Thursday, January 17, 2013

Know Thy Enemy: Ferris State - Part II

This weekend Michigan State once again sees a familiar foe - Ferris State. Once this weekend is up, the Spartans will have played eight of ten games against the same two teams - Ferris State and Notre Dame. There are other teams in the CCHA, though next weekend MSU has a non-conference series against Penn State.

The first time these two teams faced each other, Michigan State ended a five game losing streak and a six game winless streak by defeating Ferris 3-1. Then just a couple weeks ago, the Bulldogs returned the favor with a 3-0 win up in Big Rapids. This weekend is another home and home with Friday night being in East Lansing and Saturday back at Big Rapids.

Michigan State leads the all-time series 67-31-5. MSU holds a 39-16-6 edge in East Lansing and a 27-14-8 edge in Big Rapids.

Confidence Building

The Spartans should have some confidence coming into this weekend after playing two very strong games against (then) #2 Notre Dame. This included an impressive 4-1 victory over Notre Dame last Saturday.  Michigan State might be in eighth place, but the team seems like it's close to a breakthrough - and perhaps a run.

Ferris State enters this weekend winning three of their last four games - this includes a home split against Ohio State last weekend. The Bulldogs are in fourth place in the CCHA - which is the final home ice advantage spot in the quarterfinal. They are tied with Ohio State - which technically sits in fifth place - the last first round bye spot - by virtue of the conference wins tiebreaker. Ferris State has 25 points in the CCHA and MSU has 16 points. A sweep might put MSU back in the hunt for a top five spot.

One step at a time though.

Ferris State Leading Scorers

Garrett Thompson   9 goals, 17 points  (3 goals came in the 3-0 FSU win over MSU)
Kyle Bonis  10 goals, 16 points
Travis Ouellette 5 goals, 14 points
Cory Kane  5 goals, 12 points
Simon Denis 4 goals, 12 points
Jason Binkley 2 goals, 12 points


C.J. Motte 9-9-3, 2.23 GAA, .926 save %

FSU PP:  17 for 78, 21.8%
FSU PK:  83 for 98  84.7%

Final Thoughts

This is the type of series that could go either way. Neither team really shows a lot of offensive fire power, though Ferris State is 3rd in the CCHA (league games only), but they only score 2.62 goals per a game. By comparison, the Spartans are tied for 8th at 2.06 goals per a game. The Bulldogs will use a defensive style to keep the game lower scoring, so the Spartans may not need a lot of goals this weekend, but they need a better effort than what they got in Big Rapids a couple weeks ago.

The first goal will go a long ways to helping the offensive confidence of both teams. MSU used an early goal last week against ND to really begin to step their game up. Ferris State is 5-1 when leading after one period, and 7-1-2 when leading after two. They are 1-6 when trailing after two.

I would expect a couple of lower scoring games - where if either team hits the three goal mark - they probably stand a good chance at winning this weekend. In the end, this is a strong opportunity for MSU to really gain on the middle of the pack in the CCHA. In order to do that, MSU has to do something they haven't done all year - win two games in a row. The best they've claimed is a two game unbeaten streak (done three times - a win & tie).

Friday's game is at 7:35 pm. Saturday is at 7:05 pm. Friday can be seen on Fox Sports Detroit or heard on 1240 AM. Saturday can be heard on 730 AM.

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