Spartan Hockey Sweeps

"Home-and-Joe" showdown against archrival Michigan next.

Feb. 16, 1998

Dates: Feb. 20-21
Sites: Munn Ice Arena; Joe Louis Arena
Times: 7 p.m.

The Week -- Michigan State swept a pair of home games against Western Michigan (4-2) and Ohio State (4-1), setting the table for the most anticipated weekend series of the year. The Spartans (24-4-5 overall, 16-4-4 CCHA) stand second in the CCHA, three points behind Michigan (25-6-1, 19-4-1) entering a pair of games between the two rivals this weekend. MSU was ranked third in the nation last week but could move up following a loss by No. 2 Boston University. Michigan, meanwhile, was No. 5 last week and is coming off wins over Miami (3-1) and Northern Michigan (4-2). Friday's game (7 p.m., FOX Sports Net, WVFN-AM 730) is at Munn Ice Arena (6,170), while the two teams meet against Saturday at Joe Louis Arena (19,983, 7 p.m., FOX Sports Detroit, WVFN-AM 730, WJR-AM 760). Adding to the interest surrounding the series is MSU head coach Ron Mason's pursuit of his 800th career victory.

The Coaches --
Head coach Ron Mason (St. Lawrence '64) is in his 19th year at Michigan State and his 32nd as a head coach in college hockey. He is the all-time winningest college hockey coach with 799 career victories and looks to become the first coach to reach the 800-victory plateau this weekend. His records stand at 799-347-63 overall and 510-237-49 at Michigan State.

Michigan's Red Berenson (Michigan '62) has spent all 14 years of his college coaching career at his alma mater, compiling a 360-181-30 record. Berenson played his final collegiate game against Mason, when Michigan defeated St. Lawrence, 5-1, in the consolation game of the 1962 NCAA tournament.

The Wolverines -- Michigan enters this weekend on a five-game winning streak and has a three-point lead over MSU in the league race. Seniors Bill Muckalt (28-25-53) and Marty Turco (24-6-1, 2.17, .909) are the unquestioned team leaders, but they have received strong support from players like Bobby Hayes (18-19-37), Mark Kosick (10-27-37) and Josh Langfeld (15-14-29). Muckalt leads the CCHA in overall scoring (second in league games), while Turco trails only MSU's Chad Alban in league and overall GAA.

The Series vs. the Wolverines -- The two teams have met 222 times, with Michigan leading, 118-98-6, in one of college hockey's greatest rivalries. MSU leads in East Lansing, 50-42-4, but trails in Detroit, 7-15-1. The Spartans have already beaten UM twice this year (4-2 on Oct. 25 and 5-3 Dec. 28 in the GLI title game). The Spartans have not won three in a row vs. Michigan since claiming six straight from Dec. 9, 1988, to Dec. 10, 1989, and last beat Michigan three times in one season in 1989-90.

Last weekend's recap -- Michigan State used a 5-for-11 effort on the power play (45.5%) to sweep Western Michigan and Ohio State.

The Spartans struggled early against WMU, but Chad Alban made 11 first-period saves and MSU scored the final three goals of the game to erase a 2-1 second-period deficit. Sean Berens had his 24th and 25th goals of the year, while Rustyn Dolyny had a goal and three assists.

Dolyny was hot again Saturday, scoring the Spartans' first two goals on the power play to give MSU a 2-1 lead. Berens and Brad Hodgins added third period goals to secure the 4-1 victory.

Summit meetings -- Michigan State and Michigan first met in 1922 and have played home-and-home series as far back as 1927. They play a "home-and-Joe" series this weekend at Munn Ice Arena and Joe Louis Arena. It marks the first time the teams have met on back-to-back nights since Jan. 21-22, 1994.

Did You Know?

Big-game Alban -- Michigan State is 5-0-2 against ranked opponents this season. A big reason is the play of senior goaltender and Hobey Baker candidate Chad Alban, who has earned the decision in each of those games while recording a 0.98 goals-against average, a .950 save percentage and three shutouts.

A special team -- A big part of Michigan State's success this year has been its special teams, with both the power play and short-handed units ranking second in the CCHA in overall games. Lately, the special teams have been at their best. MSU has now scored at least one power-play goal in 11 of its last 13 games, with a success rate of 34.4% in that time (21-for-61). Meanwhile, the Spartans have killed off 34 consecutive short-handed situations and have not allowed a power-play goal in their last 10 games.

Approaching 800 -- Head coach Ron Mason's next victory will make him the first college hockey coach in history to win 800 games. He currently owns a career record of 799-347-63. Some notes on the milestone:

* Mason has defeated 78 different teams on his way to 799 wins. He has the most wins vs. Ohio State (77). Among the 21 teams Mason has defeated once is Michigan State, which he beat while at Bowling Green in 1974-75.

* Mason has 46 wins vs. Michigan, tied for seventh among the schools he was won against most often.

* Dec. 6 Mason became just the fifth Division I coach to win 500 games at one school.

Great name, great game -- Freshman right wing Rustyn Dolyny leads all CCHA rookies in league scoring (14-15-29). He is third on the MSU team with 15-19-34 overall and has 4-6-10 in his last five games.

Center of attention -- Michigan State's dynamic 1-2 punch at center, senior Sean Berens and junior Mike York, are both among the top 10 goal scorers in the NCAA. The pair has combined for 40.5% of Michigan State's goals and 27.8% of the team's points.

Tale of two seasons -- Through the GLI, Michigan State was 6-2-2 at home and 10-0-0 on the road. Since the GLI, the Spartans are 6-0-2 at home and 2-2-1 away from Munn Ice Arena.

Start me up -- Michigan State has outscored opponents 38-12 in the first period and scored first in 23 of 33 games.The Spartans are 20-1-2 when they score first.

Big games for the big guns -- Michigan State's top three scorers, Mike York, Sean Berens and Rustyn Dolyny, combined for six goals and 10 assists in the two games last weekend, or 16 of MSU's 24 points.

INJURY REPORT -- Bryan Adams (Jr., LW, probable for this weekend, separated right shoulder, injured Feb. 6); Shawn Horcoff (So., C, out, fractured right thumb).

Did You Know?

More on the PP -- Michigan State started the season 1-for-29 on the power play. Since then, the Spartans are 36-for-141 (25.5%). Other PP tidbits:

* Sean Berens (first with 11) and Mike York (fourth with nine) rank among the nation's leaders in power-play goals. They have combined for 20 of MSU's 37 PPGs.

* MSU's first power-play unit of Berens, York, Rustyn Dolyny, Jeff Kozakowski and Brad Hodgins has accounted for each of MSU's last 20 power-play goals.

* Nine times in their last 12 games, Michigan State's first goal has come on the power play.

* MSU is 2-for-9 on the power play vs. Michigan this year; Michigan is 0-for-9 vs. MSU.

In the clutch, get the sensation -- Seventeen of junior center Mike York's 21 goals have come when Michigan State is trailing, the game is tied, or MSU has a one-goal lead.

Super Sean -- Sean Berens netted his 24th, 25th and 26th goals of the year this weekend, the most by a Spartan since Anson Carter had 34 in 1994-95.

Deciding the season series -- This weekend's games should decide the Spartans' CCHA season series against Michigan (MSU leads, 1-0-0; the GLI does not apply). Michigan State has clinched all seven season series with CCHA teams which have already been decided.

Crowded -- Michigan State has played in front of 24 sellout crowds (in 33 games), including each of the last 11 contests. Friday's game is certain to be a standing-room-only affair, while Saturday's game at Joe Louis Arena is expected to sellout. Last year's regular-season meeting between these two teams at Joe Louis Arena attracted 19,983, the most ever to see a Michigan-Michigan State hockey game.

Players of the Week -- This week's CCHA Players of the Week meet on the ice this weekend, as Michigan State's Rustyn Dolyny (offensive) and Michigan's Marty Turco (defensive) were honored by the league. Dolyny had a hand in six of MSU's eight goals last weekend (three goals, three assists).

Rivalry renewed -- Michigan State has handed Michigan two of its six losses this season.The Spartans have not beaten the Wolverines three times in a season since taking four of six meetings in 1989-90.

Chad climbs the charts -- Chad Alban's career goals-against average (2.54) is the best in MSU history. Where Alban stands at MSU all-time in other career goaltending categories:

    SAVES                       SAVE PERCENTAGE         GAMES PLAYED            WINS    
    1. Dave Versical (3,108)    1. Gaye Cooley (.899)   1. Jason Muzzatti (130) 1. Jason Muzzatti (83)
    2. Jason Muzzatti (2,928)   2. Mike Buzak (.898)    2. CHAD ALBAN (122)     2. CHAD ALBAN (79)
    3. Ron Scott (2,884)           Rick Duffett (.898)  3. Mike Buzak (115)     3. Norm Foster (76)
    4. Mike Buzak (2,836)       4. Ron Scott (.897)     
    5. CHAD ALBAN (2,510)       5. CHAD ALBAN (.895)

Comparing Chad -- Senior goaltender Chad Alban, who has a 1.20 GAA and a .946 save percentage in his last 10 starts, is having one of the best seasons ever by a college goaltender. How Alban's 1997-98 numbers stack up against the only goaltender ever to win the Hobey Baker Award, Minnesota's Robb Stauber (1987-88):

                                GP  W-L-T   WIN %   MIN     GA  GAA     SV      SV%     SO      
Robb Stauber, Minn. (1987-88)   44  34-10-0 .773    2621    119 2.72    1243    .913    5
CHAD ALBAN (1997-98)            30  22-3-5  .817    1806:59 47  1.56     573    .924    6

The Last Times They Met
Oct. 25, 1997 -- Michigan State scored twice on the power play and never trailed in a 4-2 victory over the Wolverines in Ann Arbor. The Spartans outshot their hosts, 9-3, in the first period but led only 1-0 on a Mike York goal. Bobby Hayes tied the score in the second, but three straight MSU goals by Shawn Horcoff, Sean Berens and Rustyn Dolyny delivered the MSU win. The Spartan defense, led by Tyler Harlton and Chad Alban, held Bill Muckalt without a point. Alban made 18 saves, while Marty Turco stopped 15 shots.

Dec. 28, 1997 -- The Spartans ended Michigan's nine-year hold on the Great Lakes Invitational with a 5-3 victory at Joe Louis Arena. While MSU's big guns provided the offense in October, some unusual names were the stars of this meeting. Curtis Gemmel and Andrew Bogle had their first goals of the year, while Mike Weaver had two goals and two assists to capture GLI MVP honors. Chad Alban made 19 saves, while Marty Turco made 23.

1997-98 Multi-Point Games (64)
Mike York (13; MR: 2/14 vs. OSU)
Sean Berens (10; MR: 2/14 vs. OSU)
Rustyn Dolyny (10; MR: 2/14 vs. OSU)
Kevin O'Keefe (6; MR: 1/31 vs. MIA)
Bryan Adams (6; MR: 11/15 vs. Mank.)
Shawn Horcoff (5; MR: 1/31 vs. MIA)
Jeff Kozakowski (3; MR: 2/14 vs. OSU)
Andrew Bogle (3; 1/24 vs. LSSU)
Mike Weaver (2; 1/31 vs. MIA)
Chris Bogas (2; MR: 11/22 vs. BG)
Brad Hodgins (1; 1/10 vs. NMU)
Tyler Harlton (1; 12/6 vs. BG)
Damon Whitten (1; 11/22 vs. BG)
John Nail (1; 10/31 vs. ND)

1997-98 Multi-Goal Games (19)
Sean Berens (6; MR: 2/13 vs. WMU)
Mike York (4; MR: 1/17 vs. FSU)
Rustyn Dolyny (3; MR: 2/14 vs. OSU)
Shawn Horcoff (2; 1/31 vs. MIA)
Kevin O'Keefe (2; MR: 10/28 vs. FSU)
Mike Weaver (1; 12/28 vs. Mich.)
Chris Bogas (1; 11/22 vs. BG)

Upcoming Milestones
800 career wins: Ron Mason has 799
75 career goals: Sean Berens has 74
50 career points: Bryan Adams and Jeff Kozakowski have 49

On last weekend: "I liked our effort this weekend. We played a couple of good, solid games. Our power play, and our special teams in general, have made a huge difference lately, especially this weekend."

On the Michigan series: "There will still be a lot of hockey to be played after this series, but if one team sweeps the other, they'll have the advantage, especially if Michigan wins twice.

"It is always exciting when we play each other, and it is going to be a fun weekend. We are looking forward to it."