Hockey Carries Unbeaten Streak to Upper Peninsula
Spartans to face Lake Superior, Northern Michigan.
January 19, 1999
The Weekend - Michigan State, which tied Bowling Green, 2-2, and defeated Miami, 5-1, on the road last weekend, enters this weekend with an 19-3-3 overall record (13-2-3 and in first place, CCHA). The Spartans, ranked third in the nation in this weeks USCHO poll and carrying a 12-game unbeaten streak, travel to Michigans Upper Peninsula for two games this weekend. Friday the Spartans travel to Lake Superior to meet the Lakers (4-15-3 overall, 3-11-2 CCHA) at "Taffy" Abel Arena (4,000). Saturday MSU meets Northern Michigan (15-9-0, 10-8-0) for the last time at Marquette Lakeview Arena (4,105). Both games can be heard on WVFN-AM 730 (world wide at www.gamecruiser.com/michiganstate/index.htm).
The Coaches - Head coach Ron Mason (St. Lawrence 64), in his 20th year at Michigan State and his 33rd as a head coach in college hockey, builds upon his legendary status with each victory. He is the all-time winningest college hockey coach with 827 career victories, boasting an 827-352-66 overall record. He has a 538-242-52 mark at Michigan State.
Lake Superior head coach Scott Borek (Dartmouth 85) is 38-47-12 in three years with the Lakers. He is 71-80-17 overall, including three seasons with the White Mules of Colby College.
Northern Michigans Rick Comley (Lake Superior 72) stands 524-431-53 in 26 seasons overall, including 465-385-50 in 23 years at NMU. QUOTING COACH MASON
On this weekend: "Going to Lake Superior and Northern Michigan is always a difficult trip to make. Weve beaten these teams before, but they were all close, tough games and you wonder if that is going to catch up with you eventually.
"We just need to keep playing hard and making sure that we have a chance to win every game that we play."
About the Lakers - Lake Superior enters Fridays game in last place in the CCHA, but just three points out of eighth place with four games in hand on Miami. The Lakers have won just one of their last seven games, a 3-2 upset of Ohio State. Forward Tobin Praznik (9-5-14) leads LSSU offensively, followed by Trent Walford (2-9-11). The top two goaltenders have been Jayme Platt (3-10-1, 3.19, .882) and former Spartan Mike Brusseau (1-2-2, 3.75, .874).
The Series vs. the Lakers - MSU leads, 41-27-8, including a 14-11-6 edge in the Soo. MSU beat LSSU in a tight 2-1 game Nov. 7 at Munn. MSU has won the last five meetings, and is 5-0-2 since a 5-0 loss Dec. 27, 1996, at Joe Louis Arena. MSU clinched the CCHA title at Abel Arena with a 4-1 win last March 6, and is 1-0-4 there in the last five meetings.
About the Wildcats - Northern Michigan is in sixth place in the CCHA entering Fridays game against Notre Dame. NMU has won four games in a row (outscoring opponents 20-7 in that time) since dropping back-to-back games to MSU in December. The trio of Buddy Smith (5-24-29), J.P. Vigier (17-8-25) and Roger Trudeau (13-10-23) continues to lead the Wildcats, while Dan Ragusett (9-5-0, 2.58, .908) has been the goaltender of record in each of the last six games.
The Series vs. the Wildcats - MSU leads, 12-9-1, but trails, 3-4-0 in Marquette. The Spartans have won all three meetings this year, all by two goals or less (3-1 Oct. 30, 2-1 Dec. 12, 5-3 Dec. 26). MSU has won four straight overall, dating back to a 5-1 NMU win 3/7/98, MSUs most recent visit to Lakeview.
Last weekends recap - Michigan State came back from one-goal deficits on two occasions to earn a 2-2 tie at Bowling Green Friday. Shawn Horcoff and Andrew Bogle had the MSU goals, while Joe Blackburn made 20 saves, including several point-blank glove stops.
Mike York and Shawn Horcoff both had two goals and an assist to lead MSU to a 5-1 win over Miami Saturday night at The Crown in Cincinnati. York scored first just 11 seconds into the game and the Spartans cruised from there.
If you use just one MSU note this week, perhaps this should be it
Producing the pros - With last weeks call-ups of Mike Buzak to the New Jersey Devils and Peter White to the Philadelphia Flyers, 16 former Spartans have now made it to the National Hockey League this season (BrindAmour, Carter, Cummins, Essensa, Guolla, Kelly Miller, Kevin Miller, Kip Miller, Murphy, Murray, Smolinski, Watt, Wilkinson, Woolley). That is better representation in the NHL than any other college.
Did You Know?
Clean sweep - Michigan State holds its annual broom ball game against the Legal Eagles Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Munn Ice Arena. The game, which pits MSU against a group of local lawyers and judges, benefits local childrens charities. Tickets are $2 and available at the MSU Athletic Ticket Office or at the door Tuesday night.
Streaking - While MSUs tie against Bowling Green ended the Spartans winning streak at 10 games, MSU is unbeaten in its last 12 games (11-0-1). The 10-game winning streak was the longest in Division I hockey this year. The current unbeaten streak is MSUs longest since a 14-game run from Jan. 5 to Feb. 23, 1990.
Horcoff is on - Junior center Shawn Horcoff has a five-game point-scoring streak entering this weekend in which he has totaled 4-4-8. MSU is 12-0-1 when Horcoff has a point. He moved into second on the team in scoring over the weekend and is averaging over a point per game. Horcoff has eight multiple-point games this season.
Two is too many - Michigan State has allowed one goal or less in 76 percent of its games (19 of 25), including seven of the last eight games. MSUs NCAA-leading team defense of 1.28 goals against per game is more than half a goal better than any other team in the nation.
Shooting stars - Michigan State has outshot 23 of 25 opponents (18-2-3), including each of the last 10 foes. The Spartans are outshooting opponents by an average of 31.1-19.3 per game.
Get the Sensation! - Senior center and Hobey Baker Award candidate Mike York had two goals and an assist on the weekend. He leads the Spartans in scoring with 34 points (16-18-34) in 25 games. Some other Mike York notes:
passed his freshman-year linemate Anson Carter in MSU career points Saturday night and currently stands tied for 20th in career points with Bryan Smolinski; he also passed Jason Woolley in career assists Saturday night
shares the CCHA lead in scoring in all games (34 points) and in league games (26)
he has had a hand in more goals (34) than MSU opponents have scored (32)
has four multiple-goal games in the last 11 games
leads the team or shares the team lead in goals (16), assists (18), points (34), game-winning goals (4), power-play goals (4), shots (108) and plus/minus (+23)
a terrific two-way player, he leads MSU at +23 and has only been on the ice once when the opponent has scored a a 5-on-5 goal in over 500 shifts
logs between 25 and 30 minutes of ice time each night
INJURY REPORT - Freshman defenseman Andrew Hutchinson is out for approximately four weeks with a sprained left knee suffered vs. Miami. Hutchinson, a two-time CCHA Rookie of the Week, has assists in six of his last eight games and is 1-7-8 and +8 on the season.
Coaching connections - Friday night Ron Mason faces Lake Superior, the school where he started the hockey program and started his head coaching career in 1966-67. He spent seven years at Lake Superior and posted a 129-47-8 record (.728).
One of Masons players at Lake Superior was NMU head coach Rick Comley, who Mason lured away from Detroit Red Wings training camp. Comley later served as one of Masons assistant coaches at LSSU and is the only one of Masons former assistants with over 500 coaching victories of his own. He succeeded Mason as the Lakers head coach when Mason left for Bowling Green in 1973.
Sweet and sour - Michigan States last Lake Superior-Northern Michigan road trip produced mixed results. The Spartans clinched the 1997-98 CCHA regular-season title last March 6 with a 4-1 win at Lake Superior. The next night MSU suffered one of just six losses on the year, 5-1 at Northern Michigan in the regular-season finale.
Great goalies - Michigan State has the top two leaders in goals-against average and save percentage in the CCHA in Mike Gresl (1.00, .949) and Joe Blackburn (1.37, .927). The pair have combined for a 1.27 GAA and a .934 save percentage with three shutouts. Blackburn played both games last weekend, the first time he has played on back-to-back nights for the Spartans since Nov. 20-21.
Tall hands - Michigan State has some staggering short-handed notes. Among them:
MSU has scored as many goals as its opponents when opponents are on the power play (10 MSU SHGs and 10 opponent PPGs)
MSU scored three SHGs in the first period at Alaska Fairbanks Jan. 3, equalling the total number of SHGs MSU scored in all of last season (44 games)
Rustyn Dolyny and Shawn Horcoff share the national lead with three SHGs apiece
MSU has given up at least one PPG in each of the last three games, the first time that has happened all year
MSU has killed off 92.1 percent of opponents power plays, leading the NCAA and an improvement over last seasons school record 90.2 percent
Shot blockers - Michigan States defensemen have excelled at blocking shots, especially Mike Weaver, Jeff Kozakowski and Chris Bogas. The Spartans have blocked an average of 10.2 shots per game (256 in 25 games).
Moons over Miami - The Spartans swept their three-game series against Miami this year and outscored the RedHawks 15-2 in the process. MSU had five goals in each game and has allowed just three goals in its last six games against Miami.
Quick strikes - Mike Yorks goal 11 seconds into the first period Saturday night was the Spartans fastest goal at the start of a period this year. MSU also scored 11 seconds after a center-ice faceoff Friday night, when Andrew Bogle tied the score 2-2 just after Bowling Green had scored to take the lead.
Former Spartan - Lake Superior goaltender Mike Brusseau played from 1995-97 at MSU before transferring to the Soo. He made 15 appearances as Chad Albans backup.
Home sweet home - The Spartans have a school-record 24-game unbeaten streak (20-0-4) at Munn Ice Arena. MSU did not lose in Munn in the calendar year of 1998.
Saturday night special - Michigan State is undefeated on Saturdays this season (10-0-1). The Spartans are 9-3-2 when they play on Fridays or Sundays.