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