Spartans Host Irish in CCHA Set
Jan. 9, 2013
The Spartans host Notre Dame in just their second home CCHA weekend of the season. The Spartans were swept by the Irish in South Bend in December.
The Irish are the top-ranked offensive team in the CCHA, and rank second in the league and third in the country in team defense. Notre Dame had a Tuesday night game at No. 1 Minnesota, falling 3-1 to the Gophers.
MSU owns a 60-41-4 record all-time against the Irish, a series that became considerably closer due to MSU's 11-game winless streak against Notre Dame which reached from January 2008 until the Spartans snapped that streak with a win in the final regular-season game last February, a 4-2 win. MSU went 0-8-3 over those 11 games.
MSU dropped two games to the Irish in South Bend back in December a 3-2 Friday loss followed by a 5-1 decision on Saturday. Brent Darnell had both goals in the Friday decision, while Matt Berry had the lone goal in the Saturday contest. Jake Hildebrand was MSU's goalie for the first game, and Will Yanakeff was the Saturday starter.
Michigan State Director of Hockey Operations Adam Nightingale and Notre Dame volunteer assistant coach Jason Nightingale are brothers. Jason played at Lake Superior State, and Adam played two years at LSSU before transferring to Michigan State and serving as a team alternate captain. Their youngest brother, Jared, also played at Michigan State and was an alternate captain, and is currently playing for the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson is a 1978 Michigan State graduate.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
Michigan State fell to Ferris State on the road Saturday evening, 3-0, its second consecutive loss.
The Spartans have played a majority of their games on the road this season (13 of 20), and are 2-9-2 in games away from Munn Ice Arena. This is MSU's third two-game home series this season, and just the second set of back-to-back conference games at home for MSU.
MSU has won just one game since the Dec. 10 victory over Michigan - the Spartans have gone 1-7-2 since, the lone victory a 3-1 win at home over Ferris State on Dec. 15.
MSU has won on a Friday night just once this season, a come-from-behind victory over Niagara at home. The Spartans are a much more respectable 4-4-2 on Saturdays.
MSU is in a stretch where eight of 10 games are against Notre Dame and Ferris State (four each). The other two games were in the Great Lakes Invitational against Western Michigan and Michigan.
MSU is 0-0-3 this season in overtime games. MSU won the non-conference shootout against Niagara in November, and lost the shootout after a 2-2 tie with Miami in conference play. Most recently, a shootout loss to Western Michigan denied the Spartans a shot in the Great Lakes Invitational final..
MSU begins a stretch where six of seven games (including an exhibition game) will be played at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans have had just seven home dates prior to Friday's series-opener against the Irish.
The Spartans have just one overnight road trip remaining in the regular season - when they play at Alaska (Feb. 22-23).
Michigan State has played 13 games against seven teams which are among the nation's top 20 in team defense, and nine of those games came against teams ranked in the top eight. Miami (1.55 goals per game), Notre Dame (1.74 gpg), Minnesota (1.80 gpg), Western Michigan (1.95 gpg) and Ohio State (2.05 gpg) are all in the top eight nationally, while Lake Superior State (2.32 gpg) and Ferris State (2.45 gpg) round out MSU opponents in the top 20.
The Spartans split each of their first three CCHA series, but have not come away with a win in any of their last three conference weekends - a tie and a loss at Miami, and sweeps by Ohio State (home) and Notre Dame (road).
The Spartan schedule thus far has featured stiff competition. MSU opened the season at No. 2 Minnesota, and played its other non-conference series against Atlantic Hockey leader Niagara. MSU has played an additional seven conference games against nationally-ranked opponents Notre Dame, Miami, Michigan, and Ferris State. While the GLI tie with the Broncos will not register in the conference standings, it is the 10th game this season for MSU against a ranked opponent.
Over the last two-plus seasons, MSU is undefeated at home in non-conference games. MSU was 3-0-1 last season against Robert Morris and Minnesota, and was 2-0-2 against Alabama-Huntsville and Maine in 2010-11. MSU is now 1-0-1 in 2012-13, with a January series against future Big Ten foe Penn State on the docket.
At the game against Michigan on Nov. 10, a new Munn Ice Arena attendance figure of 7,225 was achieved, bettering the previous record of 7,121 set on March 1, 2001 - also against the Wolverines.
Michigan State was selected seventh in the pre-season poll of Central Collegiate Hockey Association (CCHA) head coaches, and sixth in a survey of the conference's media.
Michigan State is no longer receiving votes in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll or the USA Hockey Magazine poll (top 15).
A total of 25 Michigan State hockey games - including 16 of 19 home regular-season contests - will be televised during the 2012-13 season. Twenty-four games of the 50-game CCHA regular-season schedule involve the Spartans.
Tom Anastos owns a 24-28-6 overall record in his second season behind the bench. He is the only coach in MSU history to lead his team to an NCAA Tournament berth in his first season at the helm. He was a CCHA Coach of the Year finalist in 2012.
In addition to moving indoors to Joe Louis Arena, another side effect of the cancellation of the Winter Classic is that MSU debuted its script "Michigan State" logo jerseys earlier than anticipated. The Spartans had planned on unveiling their vintage-look sweaters at the GLI - a return of the script "Michigan State" logo which was an iconic look for the Spartans for nearly 30 years. MSU is 2-2-0 in the white script jerseys this season.
Heading into the final season of the CCHA, MSU sits second all-time in CCHA regular-season crowns, with seven (Michigan owns 11). MSU's 11 Tournament titles is three more than Michigan's eight.
MSU's penalty kill, which has been a strength this season, has allowed a power play goal in each of the last two games - but they were the only penalties they had to kill each game. (Both Michigan and Ferris State were 1-for-1 on the PP over the last two games.)
The MSU penalty kill is 67/ 78 (85.9%), which is still fourth in the CCHA and 15th nationally.
MSU's owned a streak of 15 consecutive successfully killed penalties heading into the Great Lakes Invitational game against Michigan on Dec. 30. It was MSU's second-longest PK streak of the season - MSU had a streak of 20 consecutive kills snapped at Notre Dame on Dec. 7.
MSU allowed two power-play goals in five chances on Dec. 7 at Notre Dame, only the second time the Spartans allowed more than one power-play goal in a game this season. The first was a 3-2 loss at Lake Superior State.
MSU's power play is operating at a 17.1% success rate, (13/76), which is good for fourth in the CCHA and 26th nationally. MSU has not scored an extra-man tally in the last five games (16 chances).
TRENDS, STREAKS, AND TENDENCIES
The 1-1 tie with Western Michigan in the GLI semifinals was the third time this season that the Spartans followed a win with a tie. In all three cases, MSU followed the tie with a loss.
Michigan State has scored 19 of its 40 goals this season in the third period. Conversely, 37 of the 54 the Spartans have allowed have come in the first or second period.
Matt Berry lead the Spartans with points in 10 of MSU's 19 games. Matt DeBlouw, Brent Darnell and have points in eight, Tanner Sorenson and Lee Reimer have points in six, and Greg Wolfe has points in five.
NUMBERS DON'T LIE
MSU has allowed its opponent to score first in 15 of its 20 games this season; MSU is 4-1-0 when scoring first and 1-11-3 when allowing the first goal.
MSU has been outshot in 10 of its last 12 games. On the season, MSU averages 26.5 shots per game, compared to 30.9 per game for its opponents.
Thirteen skaters have appeared in all 20 games, and each of them have at least one point.
Freshman netminder Jake Hildebrand has seven losses on the season, and the Spartans have scored just four goals in those seven games combined. He is in the top 10 nationally in both GAA (1.93, 15th) and GAA (.938, eighth), but is 67th in winning percentage (3-7-2, .333)
Jake Hildebrand has allowed more than two goals in just two of his 12 starts this season, a 3-2 loss at Notre Dame on Dec. 7, and the 5-2 game against Michigan at the GLI in which he allowed four.
Seven different players have each had at least two multiple-point games each this season: John Draeger, Tanner Sorenson, Matt DeBlouw, Brent Darnell, Matt Berry, Lee Reimer, and Greg Wolfe. Berry and Darnell each have four, leading the team in multiple-point efforts.
The Spartans were shut out three times in eight games in the month of November. After scoring seven goals against Michigan on Nov. 10, the Spartans scored a combined six goals during the six-game winless streak. MSU had three tallies in its win over Ferris State on Dec. 15.
MSU is 0-12-2 when scoring two goals or fewer.
On four occasions, the Spartans have allowed just one goal - but are 1-2-1 in those games. MSU has suffered 1-0 losses to both Bowling Green and Ohio State.
Redshirt freshman Branden Carney has been medically disqualified from continuing his hockey career. Carney fractured his C1 and C2 vertebrae in a practice fall last October. While his career in a "collision sport" is over, he is expected to lead a full life with virtually no limitations.
Matt Berry has tied his freshman-year total with 11 goals, which currently leads the CCHA and is the third-most nationally.
The line of Berry, Brent Darnell, and Matt DeBlouw have a combined 20-25-45 scoring line this season - that accounts for half of MSU's 40 goals, more than a third of its 73 assists, and just shy of 40% of its total offensive output (113 points).
Tanner Sorenson has more than doubled his freshman-year goal output, and he scored fifth marker of the season against Michigan (Dec. 30).
Jake Hildebrand allowed the most goals in any of his 12 starts with four against Michigan. He owns a 1.93 GAA and .938 save percentage, which still ranks sixth and third, respectively, in the CCHA. He is 15th in GAA and eighth in save percentage nationally.
Hildebrand made his sixth consecutive start on Dec. 7 vs. Notre Dame. He is the first freshman to make six consecutive starts since Jeff Lerg in 2005-06, who's first six consecutive starts came in January that season.
Matt DeBlouw's four goals and nine assists (13 points) has him third among CCHA freshmen in points.
Brent Darnell has surpassed his freshman-year total of 13 points (five goals, eight assists), and he is in the second spot in the team's scoring chart (5-9-14).
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