Monday, March 4, 2013

Know Thy Playoff Enemy: Alaska - A Look Back

Michigan State and Alaska will meet each other this weekend for the 11th, 12th, and perhaps 13th time in the post season. The two teams have played 10 games in the play-offs up to this point. This includes four series and a single game at Joe Louis Arena. MSU leads the all-time playoff series 6-4. Michigan State swept two series, won a third series in three games, and Alaska has swept a series, and won the lone Joe Louis Arena playoff meeting.

Here is a look back at each of those series:

March 9-10, 2001  #10 Alaska at #1 Michigan State - CCHA First Round

Michigan State dominated the CCHA in the regular season going 21-4-3 in route to a 10 point championship win over second play Miami and Michigan. The Spartans went on to finish the 2001 season in the Frozen Four losing to North Dakota. This season was the last season that only 10 of the 12 teams made the playoffs. Alaska squeaked in with a 7-14-7 record finishing 1 point higher than 11th place Notre Dame and actually tying Bowling Green for 9th. BGSU had one more win though, so they won the tiebreaker for the 9 seed.

Michigan State dominated the season series sweeping the Nanooks in February of that season by a combined score of 7-1.

Game 1: Box Score // USCHO Recap

The Spartans went 3-5 with the extra man in route to a dominating 5-2 victory over Alaska-Fairbanks in game #1 of the best of 3 first round series. The Spartans jumped out to a 3-1 first period lead on goals by Sean Patchell, Adam Hall, and Brian Maloney. Maloney would add his second goal of the evening early on in the third period, and Rustyn Dolyny rounded out the scoring for Michigan State. The Nanooks would add a late goal as Ryan Miller stopped 32 of 34 shots.

Game 2: Box Score // USCHO Recap

Down 2-1 late in the 3rd period, John Nail tallied a power play marker to force a tie with just 2:42 to go in regulation. Michigan State would use that momentum to end the game in overtime as Sean Patchell added his second goal of the series. Brian Maloney put MSU on the board late in the second period, though the Nanooks took a 2-1 lead into the locker room in the second intermission. MSU out-shot Alaska 19-8 in the 3rd period and 44-33 for the game.

Michigan State would go on to defeat Bowling Green and Michigan to win the CCHA Tournament.

March 14-15, 2003         #9 Alaska at #4 Michigan State  - CCHA First Round

The Spartans struggled early on, but they finished strong and ending up in 4th place in the CCHA with a 17-10-1 league record - just one point out of 3rd. Alaska ended up in a tie for 8th place, though with only 10 conference wins, they lost the tiebreaker to Western (13 wins). The Spartans swept the season series winning both games in East Lansing in early January (5-2, 6-2). The Spartan offense was rolling scoring 20 goals over their final four games.

Game 1: Box Score // Recap

The offense continued rolling right into the first game of the playoffs as the Spartans destroyed Alaska 11-1 to kick-off the post season. This included five goals in the opening period - two by Brock Radunske, one by Kevin Estrada, Ash Goldie, and Colton Fretter. Alaska managed to pull within four goals, but Michigan State's  David Booth and Jim Slater would put MSU up 7-1 going into the 3rd. They weren't done then as Brock Radunske got the hat trick just 35 seconds in the final period, and Jim Slater & Ash Goldie added their second goals of the game. Michigan State out-shot Alaska 39-31 for the game, and the Nanooks actually used all three goalies. The Spartans Matt Migliaccio had 30 saves.

Game 2: Box Score // Recap

This game proved to be much closer, but the Spartans rallied for a 3-1 victory on a strong effort from Matt Migliaccio in goal and goals from Lee Falardeau, Brian Maloney, and Tim Hearon. Migliaccio made 35 saves as the Spartans advance to Joe Louis Arena for a quarterfinal date with Northern Michigan. That game proved to be a wild one as the Wildcats won 7-5 ending Michigan State's NCAA tournament streak in the process.

March 19, 2005   #6 Michigan State vs. #8 Alaska - CCHA Consolation Game

Box Score// Game Recap

The Nanooks went to the Joe for the first time ever and finished the tournament winning the 3rd place game over Michigan State. The Spartans ended a disappointing year finishing in 6th place in the CCHA with a 12-13-3 league mark. Despite the regular season, the Spartans found themselves in the CCHA semi-finals dropping the game to Ohio State 4-1. The Spartans couldn't rally from a 2-0 or 3-1 hole in this one, though they did make it interesting losing a 3-2 contest. Tom Goebel and Adam Nightingale scored the goals for MSU. Dominic Vicari ended the game with 23 saves on 26 shots.

March 10 - 12, 2006   #8 Alaska-Fairbanks at #2 Michigan State - CCHA Quarterfinals

In the first season of the current play-off format (1st round byes - in this case for the top 4 teams), the Spartans streak to Joe Louis Arena nearly ended as they were pushed to the brink of elimination by dropping the first game of the series. Michigan State would rebound to the tune of winning the CCHA Tournament and the Ron Mason Cup. It was the last time MSU won the CCHA tournament. The Spartans finished the CCHA season in second place (14-7-7) well behind regular season champion Miami. Alaska finished in a tie for 8th place with Notre Dame.

The Spartans won the regular season series 3-0-1, as they swept the series in East Lansing in January (4-0, 2-1) and won and tied in Alaska in December (4-4, 3-0).

Game 1:  Box Score // Game Recap

Alaska handed Michigan State its first home loss in ten years by hanging on to defeat MSU 2-1 at Munn. Michigan State's only goal was scored by David Booth with just 38 seconds to go in the second period. The Spartan power play went 1 for 11 on the season, and Jeff Lerg ended the game with 27 saves as MSU out-shot Alaska 37-29 for the game.

Game 2: Box Score  // Game Recap

The Spartans blew open a close game with four second period goals en route to a 6-1 victory over the Nanooks. Jim McKenzie started the scoring on the power play to give MSU a 1-0 lead. That lead would hold to past the midway point of the game when Chris Mueller put MSU up 2-0. Then less than a minute later, Drew Miller made it 3-0. The Spartans had a pair of 5 on 3 goals late in the period by Tim Crowder and Bryan Lerg. The third period saw a pair of 5 on 3 goals as well - the first by Chris Lawrence and the last one by Alaska's Kyle Jones to spoil the shutout. Michigan State went 4 for 12 with the extra man, and Alaska went 1 for 9. Jeff Lerg ended the game with 30 saves.

Game 3: Box Score // Game Recap

A wild third game saw Michigan State beat Alaska 7-4 to advance to the Joe. Alaska actually got on board first just 1:10 into the game. The Spartans tied the game just 30 seconds later on a goal by Chris Mueller. Drew Miller scored the first of three just 70 seconds later to put MSU up 2-1. Michigan State out-shot Alaska 16-7 in the first period and 21-8 in the second period. The middle period saw wildness early as three goals were tallied just 53 seconds apart from each other. Eethan Graham and David Booth tallied goals in that span and Michigan State held a 4-2 lead. Drew Miller added his second goal to give MSU a seemingly comfortable 5-2 lead heading into the final period. Alaska kept battling pulling back to within two on the power play just 23 seconds into the 3rd period. Corey Potter would respond about four minutes later only to see Alaska pull back to within two with 10:02 to go in the game. The scoring would finally settle down until Miller finished it with his hat trick goal just inside 2 minutes to go.

Michigan State would go on to defeat Michigan (4-1) and Miami (2-1) to win the Mason Cup. Michigan State would earn a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament this season only to lose a heart breaker to Maine in the regional final.

March 4-5, 2011    #10 Michigan State at #7 Alaska   -  CCHA First Round

The Spartans finished the 2010 - 2011 season with an 11-15-2 league mark just 3 points behind Alaska (1 win), and only 2 points behind 8th place (and home ice). That difference would prove to be huge as Michigan State went out west and dropped a pair of very tough games.  Michigan State went out to Alaska on the second to last weekend of the regular season and split. The Nanooks took the first game (2-1), and Michigan State responded with a dominating 6-2 victory. The next trip out west wouldn't be quite as friendly though.

Game 1: Box Score

Michigan State held two leads (1-0, 2-1) in this game - including one in the third period, but the Nanooks would rally each time eventually winning the game very late in the first overtime. Jake Chelios would put the Spartans up 1-0 in the second period with a power play marker. Michael Quinn for Alaska would pull the Nanooks even with a goal late in the period. Tim Buttery put MSU up in the third period with 11:34 to go. However, just over three minutes later the Nanooks would pull even once again. Then, Nik Yaremchuk would score the game winner with just 20 seconds to go in the first overtime period. Drew Palmisano would stop 34 shots.

Game 2: Box Score

The Spartans dropped another heart breaker in Alaska - only this time it took until the second overtime to end the game. Alaska jumped out to a 1-0 lead 7:54 into the game. Dean Chelios and Dustin Gazley would bring MSU the lead heading into the second period. Alaska put a pair of goals on the board to retake the lead, but with just 41 seconds to go Brett Perlini pulled the Spartans even. The third and fourth periods didn't see anyone score, and once again Nik Yaremchuk proved to be the hero as he ended the Spartans' season and the Rick Comley era just 3:18 into the second overtime period. Will Yanakeff made 30 saves. Michigan State's power play was only 1 for 9 in the game.

So there you have it - the complete Alaska-Michigan State CCHA playoff history. Only days remain until the next chapter is written.

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