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Preseason Information - The time is here!

The first poll of the 2012 - 2013 season is out and Michigan State came in ranked #16.

The CCHA is well represented in its final season as a league, as Michigan (#3), Miami (#9), Western Michigan (#10), Ferris State (#11), and Notre Dame (#14) all came in ranked in the Top 20. Beyond that, Ohio State, Northern Michigan, and LSSU all received votes as well.

The Top 20 in the USCHO Preseason Poll:

1. Boston College
2. Minnesota
3. Michigan
4. North Dakota
5. Union
6. Cornell
7. Mass.-Lowell
8. Denver
9. Miami
10. Western Michigan
11. Ferris State
12. Minnesota-Duluth
13. Boston University
14. Notre Dame
15. Maine
16. Michigan State
17. Harvard
18. Wisconsin
19. Air Force
20. Colorado College

So does this really matter?  In some sense, yes. As that link  discusses, the worst preseason ranked team to win a national title is #13 in the USCHO poll (#12 in the USA Today). If that pattern holds true, then your 2012 - 2013 champion will be Boston College, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, Union, Cornell, Mass.-Lowell, Denver, Miami, Western Michigan, Ferris State, Minnesota-Duluth, or Boston University. In addition, only once has a preseason #1 team since 1998 won the national title, but the good news for BC fans is that team was the 2003 Minnesota Golden Gophers, and they were defending national champions. Seven of the past fifteen champions were ranked in the Top 5, so that gives a higher hope to BC, Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, and Union. If BC's chances are down simply because they won last year, then Minnesota, Michigan, North Dakota, or Union look to be safe bets. The average preseason rank of the last 15 national champions is 6.6.

As far as runner-ups go, up until Ferris State last year, the runner-up had been ranked in both polls. Ferris was ranked in the poll, but they weren't in the USA Today poll. At least half were ranked in the Top 10, and the most common ranks were #1 and #8 (more good news for BC fans?).

The other Frozen Four participants generally were ranked pretty high in the preseason poll as well. 19 of the 30 semi-finalists were ranked in the Top 10, and only one team in the last 15 years made the Frozen Four without being ranked in either poll (this means not receiving a vote).

None of this should be shocking though, because you are only going to get votes now if people expect you to be good, and in the world of college hockey, it's not hard to pick the old traditional programs, then in the end, most of these programs end up back in the Frozen Four with maybe only one surprise team - sometimes two.

Preseason All-CCHA Teams:

Spartan Goaltender Will Yanakeff was named to the second team preseason all-CCHA team.  He was the only Spartan named to either team. This isn't too surprising since most people believe MSU is in rebuilding mode this year, but as we saw last season, the Spartans are going to be a tough beat each and every night. If Yanakeff continues to be a great cornerstone in goal, Michigan State will surprise some people this year.

Tune In to Spartan Hockey:

MSU will be on TV 25 times this regular season. Michigan State's first four games are on TV, including next Monday's exhibition game against Windsor. The Spartans open the year October 12th - 13th at Minnesota, and both of those games can be seen on Fox Sports North. MSU's home opener against Niagara on October 19th will be on Comcast.

In addition, all four contests against Michigan will be on TV, Michigan State's first game in South Bend will be on National TV (NBC Sports Network), both games with Ohio State, and one game with new Division 1 program Penn State will be on TV.  Michigan State will be featured on the BTN numerous times throughout the year, so there will be plenty of time for hockey fans to get their Spartan Icers on TV - who needs the NHL!

Meet the Spartans

The Spartans held their annual 'Meet the Spartans' event tonight. It was a chance for fans to meet the 2012 - 2013 team, get some autographs, and wish them luck this season.