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

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