Icers Host Last Regular-Season Home Weekend; Honor Seniors
MSU Hockey Weekly
Feb. 16, 2012
|No. 17 Michigan State vs. No. 4/6 Michigan|
|Dates||Friday-Saturday, Feb. 17-18, 2012|
|Game Times||(F) 7:05 p.m. (S) 7:30 p.m. (to accommodate Senior Night)|
|Location|| East Lansing, Mich.; Munn Ice Arena (Cap. 6,470; 200x85)
|Televison|| (S) FS Detroit DirecTV Ch. 663; Dish Network Ch. 430)
|Radio||WJIM 1240 AM|
|Tickets||(F) Munn Seating Chart | Ticket Info
|Game Notes||Download PDF (MSU)|
|Internet Coverage||Live Stats | Live Audio|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook|
|Press Conference Video||Head Coach Tom Anastos
Brett Perlini and Brock Shelgren
|Press Conference Audio||Head Coach Tom Anastos | Brett Perlini | Brock Shelgren|
|Promotions||(F) Four Seats Four Treats (S) Senior Night ceremony pre-game; Post-game autographs (seniors).|
Michigan State has its final regular-season home series on the docket, as Alaska comes to East Lansing for the only meeting of the season of the two teams.
On the radio, all games will be carried by the Spartan Sports Network. Both games will air live on WJIM 1240 AM. Scott Moore and Rob Woodward are in their seventh season together on the call of Spartan hockey.
Saturday's game will be called by Ben Holden and Darren Elliot for Fox Sports Detroit, with Shannon Hogan handling rinkside duties.
Live audio on the internet can be found at www.spartansportsnetwork.com.
The Spartans lead the all-time series by a 39-15-3 mark, but Alaska won three of the four games played between the squads last season; that includes a sweep by the Nanooks in the first round of the CCHA Tournament in Fairbanks. In the regualar-season games, Alaska won the first game before MSU rebounded with a win to earn the split. MSU made two trips to Alaska within 14 days last February/March, as the teams also met in the season's penultimate weekend in February 2011, then headed back for the first round of the playoffs.
MSU is coming off a split with archrival Michigan, each team winning by a 3-2 margin. The Wolverines won the season series 2-1-1, and also won the non-conference meeting of the teams in the GLI final, 3-2 in overtime.
On Friday, junior All-America candidate Torey Krug singlehandedly brought Michigan State out of a two-goal hole and his assist on Matt Berry's game-winner in the third period as the No. 17 Spartans downed archrival Michigan, 3-2, in front of 7,103 fans at Munn Ice Arena.
An overtime game-winner by Kevin Lynch 1:50 into the extra period gave Michigan a 3-2 victory over Michigan State in the annual meeting of the teams at Joe Louis Arena. Greg Wolfe and Brett Perlini had the scores for the Spartans, while Yanakeff made 32 saves for MSU on the night, including three saves in overtime. The teams played in front of a sellout crowd of 20,066.
Alaska holds down the current No. 10 spot in the CCHA standings, but has split each of their last four series (BG, Notre Dame, Western Michigan, and Lake Superior). Cody Kunyk is the team's top offensive producer with a 13-15-28 line, trailed by classmate Colton Beck (12-11-23) and junior Andy Taranto (9-11-20). In net, senior Scott Greenham owns a 2.47 GAA and .905 save percentage.
MSU has nine seniors on the roster this season, the largest senior class since the 1977-78 campaign under Amo Bessone, which had 10. The nine Spartan skaters (forwards Daultan Leveille, Mike Merrifield, Brett Perlini, and Trevor Nill; Defensemen Matt Crandell, Tim Buttery, Brock Shelgren, and AJ Sturges, goaltender Drew Palmisano) plus a senior manager (Sean Lerg) will be honored in a pre-game ceremony.
This will be the third MSU Senior night for the Sturges family, as senior AJ will take the lap around Munn. Sturges' brother, Dan, graduated in 2009, and their father, John, was a four-year letterman and played his last Munn games in 1976.
From its opening-day roster of 27 athletes, the Spartans have lost three skaters to injury for the season, and one player (senior Kyle McMahon) left the team for personal reasons. Freshman Justin Hoomaian (leg injury) played the opening five games before being injured, but will miss the remainder of the season, and has applied for a medical redshirt.
Freshman Branden Carney fractured his C1 and C2 vertebrae on Thursday, Nov. 3. Carney returned to campus in late November, and is enrolled for spring semester. He remains under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Bill.
On Oct. 25, junior Zach Golembiewski decided to end his competitive hockey career on the advice of medical professionals after the discovery of an underlying issue that was hindering any improvement after a back injury.
The Spartans added freshman Nathan Phillips to the roster for the spring semester. The 6-1, 165-pound goaltender most recently played for Winnipeg South Blues.
The Spartan hockey team turned in a combined fall semester grade point average of 3.0613, the highest single-semester GPA since the department's Student-Athlete Support Services (SASS) started keeping records in 1997. Additionally, the team now has a cumulative GPA of 3.0805, the second-highest cumulative GPA in the same time frame.
Ten current players received Academic All-Big Ten honors in spring 2011 for maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better.
MSU had 17 of its 25 varsity athletic teams achieve a 3.0 GPA in the fall 2011 semester.
The Spartans are at No. 16 in the USCHO.com poll and are the team outside the top 15 receiving the most votes in the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today survey. MSU has been ranked in at least one poll since Nov. 21.
The Spartans sit in a tie for fifth place in the CCHA standings with 38 points, one point behind fourth-place Ohio State and three behind third-place Michigan. Ferris State (47) and Western Michigan (45) hold down the top two spots. With four games to play, MSU could still finish anywhere from first to ninth in the regular-season standings.
In terms of the CCHA race, we don't know much - with the standings tightly packed and four games remaining, the only certain is that it will not be settled at the end of this weekend's games.
Ohio State owns the same number of wins as MSU, but is one point ahead of the Spartans in the standings; the Buckeyes are idle this weekend. The first tiebreaker in the CCHA is league wins, and MSU has the third-most (11) behind Ferris' 14 and WMU and MIchigan's 12. OSU, Miami, and Notre Dame all have 11 as well - and next weekend, the Spartans will travel to Notre Dame as OSU and Miami face off as well.
MSU recorded its 16th victory of the season with a 3-2 home win over Michigan last Friday, surpassing last year's win total. The Spartans improved to 6-2-1 this season against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game.
Michigan State has scored 99 goals in 32 games this season, and has surpassed the 98 scored last year. MSU is second in the league and 15th nationally (3.09 goals per game).
With two wins in Columbus to kick off February, the Spartans, who had not won a road CCHA game since Nov. 18 at Northern Michigan, registered their second road sweep of the season and first since a November set at Western Michigan.
Former Spartan skater (1982-85) and assistant coach Tom Anastos takes the reigns of the MSU hockey program for the 2011-12 season, becoming just the sixth head coach in program history. Anastos spent the previous 13 seasons as CCHA commissioner.
Anastos is one of nine new head coaches in college hockey in 2011-12, not including Penn State (which will begin play next season with Guy Gadowsky at the helm).
Of those nine new coaches, Anastos is one of the three that faced a ranked team in his coaching debut with his new team. Providence's Nate Leaman's maiden voyage was a win over No. 17 Boston University, while Princeton's Bob Prier skated to a 2-2 tie with then-No. 3/6 Yale.
Of MSU's four head coaches in the modern era, it took Tom Anastos the fewest games of any of them to reach his first 10 wins. Win #10 for Rick Comley came in game #20, a January game vs. Alaska. It took Ron Mason 27 games to get to 10 wins, and it took Amo Bessone 34 contests - he did not get his 10th career victory at MSU until his second season as the head coach.
Among college hockey's nine new coaches this season, Anastos was also the first to 10 victories, on Dec. 3.
In the Rick Comley era, the Spartans owned a 42-32-7 record in games against non-conference teams. (This includes regular-season, tournament, and NCAA Tournament games). Last year, MSU went 4-2-2 against non-conference teams, and is currently 5-1-1 this season against teams from the other four leagues. MSU played one non-conference game, the GLI final, against league archrival Michigan.
MSU's 2011-12 schedule has three games against WCHA competition (two against Minnesota, and against Michigan Tech in the GLI) in addition one against Hockey East frontrunner Boston College. The Spartans also had a two-game set against Robert Morris at Munn, and one game against Air Force for three total games against Atlantic Hockey.
This season, MSU will play 24 games against nine teams in this week's USCHO Top 20 poll. So far, MSU is 9-6-4 in games played against Top 20 competition, and 6-2-1 against teams ranked in the top five at the time of the game. MSU is ranked ino. 8 in the most recent RPI.
The 13 opponents MSU has played this season are a combined 203-149-149 (.567) this season. Twelve of the 13 of them have a dozen or more wins, and only two - Michigan Tech and Bowling Green - are under .500. In addition, the Spartans have played the leaders in two of the four other Division I conferences (MSU does not have an ECAC team on its schedule this season, Air Force leads Atlantic Hockey, Minnesota leads the WCHA).
MSU's five non-conference opponents are a combined 50-55-15 (.583).
MSU has two, two-game series remaining, all in conference play. Both of those opponents are currently among the "teams under consideration" in the pairwise ranking, the main tool used in selecting the NCAA Tournament field.
MSU is tied for 12th in the most recent PWRand has an RPI of eight, which (combined with its challenging schedule remaining) has the Spartans very much in the thick of the hunt for an NCAA Tournament bid.
Ten of MSU's opponents are among the 31 teams "under consideration" in the pairwise - the Spartans are 10-10-4 against eight of them, with two games remaining against Notre Dame (18th), and Alaska (t-30).
MSU recorded its 10th victory of the season on Dec. 3. It is the earliest MSU has owned 10 victories since the 2007-08 season, when win No. 10 came on Dec. 1 vs. LSSU.
On Feb. 10, the Spartans reached 16 victories, surpassing its win total from the 2010-11 season. MSU won 19 games in 2009-10, and 10 in 2008-09.
MSU had three straight CCHA weekends at home to start January (Miami, Northern Michigan, and Lake Superior), and went 2-2-2 in those games.
On the season, MSU is 9-3-4 in games at Munn Ice Arena, with the losses coming against CCHA-leading Ohio State and Miami (twice).
MSU went .500 or better in each of the first three months of the season. The Spartans are already at 16 victories, after posting a total of 15 last year.
The last time MSU was .500 or better in each of the first three months of the season was in the 2007-08 campaign.
MSU was 2-4-2 in January, its first sub-.500 month in the regular season since December 2010. MSU is 3-1-0 in Februrary with four games remaining.
Last year, the Spartans employed 60 different forward line combinations in search of consistent scoring. Through 30 games, there have been 26 different combinations, the same defensive pairs have been used in the last 11 games and only six line combinations have been used for a single game.
The Spartans are 1-9-1 when scoring two or fewer goals, and 15-3-3 when scoring three or more.
MSU has been outshot this season in 15 of 32 games, and overall, MSU is -140 in total shots, an average of just over four shots per game. MSU outshot its opponents in just 14 of 38 games last season, including holding its opponents to 20 shots or less four times.
After a seven-game drought back in January, MSU had its fourth straight game with an extra-man goal last Saturday. The Spartans were 3-for-8 on the power play against the Wolverines, improving the power play to 21/121 on the season (.174).
The Spartans killed off all four power-play chances against in the series with the Wolverines, and the Spartan kill sits at 89.4% (110/123), good for second nationally and first in the CCHA. MSU is a perfect 18-for-18 in the month of February, and has killed off 20 straight chances against dating back to the Jan. 29 game against Ferris State.
MSU has allowed two goals to its opponent 13 times this season, and has allowed one, four and five goals four times each. The Spartans also have six games in which they have allowed three goals, and one shutout.
Michigan State has been swept three times this season: on the road at Lake Superior (Oct. 14-15) and Ferris State (Jan. 27-28), and at home against Miami (Jan. 6-7). The Spartans registered three weekend sweeps of their own, against Robert Morris (Oct. 28-29) and Bowling Green (Dec. 2-3) at home and on the road against Western Michigan (Nov. 11-12) and Ohio State (Feb. 3-4). That is seven of 15 weekends resulting in a sweep. Overall, seven of MSU's weekend series of 15 have been without a loss: four sweeps, and three additional weekends with a win and a tie.
In 2010-11, MSU recorded its first and only sweep of the season in the final regular-season weekend against Bowling Green.
MSU played its eighth overtime game this season, and dropped its third OT decision. The first two OT losses came in back-to-back weeks against Michigan in the GLI (Dec. 30, 3-2) and at home against Miami (Jan. 6, 2-1). The last two games against Michigan at Joe Louis Arena have been 3-2 overtime losses . MSU is 1-3-4 in overtime games (with wins in two of three shootouts in CCHA play.)
Michigan State is one of the least penalized teams in the country. Of 58 Division I teams, the Spartans are 51st (11.2PIM/game) and 9th in the CCHA.
MSU is 11-5-1 when scoring first and 5-7-3 when allowing its opponent to do so.
SPREADING THE WEALTH
Through 32 games, there are 20 skaters who have appeared in six games or more. Of those 20 players, 18 have at least three points and one goal.
Nine of MSU's 12 losses on the season are by a single goal. MSU is 6-9-0 in one-goal games this season. 22 of MSU's 32 games have been decided by two goals or less, and 19 have been by a goal or less.
MSU was shut out for the first time this season in the Jan. 7 loss to Miami (4-0). It was the first time the Spartans had been shut out in nearly a calendar year - the last time was Jan. 22, 2011 - a 4-0 loss to Miami at Munn.
The Spartans now have 12 players who have at least 10 points on the season - surpassing last season's total of 10. Ten players have already career-best offensive seasons in 2011-12.
Junior defenseman Torey Krug is the fifth player in MSU history to wear the captain's "C" on his jersey for two seasons. Last year, he was the program's first solo captain as a sophomore in team history. The alternate captains are senior Trevor Nill and junior Anthony Hayes. Nill is in his second season as an alternate captain, while this is the first captain's role for Hayes at MSU.
Krug played in his 100th career game on Jan. 20 against Lake Superior, and he is second among the team's active players in career scoring (77 points). On the season, Krug is second on the team in scoring (10-18-28), and ranks third nationally among defensemen in points and fifth among blueliners in points per game. He is tied for eighth nationally (and fourth among defensemen nationally) at a +18.
Krug was a first-team All-CCHA player last season, and was also named the league's Best Offensive Defenseman. He is a candidate for all-league and All-America honors this season.
Junior defenseman Torey Krug, a 2010 CCHA All-Rookie Team pick , a 2011 First Team All-CCHA selection and the league's Best Offensive Defenseman, is making a case to not only maintain his spot on the First Team, but also is a candidate for CCHA Player of the Year and All-America honors.
Krug is second on the team in scoring (24 points, four points shy of his best offensive season). He's sixth overall in the league in scoring, but is also among the top-scoring defensemen not only in the CCHA, but also the country. His 28 points leads all conference rearguards, and he is the only defenseman in the league with double-digit goals.
Of note, the All-Conference teams are selected on statistics in games against CCHA teams only. In that light, Krug ranks second overall in the league in scoring with 25 points (and tops among blueliners), first in power play goals (6), and plus/minus (+16), and is seventh in goals (10) and third in assists (15).
In an effort to get the team back and focused after an off day but yet keep the team loose, Mondays have become a day for a hard skate workout, but then a fun session at practice. Last week, the Spartans staged a Skills Challenge. The noteworthy performances were in the hardest shot contest, where Brett Perlini hit 99 and 100 mph, Matt Berry downed all four targets in the shooting accuracy contest, and Torey Krug potted a highlight-worthy spin-o-rama move in the shootout. The video of that goal is available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWMaOuO2mY4&feature=youtu.be.
MSU got five goals and four assists from its defensive corps in the Ohio State series, then another two goals and three assists in the two-game set against Michigan. Half (seven) of the 14 goals scored over the last two weekends were generated by the defensemen.
Lee Reimer is fifth in the league in scoring (28 points), and sits second in assists (20), and Mike Merrifield is 16th in goals (11) and tied for seventh in the league in goals per game (0.46). He also ranks fourth in the league in game-winning goals (3). Matt Berry is seventh in freshman scoring (10-7-17).
Torey Krug ranks first among league defensemen in scoring and sixth overall with a 10-18-28 line. He is tied for seventh overall in assists, third in power-play goals (6), and is second in the league in plus/minus (+18).
Matt Crandell has 15 points this season, his single-season career best.
Crandell is one of 10 Spartans to check in with a career-best offensive season:
With 25 points (10g, 15a), Greg Wolfe has bettered his freshman year total of 11 points, and sits at third on the team with +10. Lee Reimer owns a 8-20-28 scoring line, and has already well eclipsed his freshman season total of seven points (2g, 5a). Anthony Hayes - who had four points as a freshman and seven as a sophomore, now owns a 2-6-8 scoring line.
Among defensemen. senior Brock Shelgren owns a 3-10-13 scoring line; his previous best single-season point total was seven points as a junior, and he has bettered his single-season assist mark (6). Shelgren is on course to surpass his three-season total of 16 points (5g, 11a).
Two players have eclipsed their carer numbers in this season alone. Mike Merrifield had a 4-4-8 line last season, and career numbers of 6-6-12 in two and a half seasons on the Spartan roster. Despite missing eight games this season with injury, he has surpassed his three-season career- goal total (10) and currently has a 11-5-16 scoring line in just 24 games. Kevin Walrod had 11 points in his first two years (3-8-11), but this season boasts eight goals (good for third on the team in that category) and nine assists for 17 points.
Chris Forfar had 10 points in his freshman season (6g, 4a), and with a 5-5-10 line this season, has tied his career best in points and surpassed his single-season assist mark. Also tying his single-season best is Dean Chelios (14 points, which he also had as a sophomore), and AJ Sturges (1-0-1 as a freshman, and had his first goal since on Feb. 4 at Ohio State).
Senior defenseman AJ Sturges' goal in the second period of the Feb. 3 game against Ohio State was his first of the season, and second of his career.
His first goal came in his freshman season, on Nov. 10, 2007 - a stretch of 175 Michigan State games between his two collegiate tallies. He missed the entire 2008-09 season, and with a medical redshirt for that year, he is in his fifth varsity season.
Last season MSU had three double-digit goal scorers - Brett Perlini's 18 led the team, while Torey Krug and Dustin Gazley each had 11 scores. WIth four games to go in the regular season, the Spartans have Mike Merrifield with 11 goals, and Krug, Berry and Greg Wolfe with 10 each.
Matt Berry had goals in both games against the Buckeyes two weeks ago in addition to Friday's game-winner. Berry's goal on Friday was his 10th of the season, tops among freshmen and tied for second on the team overall. Last year, Jake Chelios had eight goals, a freshman best. The previous year, Derek Grant had 12 in his first varsity season.
On the year, Berry is the top-scoring first-year player, with a 10-7-17 scoring line, good for seventh place among freshmen in the CCHA.
ophomore Will Yanakeff has started five of the last six Spartan games. On the season, Yanakeff is fourth in the CCHA in win percentage (11-6-1, 63.9%), fourth in save percentage (.926), and eighth in goals against average (2.38).
Drew Palmisano's Oct. 20 shutout of Ohio State was his second straight over the Buckeyes. Alex Szczechura's second-period goal in the second game of the series snapped Palmisano's personal shutout streak of 145:01 against Ohio State, dating back to last season. Palmisano owns four career shutouts: the two of OSU, one of Nebraska-Omaha, and one of Michigan.
Freshman Matt Berry has delivered the shootout-winning goal in both of MSU's two shootout victories this season.
Berry's two shootout goals is tied with Brett Perlini and Greg Wolfe for fourth at MSU all-time; Andrew Rowe leads the list with four, while Matt Schepke and Kurt Kivisto each scored three shootout goals.
MSU lost the shootout, 2-1, to Lake Superior on Jan. 21, its first shootout loss in three tries this season. It had been over a calendar year since MSU last lost a shootout - MSU's last loss had come on Jan. 15, 2011, at Lake Superior after a 2-2 tie. Will Yanakeff was in net for both of those games.
Jan. 13 was MSU's second shootout of the season, against Northern Michigan. Drew Palmisano stopped the second and third NMU shootout attempts, and got a little help from his crossbar on the first. He's made saves on five of the six shootout attempts he has faced this season. Palmisano made three shootout saves against Michigan on Dec. 10.
In Palmisano's four years, he has been in nine shootouts, with a 4-5 record. He has made saves on 18 of 31 attempts against, with 11 goals allowed. As a senior, he is 2-0 with five saves and zero goals allowed.
Torey Krug and Brett Shelgren, who have been MSU's top defensive pair in 31 of 32 games, have a combined 151 of MSU's 469 blocked shots this season, ranking first and second individually (Krug has 58, Shelgren 93). Tim Buttery has 55 blocks, and Matt Crandell 43.
Shelgren's 93 blocks leads all CCHA players. Alaska's Aaron Gens has 86, and LSSU's Matt Brueteau has 70 to round out the individual top shot-blockers in the conference.
Will Yanakeff's 45 saves against Lake Superior on Jan. 20 was a career-best performance for the sophomore. His previous high was 40, which came earlier in the season against Miami. On Feb. 3, he had a 41-save performance against Ohio State.
Drew Palmisano also has three 40+-save games this season. He had 45 in each game of the GLI in addition to 40 in a 4-3 win over Minnesota on Nov. 25. His career best is 46 stops, against Michigan on Jan. 29 of his freshman season.
Head Coach Tom Anastos has been asked throughout the season whether he will pick one of the team's goaltenders as his primary starter, or employ a platoon; he has maintained that he does not have a strict philosophy, and that the play of the goalies during the week and the previous games will determine who gets the start.
Drew Palmisano opened the season with 30 saves against the aggressive, talented Boston College offense, and has had three games this year with 40+ saves. Palmisano has played 14 of MSU's 30 games, and owns a 5-6-3 record, 2.77 GAA and .914 save percentage.
Will Yanakeff has played eight of the last nine games. In 18 games this season, he owns a 2.238 GAA and .926 save percentage, and a 11-6-1 mark on the season.
Both Torey Krug and Chris Forfar played in their 100th career games on Jan. 20 against Lake Superior. Dean Chelios is expected to play in his 100th career game on Saturday against the Nanooks, and Anthony Hayes, with 94 games to his credit, could reach that mark during the CCHA Playoffs.
Brett Perlini played in his 100th career game on Dec. 3 against Bowling Green. He is the fourth player this season to reach the milestone: Trevor Nill skated in his 100th career game on Nov. 18, Tim Buttery played in his 100th career game against Ohio State on Oct. 20, Brock Shelgren did it in the season opener vs. Boston College; Daultan Leveille and Matt Crandell registered their 100th last season.
Brett Perlini, Torey Krug and Greg Wolfe each have points in 18 games this season, a team high. Lee Reimer and Matt Berry (15 games) are right behind.
Lee Reimer and Torey Krug lead the squad in multiple-point games, each with seven; Brett Perlini has six, and Greg Wolfe has five.
Torey Krug owns the team's longest point-scoring streak, at five games; its the longest point-scoring streak for anyone this season, as Lee Reimer, Brent Darnell, and Matt Berry have also strung together five-game point streaks earlier in the season.
Since the 1980-81 season, all but one Spartan starting goaltender has earned all-league honors at one point in their career. (The Spartans have competed in both the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Central Collegiate Hockey Association during this stretch).
The list reads like a who's who in Spartan hockey - Ron Scott, Bob Essensa, Norm Foster, Jason Muzzatti, Mike Gilmore, Mike Buzak, Chad Alban, Joe Blackburn, Ryan Miller, Dominic Vicari and Jeff Lerg. Scott, Alban, Blackburn, Miller and Lerg were All-Americans.
The only starting goalie who didn't make an all-star team or win an award during this stretch was Matt Migliaccio in 2002-03. Drew Palmisano kept the streak alive with his Second Team All-CCHA honor in 2009-10.
Freshman Tanner Sorenson is a rare species in college hockey - the player who enters college directly after playing for his high school team. Sorenson played for Shattuck St. Mary's, winning a 18-U Tier I National Championship in 2011. Since the 1991-92 season, Sorenson is just the third MSU player to skate for his high school team in the season before enrolling at MSU - Brian Clifford (1991-95) and Chris Mueller (2004-08) both played for the Nichols School in their hometown of Buffalo. Both Clifford and Mueller also played a split season, playing for both their high school and the local AAA team during their senior years. Sorenson played solely for Shattuck last year.
Olympia Entertainment in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan announced in November that the agreement which ensures a Spartans-Wolverines game is held annually at Joe Louis Arena has been extended through the 2013-14 hockey season.
The archrivals have squared off in regular season action at JLA in at least once per year since 1990, with Michigan having earned ten victories to Michigan State's nine over that time; four of the games ended in a tie.
Tom Anastos has announced that three players signed National Letters of Intent in the fall signing period and will join the Spartans in the fall of 2012. Forward Ryan Keller (Farmington Hills, Mich./Sioux Falls (USHL), Defenseman John Draeger (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary's) and goaltender Jake Hildebrand (Butler, PA/Cedar Rapids (USHL) will join three previous signees - forward Matt DeBlouw (Chesterfield, Mich./Muskegon USHL) and defensemen Rhett Holland (Calgary, Alberta / Okotoks (AJHL) and Travis Walsh (Lansing, Mich./Muskegon (USHL) on the Spartan roster for next season.
DeBlouw (37), Draeger (71) and Holland (192) all appear on the NHL Central Scouting Mid-Term rankings.
MSU had 11 former skaters on 2011 opening-night rosters in the National Hockey League, and 15 players have played at least one game in the NHL this season: Ryan Miller and Corey Tropp (Buffalo), Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader (Detroit), Tim Kennedy and Mike Weaver (Florida). Jim Slater (Winnipeg), Shawn Horcoff, Jeff Petry and Corey Potter (Edmonton), David Booth (Vancouver), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Adam Hall (Tampa), Chris Mueller (Nashville) and John-Michael Liles (Toronto).
The Spartans host their final CCHA regular-season series with a pair of games against Alaska. The Saturday tilt will be a part of the Hockey Day in Michigan celebration, and will also be a celebration of the nine Spartan seniors playing their final regular-season games at Munn Ice Arena.