Thursday, February 28, 2013

Know Thy Enemy - Western Michigan & The End of an Era

Well, the end has finally come. This weekend Michigan State will celebrate the careers of five Spartans: Kevin Walrod, Matt Grassi, Chris Forfar, Anthony Hayes, and Zach Golembiewski. In addition, this marks the end of an era for Michigan State, Western Michigan, and college hockey. It's the final regular season weekend in the history of the CCHA. Michigan State will join the Big Ten conference next season, and Western Michigan will be joining the National Collegiate Hockey Conference with fellow CCHA member Miami.

In the meantime, the Spartans are looking to end the regular season on a high note, potentially move up the CCHA standings, and prevent Western Michigan from clinching the CCHA championship. Though, Western will need a lot of help as Miami only needs two points for an outright championship. Miami takes on Ohio State this weekend.

Western Michigan is 18-8-8 overall with a 14-6-6-3 CCHA mark (2nd place). They sit one point ahead of Notre Dame for second place, and the Broncos cannot finish worse than third in the CCHA standings. Michigan State comes into the weekend with three straight splits posting a 10-21-3 overall record and an 8-17-1-0 CCHA mark (11th place). The Spartans could finish as high as ninth place with a lot of help. Right now MSU would be heading to Alaska for the first round of the playoffs. The Spartans need Bowling Green to sweep a road series at Notre Dame to bump Alaska from sixth place, or MSU needs to earn four more points than Northern Michigan or sweep Western and have Ferris sweep Michigan in order to move up the CCHA standings.

Western is actually on a five game winless streak right now. Their last win came on February 8th against Miami, a 2-0 victory. Western is 0-2-3 since that point. Speaking of streaks, Michigan State is unbeaten in three games against the Broncos (2-0-1). The Spartans swept Western last year in Kalamazoo, and the two teams battled to a 1-1 draw in the GLI semi-final round earlier this year. Matt Berry tied that game with only 16 seconds remaining. The Spartans hold a 63-29-9 all-time record against Western and that includes a 33-5-6 mark at Munn Ice Arena. The last time the two teams met in East Lansing was on October 30, 2009.

Both games are scheduled to start at 7:05 pm and can be seen on Comcast (Channel 900) or heard on 1240 am or the Spartan Sports Network. For those attending on Saturday, senior night festivities are scheduled to begin at 6:45 pm.

Broncos Leading Scorers

Dane Walters   12 goals, 23 points
Chase Balisy    9 goals, 22 points
Kenney Morrison  7 goals, 18 points
Shane Berschbach  3 goals, 17 points
Mike Leone  6 goals, 16 points
Mike Cichy  4 goals, 16 points
Dennis Brown 3 goals, 16 points


Frank Slubowski  18-8-8, 1.87 GAA, .922 save %

Western is 5-5-4 on the road this season.

Western's best period is the 3rd where they hold a +11 goal advantage.

Western's offense is ranked 11th in the CCHA (2.29 GPG), but their defense is ranked 2nd (1.94 GPG). Despite the lack of offensive firepower 5 on 5, Western's power play ranks 2nd in the CCHA at 18.1%, and their PK ranks 3rd at 86.4%. By comparison, MSU ranks 12th in offense (2.12 GPG), 9th on defense (2.76 GPG), 9th on the power play (12.3%), and 8th on the PK (83.2%).

Series Thoughts

Northern plays LSSU at home, so you would think they would manage three points on the weekend. Michigan plays at home against Ferris, so you think they would earn at least one point. BGSU probably isn't going to sweep Notre Dame in South Bend. The point of all this is, the odds are Michigan State is going to be heading back to Alaska - even if MSU manages to sweep Western, which most people won't believe they can do. However, the Spartans did hang around Western at the GLI, and the Broncos aren't exactly lighting the world on fire on offense. If the Spartans can manage to put together six periods this weekend, they'll be in position to take points, and that could lead to some momentum heading into the playoffs. 

That is all that really matters at this point. Putting together two games on a weekend to add some much needed confidence that the Spartans could be a dangerous team in the post season. Yanakeff played very well last weekend, and Hildebrand has played well most of the season, so the Spartans have a pair of goaltenders capable of stealing a game in the playoffs. 

Let's see if they can get something going this weekend, and who knows what could happen.....


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Weekend Recap: Nanooks Salvage Split

Friday's Recap

Saturday:  MSU Recap // Alaska Recap

Weekend Thoughts:

Well, it's looking like MSU will be back in Alaska in a couple weeks. The Spartans did earn their first winning streak of the season, and they held a 1-0 lead after the opening period, but they couldn't translate it into the first weekend sweep of the year. The Nanooks tallied the game winning goal with just 1:03 remaining in regulation. Former Spartan Adam Henderson added an empty net goal, and then the fireworks began as Jake Chelios an Nolan Kaiser squared off, but neither received a game DQ. So currently, Jake Chelios can still play on Friday against Western Michigan.

CCHA Standings:

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Western Michigan26146635157
Notre Dame26158325056
Ferris St.261311214248
Ohio State26129514248
Bowling Green261013313440
Northern Michigan26814412935
Michigan State26817102531

Play-off Picture

Current Match-ups:

First Round: 

#11 MSU at #6 Alaska
#10 NMU at #7 BGSU
#9 Michigan at #8 LSSU

Quarterfinal Round:

#5 Ohio State at #4 Ferris State
TBD: #1 Miami, #2 WMU, #3 Notre Dame

It's simple for Miami - one point clinches a share of the CCHA title, two wins it outright. Western will basically need to win out and hope Ohio State sweeps Miami to win it outright. Notre Dame still has a shot as well, but they need a ton of help. Ferris State controls its own destiny for home ice in the quarterfinal round. They currently have the tiebreaker over Ohio State (conference wins). Alaska sits in the 6 spot, but they could fall to 7th if BGSU wins at Notre Dame. BGSU, LSSU, Michigan, and Northern Michigan still can earn home ice in the first round of the playoffs - and each can finish as high as 7th (BGSU can still get 6th). Michigan State can finish as high as 9th, but they need help from Ferris State and LSSU. Basically, it's looking like MSU is likely to head out to Alaska again for the first round, but other situations do exist, and everyone is playing for something - as all 11 CCHA teams are in action.

Games This Week


Western Michigan at Michigan State  (Comcast)
Ohio State at Miami
BGSU at Notre Dame
LSSU at Northern Michigan
Ferris State at Michigan (CBS)
Alaska-Anchorage at Alaska


Western Michigan at Michigan State (Comcast)
Ohio State at Miami
BGSU at Notre Dame
LSSU at Northern Michigan
Ferris State at Michigan (Fox Sports)
Alaska-Anchorage at Alaska

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Miami (21-8-5, LW: 1). On the verge of a championship.

2. Western Michigan (18-8-8, LW: 3). A battle with Michigan State awaits the Broncos in the final CCHA series.

3. Notre Dame (19-12-3, LW: 2). Pretty even, a pair of shoot-out wins for both teams this past weekend in K-Zoo.

4. Ferris State (15-13-4, LW: 5). A bye and they move up, Ohio State missed out on a huge opportunity.

5. Michigan (12-18-2, LW: 9). A statement weekend by Michigan - is the rest of the CCHA on notice?

6. Ohio State (13-14-7, LW: 5). The Buckeyes missed a great chance this weekend to move into the Top 4 - now they need help as they face arch-rival Miami.

7. BGSU (13-16-5, LW: 6). The Falcons can move up to 6th, but they need to pull off a road sweep in South Bend.

8.  LSSU (15-18-1, LW: 7). The Lakers competed hard, but they couldn't get any points against Miami.

9. Alaska (14-14-4, LW: 8). Fireworks in Fairbanks this weekend - will they repeat in two weeks?

10. Northern Michigan (14-16-4, LW: 10). The Wildcats remain a dangerous team, but they need to put together two games in one weekend.

11. Michigan State (10-21-3, LW: 11). The Spartans reached double digit wins by hanging on in Fairbanks - now they try to avoid a second trip out there, but help is needed.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (21-6-5, LW: 1). With two weekends left, the Gophers are only two points back from a WCHA title.

2. Wisconsin (13-10-7, LW: 2). A Big Ten battle tonight and tomorrow against Penn State.

3. Michigan (12-18-2, LW: 5). Statement made - can they do it again this week against Ferris?

4. Ohio State (13-14-7, LW: 3). The Buckeyes need to recover before the playoffs.

5. Penn State (12-13-0, LW: 4). Penn State can make one final Big Ten statement this week against Wisconsin.

6. Michigan State (10-21-3, LW: 6). The Spartans have split their last three series - another big test with Western in town.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Yanakeff Backstops MSU to 1-0 Victory in Alaska

Game Recaps:

MSU Recap // Alaska Recap  // Final Stats // Daily News Miner Recap (Fairbanks)

Game Thoughts:

It wasn't pretty, and the offense didn't exactly explode for a bunch of goals, but they did enough to steal a rare Friday night victory last night in Fairbanks. Greg Wolfe scored the only goal 7:53 into the opening period, and Will Yanakeff was spectacular making 37 stops to earn his first shutout of the season.

Alaska out-shot the Spartans 34-14 for the game.

The Spartans had a lot of jump early, which eventually created the goal, but Alaska pretty much took over from that point though they couldn't solve Yanakeff. MSU only had 1 power play on the evening, and it lasted 11 seconds, because it was the back end of a 4 on 4 situation. Alaska had a power play over the final 1:19 as Jake Chelios took a cross-checking penalty late. The Nanooks pulled their goalie for a two-man advantage, but the Spartans held strong to preserve the 1-0 victory.

With the win, this is the first time all season Michigan State has won back to back games. Tonight, they'll go for their first series sweep of the season.

Around the CCHA:

Miami, Michigan, and Northern Michigan all won tonight. Western Michigan beat ND in a shoot-out. So the standings over the bottom half of the CCHA look like this:

6th - Alaska 37 pts (1 game left)
7th - LSSU  32 pts (3 games left)
8th - BGSU 31 pts (3 games left)
9th - Northern 29 pts (3 games left)
10th - Michigan 28 pts (3 games left)
11th - MSU  25 pts (3 games left)

Alaska has been eliminated from a top 5 spot now. The Spartans drew to within six points of 8th place. They still need help to move up - a loss tonight by MSU would make a second trip out to Fairbanks a very high probability.

The two teams face-off at 11:05 pm Eastern tonight.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Know Thy Enemy: Fear the Bear

Michigan State heads off to Alaska to take on the Nanooks for a pair of games. This could be the final time Michigan State ends up going to Alaska, since the Spartans are leaving the CCHA for the Big Ten next season. The Nanooks will join their in-state rival Alaska-Anchorage in the WCHA next season.

The Nanooks come into this series with a 11-12-3-1 CCHA record good enough for 6th place (37 points).  Alaska is going to have to sweep MSU and hope Ferris State AND Ohio State lose out if they want to assure themselves a potential home ice spot and first round bye. They will need other help on top of that, so I suppose at this point Alaska is going to be concerned about playing good hockey. The Nanooks are basically guaranteed a first round home series unless a lot of crazy things happen the last two weekends, and if Michigan State does something they haven't done yet this year (sweep a weekend series - no time like the present!). Alaska is 13-13-4 overall this year and 7-6-1 at home.

2013 started off with a bang for Alaska winning six straight games to start the calendar year. This included back to back road sweeps at Michigan and Notre Dame. However, the Nanooks have hit hard times lately dropping five of their last six games, and they are coming off back to back losses to LSSU.

The Spartans enter the weekend still in last place, but they are playing better hockey of late with back to back splits. Michigan State is a long shot at this point to get home ice for the first round of the CCHA playoffs, so this weekend could be as much about trying to avoid Alaska in the first round and avoid making two trips out west in three weeks.

While I won't miss the 11pm game times, I know I will miss one thing when it comes to Alaska: the videos:

It would be wise to avoid angering the bear

Fear the Bear.

Ah. Good Stuff.

The last time these two teams met, Michigan State swept Alaska in East Lansing on February 17th and 18th (2012). MSU won the first night 3-2 in OT and posted a 3-0 victory on the second night. The last time the two teams played in Alaska for a regular season series was the 2010 - 2011 season when the teams split the series. They met two weeks later in the CCHA tournament (also in Alaska), and the Nanooks won back to back overtime games to sweep MSU out of the CCHA playoffs, and end the Rick Comley era. 

Michigan State leads the all-time series 41-15-3. This includes a 15-9-2 mark in Fairbanks.  Alaska has dominated the series of late holding a 4-1-1 edge in the last three series in Alaska.

Fast forward to this year, the Nanooks look stronger, even on their recent slide, they are going to be a team to pay attention to in the playoffs.

Leading Scorers

Andy Taranto   10 goals, 22 points
Cody Kunyk    8 goals, 21 points
Tyler Morley   10 goals, 18 points
Jarret Granberg 5 goals, 17 points
Colton Beck     10 goals, 16 points
Trevor Campbell  2 goals, 16 points


John Keeney    9-8-3   2.55 GAA, .905 save %
Steve Thompson   2-3-0, 3.30 GAA, .876 save %
Sean Cahill    2-2-1,  2.37 GAA,  .882 save %

Series Thoughts

The Nanooks have blistered opposing goaltenders getting on average 34 shots on goal a game. On the flip side, they are only allowing 26 per a game. Despite that, they have been outscored 85-78 this season - though the widest margin by period is a 29-24 deficit in the 3rd period. Alaska's penalty kill is very strong at 89.2%, and they are one of the least penalized teams at just over 13 minutes per a game. 

The biggest thing for the Spartans will be to adjust to the larger ice sheet. This will make turnovers even more critical. The Spartans need to be able to protect the puck coming out of the defensive zone and into the offensive zone. If they have a lot of turnovers, Alaska is going to be able to turn that right back on the Spartan goal. 

On the flip side, Hildebrand & Yanakeff will need to be sharp. 

At this point, the Spartans just need to look to build back to back games - and continue to build to the post season. They need to take care of business first before really worrying about anything else. Take it one period at a time, and they need to come ready to go right away. Friday night was a little disappointing to see, but the Spartans played one of their better games of the season the very next night. Now let's see if they can building that into something this weekend. Then, if the two teams happen to face each other again, it may give the Spartans the confidence they need to put it together for a playoff series out there.

Both games are scheduled for 11:05 pm eastern and can be heard on 1240 am or the spartan sports network.

Go Green!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend Recap: Spartans Split With Wildcats

Game Recaps

Friday: Recap // NMU Recap // Video Highlights (MSU) // Recap

Saturday: MSU Recap // NMU Recap // Video Highlights (MSU) // Recap

Series Thoughts

Another weekend split for the Spartans. On Friday, the Spartans fell behind and battled back twice to within one goal. The Wildcats added an empty net goal that capped a wild finish that saw four goals in the final 5:08. Michigan State played probably their best hockey over the final ten minutes, but it wasn't enough. On Saturday, the Spartans played one of their more complete games in awhile, and they eventually rallied scoring the final three goals of the game to pull out the 4-2 victory.

It would have been a little unfortunate for the Spartans to not pull out the win on Saturday, since they were playing much better hockey, and they really controlled the play. Michigan State out-shot Northern 43-20, and this included a 19-3 edge in the first period, but the Wildcats held a 1-0 lead. Lee Reimer tied it up in the second on a shorthanded goal. Northern took a 2-1 lead in the 3rd period, but MSU finally took over as Ferrantino, Forfar, and Sorenson all tallied goals for MSU.

Michigan State again has a chance to win two straight games, but they'll need to do it on the road in Alaska. MSU makes its final trek to Alaska for a CCHA regular season series. I say final regular season series, because it is very possible that MSU could be back in Alaska two weeks later for the CCHA playoffs.

Chris Forfar puts MSU ahead for good  on Saturday 3-2

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Western Michigan24146424860
Notre Dame24158114759
Ferris St.261311214248
Ohio State24127514254
Bowling Green24912313143
Northern Michigan24713412638
Michigan State24716102234

The Spartans cannot finish higher than 7th place at this point, and sitting nine points back of 8th place, home ice advantage is pretty much an afterthought at this point. It's still about building into the post season and playing good hockey heading into the playoffs. If the Spartans don't want to head to Alaska again, then they could help their own cause this weekend by taking some points and giving LSSU or Bowling Green a chance to catch Alaska for 6th place. Plus, it could help MSU by moving themselves up the standings.

Miami, Western Michigan, and Notre Dame have clinched a first round bye. Miami and Western Michigan have guaranteed themselves home ice advantage in the CCHA quarterfinals. Alaska will be eliminated from a first round bye if they drop 2 points this weekend (or if Ferris & Ohio State earn 2 points this weekend - or some combination). Basically, it's looking like Ferris State and Ohio State are in prime position to earn first round byes.

Current CCHA Playoff Match-ups:

First Round

#11 Michigan State at #6 Alaska  (No Head to Head Games Played Yet)
#10 Michigan at #7 LSSU  (Season Series Split 1-1)
#9 Northern Michigan at #8 Bowling Green (No Head to Head Games Played Yet)

Second Round

#5 Ohio State at #4 Ferris State  (Season Series Split 1-1)
Lowest Seed Remaining at #1 Miami
2nd Lowest Seed Remaining at #2 Western Michigan
Highest Seed Remaining at #3 Notre Dame

Games This Week


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

-Off: Ferris State -


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

-Off: Ferris State -

Looks like some positioning could be decided this week as NMU-BGSU face each other with home ice on the line in the quarterfinal. Ohio State has a chance to pass Ferris State for home ice with a single point against Michigan, Alaska wraps up its CCHA schedule this week, and ND-WMU face-off in a potential championship deciding series. Then there is current CCHA leader Miami looking to solidify a CCHA championship with a road series at LSSU.

Interesting thing right now is the shoot-out is currently deciding the CCHA championship. I can't think of a worse way to win a title - on a skills competition. This is why I hope the Big Ten doesn't bring over the shoot-out. Miami and Western are tied in league wins, losses, and ties. Miami has won all four shoot-outs they have been in. Western is only two for four. If you didn't have a shoot-out (and assume the games ended with the same results, we'd have two teams tied for first right now. Sorry Western.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Miami (19-8-5, LW: 1). A Sunday afternoon loss outdoors against ND was an opportunity lost, as Miami could have built a five point CCHA lead with 12 points remaining.

2. Notre Dame (19-12-1, LW: 3). The Irish pass Western since they defeated #3 Miami this weekend. They can prove it on the ice this weekend in Kalamazoo.

3. Western Michigan (18-8-6, LW: 2). Anyone notice the Broncos are now winless in 3 (0-2-1) and have only won once in their last five games (1-3-1)?

4. Ohio State (13-12-7, LW: 4). The Buckeyes went unbeaten against Western, and now a big series for them against Michigan this weekend at home.

5. Ferris State (15-13-4, LW: 6). The Bulldogs split at home against Bowling Green, and now they have a weekend off to see what they need to do to secure a bye and potentially home ice advantage.

6. Bowling Green (12-15-5, LW: 7). The Falcons continue to play decent hockey splitting a tough road series in Big Rapids. Will anyone want to see them in the playoffs?

7. LSSU (15-16-1, LW: 8). The Lakers swept Alaska this weekend. Now they have a tough match-up with Miami coming into town.

8. Alaska (13-13-4, LW: 5). The Nanooks were on fire at the start of 2013 winning their first six games. They are 1-5 since.

9. Michigan (10-18-2, LW: 9). Let's see if the bye week helped.

10. Northern Michigan (13-15-4, LW: 10). The Wildcats earned their first CCHA road victory this season on Friday.

11. Michigan State (9-20-3, LW: 11). The Spartans seem to be playing better hockey, but it still needs to be more consistent.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (20-5-4, LW: 1). The Sunday result is still pending, but the Gophers continue to be the class of the conference.

2. Wisconsin (12-10-7, LW: 2). A tough home loss on Friday to Minnesota, and they get another crack on Sunday in Chicago.

3. Ohio State (13-12-7, LW: 3). Back above .500.

4. Penn State (12-13-0, LW: 4). The final series in their initial D-I season is this upcoming weekend in Madison.

5. Michigan (10-18-2, LW: 5). It'll be interesting to see if Michigan can come out of the off weekend playing well.

6. Michigan State (9-20-3, LW: 6). The Spartans have a pair of tough series to finish with - at Alaska, vs. Western.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Know Thy Enemy: Northern Michigan

The Michigan State Spartans welcome the Northern Michigan Wildcats for a weekend series at Munn Ice Arena. Michigan State enters the weekend four points behind Northern Michigan for 10th place in the CCHA. Northern Michigan is 6-12-4-1 in the CCHA (12-14-4 overall). With 9th place Michigan idle, the Spartans could actually find themselves in 9th place (tied) by sweeping all six points from Northern.

One game at a time though right? The Spartans, with a win on Friday, will earn their first two game winning streak this season. It has been a little while since MSU has seen Northern. The Spartans last faced the Wildcats on January 13th and 14th (2012) at Munn. MSU won a shoot-out on Friday (5-5 tie), and then the Spartans won the next night 2-1. MSU went 2-1-1 against Northern last year.

Michigan State holds a 34-28-4 edge in the all-time series, which includes a 19-10-3 mark at Munn. Friday's game starts at 6:35 pm and can be seen on the Big Ten Network. Saturday's game starts at 7:35 pm and can be see on Fox Sports Detroit. On your radio dial, it's 1240 AM on Friday and 730 AM on Saturday, or on-line at the Spartan Sports Network.

Michigan State split last weekend with Bowling Green, as each team defended their home rink. Northern Michigan started off the 2013 calendar year on a roll going 5-0-1 in their first six games of 2013. Since then though, they have cooled off going 1-4-0 in their last five games. The Wildcats most recently played on Tuesday and lost 8-2 at Michigan Tech.

Northern Michigan Leading Scorers

Matt Thurber  3 goals, 25 points
Reed Seckel    10 goals, 18 points
Stephan Vigier  5 goals, 17 points
Ryan Daugherty  9 goals, 14 points
Erik Higby       5 goals, 14 points


Jared Coreau  12-14-4, 2.60 GAA, .918 save percentage

Series Thoughts

Stats wise these teams are very even. NMU ranks 10th in the league at 2.09 goals per a game, and MSU is 11th at 2.00 goals per a game. On defense, the Wildcats sit in 8th at 2.77 goals allowed per a game, and MSU is tied for 6th at 2.45 goals allowed per a game. I think it's safe to say the first to three stands a good chance at winning these games.

While eighth place right now seems like a pipe dream, the Spartans simply need to start building upon victories. These are two very winnable games, but it's going to take a strong effort both nights, and it'd be great to see the Spartans jump out to an early lead and really help carry the momentum from last Saturday. The biggest difference between these teams right now? Northern is 8-3 this year in one goal games. Michigan State is 1-9. I guess we can hope for another empty net goal.

All that's left is a half relevant clip (2nd half):

We might not be the Wildcats, but we certainly want to beat the Wildcats

Monday, February 11, 2013

Weekend Recap: Spartans Split With Bowling Green

Game Recaps

Friday Night Recap // Recap

Saturday Night Recap // Recap // USCHO Recap

Weekend Thoughts

Was it perfect? No. But it was a step in the right direction. This team needs to build some positive momentum, and they certainly did that this past weekend playing a solid 120 minutes. Granted, they only earned a split, and you won't be happy with a loss, but it's a building block. The key now will be how does Michigan State continue to build on this weekend. They haven't won two straight games all year, but they could do that by defeating Northern Michigan on Friday. Often times that starts with your leaders, and captain Greg Wolfe certainly did that this weekend scoring three times.

In addition, Michigan State got a pair of solid goaltending efforts - which isn't a shock this season with Jake Hildebrand. Though lately it seemed like Hildebrand was losing a little bit of an edge. This allowed the staff to give Will Yanakeff another chance on Friday, and even though he didn't get the win, he certainly played well enough for the victory stopping 24 of 26 shots. That's a great sign for Michigan State, since Yanakeff has struggled this year, but he seems to be playing better lately. Hildebrand came out on Saturday and stopped 27 of 28 shots. So goaltending continues to be a positive for MSU.

If Wolfe (and his line) can continue to create chances, Michigan State might finally have another source of offense to really lean on. And with a strong effort in goal, the Spartans aren't going to be an easy out in the CCHA tournament. The goal for MSU has to be to try to secure home ice. As you'll see in the CCHA standings below, the Spartans can catch Michigan this weekend by simply sweeping Northern Michigan. MSU would hold the tiebreaker over Michigan based on conference wins (8 to 7), which means Michigan State would be in 9th place. This would put MSU just 1 spot away from home ice, though they could be as many as seven points behind depending on what else happens.

But the bigger picture would have MSU putting together back to back solid weekends. If MSU cannot secure home ice, avoiding a second trip to Alaska would be a must. Not that MSU couldn't win it, but that would be a tough trip to make just a couple weeks after already making it. MSU had to do that a couple years ago, and the Spartans were swept in the first round after dropping a pair of overtime games. Alaska is in prime position to finish in 6th place - since they are nine points up on BGSU at the moment (Falcons have 2 games on hand). They sit one point behind Ohio State for fifth, but Ohio State has two games on hand.

Plus, for selfish reasons, it'd be nice to not have to stay up till 1:30 am cheering the Spartans on - even though I would do it. At this point though, it's about the building blocks. I think we'll see this weekend against Northern if MSU can build upon the foundation laid last weekend.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Western Michigan22145314664
Notre Dame22147114462
Ferris St.241210213951
Ohio State22117413856
Bowling Green22811312846
Northern Michigan22612412341
Michigan State22615101937

The best Michigan and Michigan State can do right now is a tie for 6th place. Bowling Green, LSSU, Northern Michigan, and Michigan were all mathematically eliminated from the CCHA title this past weekend. Alaska and Ferris State are the next closest to be eliminated. Basically, it's a three horse race - Miami, WMU, and Notre Dame. Then it's a three horse race for the final home ice spot (4th place) and the final first round bye spot (5th place).

Games This Week


Northern Michigan at Michigan Tech


Bowling Green at Ferris State
Alaska at LSSU
Northern Michigan at Michigan State (Big Ten Network, 6:35 pm)
Notre Dame at Miami  (CBS Sports Network)
Western Michigan at Ohio State


Bowling Green at Ferris State  (Fox Sports Detroit  - Hockey Day in Michigan, 5:05 pm)
Alaska at LSSU
Northern Michigan at Michigan State (Fox Sports Detroit - Hockey Day in Michigan, 7:35 pm)
Western Michigan at Ohio State


Miami vs. Notre Dame   (Fox Sports Detroit, Solider Field - Chicago, IL, 1:00 pm)

Current Play-off Match-ups:

First Round Byes: #1 Miami, #2 Western Michigan, #3 Notre Dame, #4 Ferris State, #5 Ohio State

First Round Match-ups:

#11 Michigan State at #6 Alaska
#10 Northern Michigan at #7 Bowling Green
#9 Michigan at #8 LSSU

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Miami (18-7-5, LW: 1). Miami split in Kalamazoo, which is enough to keep them in the top spot both in these rankings and the CCHA standings.

2. Western Michigan (18-7-5, LW: 2). Western held onto first place for a day.

3. Notre Dame (18-11-1, LW: 5). The Irish can move into first place by winning 5 of 6 points against Miami and getting some help from Ohio State.

4. Ohio State (12-12-6, LW: 3). The Buckeyes have a huge series this weekend to stay in the top five of the CCHA.

5. Alaska (13-11-4, LW: 4). The Nanooks make their last visit to the lower 48 this weekend.

6. Ferris State (14-12-4, LW: 7). The Bulldogs are in a fight for home ice, but with fewer league games remaining, they'll need to win most of their remaining points.

7. Bowling Green (11-14-5, LW: 6). The Falcons are in line to get home ice in the first round, but they have four road games remaining against Ferris State and Notre Dame.

8. LSSU (13-16-1, LW: 9). The Lakers move up despite being off.

9. Michigan (10-18-2, LW: 8). Any positive vibes by sweeping MSU are gone now after allowing 13 goals to Notre Dame.

10. Northern Michigan (12-13-4, LW: 10). The Wildcats need to show some consistency on the road this year only winning 3 of 14, can they do it in East Lansing?

11. Michigan State (8-19-3, LW: 11). A win on Friday gives MSU something they haven't had all season - a winning streak. A win on Saturday gives MSU something else they haven't had all year (besides a three game winning streak) - a weekend sweep.

Big Ten Standings

1.  Minnesota (19-5-4, LW: 1). The Gophers split with St. Cloud, so now they need help to win the WCHA title.

2.  Wisconsin (12-9-7, LW: 3). Wisconsin keeps moving up the league standings, as they now sit in a tie for fifth place.

3.  Ohio State (12-12-6, LW: 2). The Buckeyes need to find points to secure a first round bye, and potentially home ice in the quarterfinal round.

4.  Penn State (12-13-0, LW: 5). I know it was only UAH, but Penn State has now won four of their last five D-I games.

5.  Michigan (10-18-2, LW: 4). Can the bye week solve any problems?

6. Michigan State (8-19-3, LW: 6). Can MSU climb out of the basement in the CCHA this weekend?

Friday, February 8, 2013

Know Thy...... (sigh).... Time To Start Calling Sweeps

Michigan State enters this weekend looking for positive momentum to finish the season and perhaps to earn a few points along the way. The Spartans are 7-18-3 overall and 5-14-1 in the CCHA. Michigan State sits four points behind Northern Michigan, and nine points behind Michigan and Bowling Green. This means the Spartans do have a chance to earn home ice advantage still for the first round of the CCHA playoffs. This weekend becomes a must-win for MSU.

Bowling Green comes in with a 10-13-5 overall and a 7-10-3-1 league mark. Bowling Green has been playing better lately going 7-3-1 in their last 11 games. This include sweeping LSSU last weekend 4-1 and 7-3.

The two teams split earlier in the year with each winning on the road. Bowling Green won 1-0 in East Lansing and MSU returned the favor in Bowling Green with a 6-1 victory.

Has it been a tough season? Yes. But there is still a chance to do something, and it doesn't matter if you think that chance is remote, it is still a chance. It's a chance to show up and play the game - and let the pucks fall where they may. It's been getting tougher to write anything here, since it's pretty much the same old thing. But in the end there is a group of kids willing to lay their hearts on the line for a program, and that's reason enough to keep going. You never know what could happen.

Both games this weekend are at 7:05 pm. Friday can be heard on 1240 AM and Saturday on 730 AM. There is no TV for this series.

End of an Era?

MSU holds a 72-31-8 edge in the all-time series - including a 40-10-3 mark in East Lansing and a 25-18-5 record in Bowling Green. But what this weekend may symbolize is an end of an era. Michigan State and Bowling Green became big rivals in the 80s when MSU became a force in the CCHA. Although the rivalry hasn't been as heated recently, it's series like this that are going to make fans miss the CCHA.

Please Score

MSU has scored one goal or less twelve times this season. MSU is 7-0-1 when scoring 3 or more and 0-18-2 when scoring 2 or fewer. MSU has only won twice this season on Friday night - both were non-conference wins (Niagara, Penn State).

Bowling Green

Leading Scorers:

Ryan Carpenter   11 goals, 24 points
Dajon Mingo  8 goals, 19 points
Dan DeSalvo  3 goals, 17 points
Robert Shea  3 goals, 16 points
Mike Sullivan 1 goal, 15 points
Mark Cooper 9 goals, 14 points
Adam Berkle 4 goals, 14 points


Andrew Hammond  8-10-3, 2.52 GAA, .917 save %
Tommy Burke   2-3-2, 2.23 GAA, .905 save %

Andrew Hammond (senior) is turning into one of those guys that I swear has been at Bowling Green for 5-6 years now.

Series Thoughts

BGSU has done well on the road this season - winning in East Lansing and Ann Arbor. They are 5-6-3 away from home and 5-7-2 at home. Bowling Green has had strong 3rd periods this year outscoring teams 27-19 in the final period. In the first and second periods, BGSU has been outscored 50-41.

We can talk about how MSU's offense ranks 54th nationally. We can talk about how Michigan State has yet to win two straight games this year. We can talk about how MSU is in last place..... But you know what? Screw it. It's time to take the 'Us against the world' attitude. Let's call for the Spartans to sweep - it's bound to happen sometime again (edit: It might take till next season). I Believe.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Weekend Recap: Michigan Sweeps Michigan State

Game Recaps & Highlights

Friday Night: Recap  //  MSU All-Access Highlights  // Michigan Recap

Saturday Night: Recap // MSU All-Access Highlights  // Michigan Recap


First off, sorry for the delay. Let's just blame the Super Bowl. That and I'm not sure what else to say that hasn't already been said. It's been a long season, and this weekend really showed that this team still has a long ways to go. Are they capable of a run? Maybe, but they need to find something in the closing month. 

The Spartans had moments this weekend, but unfortunately they didn't have enough of the good moments. The other thing that might be worth paying attention to is how MSU responds after they score. Penn State took advantage (especially Friday) of quick responses. Michigan did the same this weekend - especially on Saturday. This is something that plagued the team under Coach Comley. If MSU gets past the first two minutes after they score, then fans seem to relax a little bit more.

There is still a lot to play for. It's really up to the team at this point to figure out what they want to do to close the season out. There are a lot of parallels people are making to Ron Mason's second season behind the bench. The 1980-81 Spartans finished the WCHA with a worse record than the 79-80 Spartans (Mason's first year). The following season began a stretch of nine straight NCAA appearances and the rest is history.

And maybe that's what this group needs to begin fighting for - the future. And then they can look back as the team that laid the groundwork for the program to reach history once again.

CCHA Standings

GPWLTSOWPointsTotal Points Possible
Western Michigan20134314367
Notre Dame20127113862
Ferris St.22119213654
Ohio State20106413559
Bowling Green20710312549
Northern Michigan20511412044
Michigan State20514101640

Games This Week


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


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

Well, I guess it needs to be said - Michigan State has been eliminated (officially) from the CCHA title. Also, they can't finish any better than third. More importantly, they sit 9 points behind Bowling Green for 8th place, the final home ice spot in the first round. Basically, if MSU wants to have any shot at 8th place - a sweep is a must this weekend. Also, it's time to start looking at potential match-ups. Michigan State is currently in line to face Alaska in the first round. This would be two weeks after already making the trip out there. It's safe to say that MSU would prefer to avoid making that trip twice.

Right now the playoffs would be:

#11 Michigan State at #6 Alaska
#10 Northern Michigan at #7 LSSU
#9 Michigan at #8 Bowling Green  (giving BGSU the edge due to fewer games played at this point)

#5 Ohio State at #4 Ferris State would be the only quarterfinal match-up we'd know - as both teams would get a bye. So for MSU to make a run in the CCHA tournament, they'd have to go to Alaska win two out of three, then they'd face #1 Miami and have to win two out of three. Then, if you assume all the other top seeds win, MSU would have to face #2 Western and #3 Notre Dame to win the CCHA tournament. I'd say at this point it'll be about taking it one game at a time.

CCHA Power Rankings

1. Miami (17-6-5, LW: 3). Miami sits in first place with a month to go - a huge series in K-Zoo is next.

2. Western Michigan (17-6-5, LW: 2). Western dropped 1 point in Big Rapids, and that's the difference in the CCHA standings right now.

3. Ohio State (11-11-6, LW: 6). The Buckeyes have finally hit the .500 plateau, and now they find themselves in position for a first round bye. Can they survive the long trek west?

4. Alaska (12-10-4, LW: 1). The winning streak had to end, but now they get a chance to regroup at home.

5. Notre Dame (16-11-1, LW: 4). 2-7-1 in their last 10 games has the Irish with more questions than answers at this point. With Michigan in town playing better hockey, it figures to be a tough weekend to get back on track.

6. Bowling Green (10-13-5, LW: 8). Anyone notice the Falcons are 8-3-2 in their last 13 games? How about the fact they just beat LSSU by a combined score 11-4?

7. Ferris State (13-11-4, LW: 5). It might be a little harsh dropping the Bulldogs this far for a loss and tie against one of the best teams in the league, but consider this more a function of how well everyone else is playing.

8. Michigan (10-16-2, LW: 10). Will a sweep over MSU set things right in Ann Arbor? A big road series in South Bend is a good measuring stick.

9. LSSU (13-16-1, LW: 7). The Lakers seem to be struggling right now winning one one of their last seven games. They do have a weekend off to regroup before back to back home series.

10. Northern Michigan (11-12-4, LW: 9). Let's see if the weekend off helps Northern, they do play five of their next seven on the road.

11. Michigan State (7-18-3, LW: 11). Will MSU hit a double digit win total this year? Since the GLI - MSU has lost three in a row three times. They have yet to lose four straight.

Big Ten Power Rankings

1. Minnesota (18-4-4, LW: 1). Minnesota didn't win this past weekend! They didn't play either. A big series at current WCHA leader St. Cloud State awaits.

2. Ohio State (11-11-6, LW: 3). They got to .500, but the next step forward is to get above .500 and put themselves in position for a bye. Then maybe home ice.

3. Wisconsin (11-9-6, LW: 2).  A rough weekend in North Dakota can be forgotten with a strong finish - 7 of Wisconsin's last 10 are at home.

4. Michigan (10-16-2, LW: 4). Time will tell if the Wolverines have found themselves.

5. Penn State (10-13-0, LW: 6). They swept Ohio (club) this past weekend. Upcoming is UAH.

6. Michigan State (7-18-3, LW: 5). I just can't keep a team that is now 11 games below .500 ahead of someone that isn't.