MSUSpartans.com Recap // BGSUFalcons.com Recap
MSUSpartans.com Recap // BGSUFalcons.com Recap // USCHO Recap
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.
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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?