Friday (2/27): Lake Superior
TV: FOX Sports Net
Saturday (2/28): Ferris State
TV: MediaOne 6 or 17, TCI 13, Horizon 11
Site: Munn Ice Arena
Times: 7 p.m.
Radio: WVFN-AM 730
Michigan State overtook Michigan for first place in the CCHA thanks to a sweep of the Wolverines, 5-1 and 4-1, this weekend. The Spartans (26-4-5 overall, 18-4-4 CCHA) hold a one-point edge over Michigan in the league standings with four games to play and are ranked No. 2 in the nation. Lake Superior (15-13-4, 12-11-4) brings a three-game winning streak into Friday's game at Munn Ice Arena (7 p.m., FOX Sports Net, WVFN-AM 730). Saturday Ferris State (14-16-3, 11-12-3) comes to Munn as the Spartans honor their five seniors (7 p.m., MediaOne 6 or 17, TCI 13, Horizon 11, WVFN-AM 730).
Head coach Ron Mason (St. Lawrence 64), who celebrated his 800th win Friday night as the MSU students stormed the ice, 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 801 career victories. His records stand at 801-347-63 overall and 512-237-49 at Michigan State.
Lake Superior head coach Scott Borek (Dartmouth 85) is 34-27-9 in two years at LSSU and 67-60-14 in four years as a college coach, including three years with the White Mules of Colby College.
Ferris State's Bob Daniels (Michigan State 82) is 85-120-18 in five years as a head coach, all at FSU.
Lake Superior stands in sixth place in the CCHA but is just three points out of third. The Lakers have won three in a row, including a 2-1 overtime win over Notre Dame Saturday. Terry Marchant (17-22-39) is LSSU's top forward, while Jason Sessa (16-11-27) and Joe Blaznek (12-10-22) provide support. The Lakers penalty-killing (91.3%) leads the league and has scored 12 SHGs.
Ferris State is 6-4 in its last 10, having beaten Miami (4-3) and Bowling Green (3-0) last weekend. Joel Irwin (15-17-32) and Bret Colborne (6-26-32) share the team lead in scoring, while Vince Owen (11-13-3, 3.24, .876) has played most of the minutes in goal.
The Series vs. the Lakers
MSU leads, 38-27-8, and 20-11-2 in East Lansing. MSU is 3-1-2 in the last six and has won six of the last eight at Munn.
The Series vs. the Bulldogs
MSU leads, 42-21-10, and 24-11-4 in East Lansing. The Spartans have outscored Ferris, 13-1, in two wins this season. MSU is 11-1-2 in the last 14 meetings and has not lost a regular-season meeting since Feb. 25, 1994.
Last weekend's recap
In the most highly-anticipated weekend series in the CCHA this year, Michigan State's seniors led the team to a pair of solid victories, 5-1 at Munn Friday and 4-1 at Joe Louis Saturday.
Senior goaltender Chad Alban stopped 42 of 44 shots and did not allow a goal either night until MSU had built a 3-0 lead.
Senior center Sean Berens had four goals and two assists, including the game-winning goal each night, en route to CCHA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Senior defenseman Tyler Harlton matched up against Michigans Bill Muckalt both nights and held the Hobey Baker candidate to just one assist.
Quoting Coach Mason
On last weekend's series:
It was a great weekend. Our team was focused and worked at playing our game. We have proven this year that when we play our game, we are a very good team.
On his 800th career win:
It's a number, that's all. What was important this weekend was first place, but it does give you a chance to reflect. The reaction from the fans was the most special thing. I have never seen anything like that. It was touching.
We are in first place, but I think we will have to win our next four games to win the league. We've got a tough road ahead, too, and maybe that's good. That should help our players stay focused on their game.
Michigan State is 7-0-2 against ranked opponents this season, including last weekend's sweep of Michigan. 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 .951 save percentage and three shutouts. Seniors Sean Berens (9-3-12) and Tyler Harlton (0-5-5, +11) have also been impressive in MSUs nine games against ranked opponents.
Did You Know?
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 among the top five in the nation. Lately, the special teams have been at their best. MSU has scored two or more power-play goals in each of its last four games and has converted on 41.4% of its power plays in the last 15 games. Meanwhile, the Spartans have killed off 39 of their last 40 short-handed situations in their last 12 games.
Builder of leads
Senior goaltender Chad Alban has a .946 save percentage in the first period, helping MSU outscore opponents, 42-12, in the opening stanza.
Protector of leads
In his three years as MSU's primary starting goaltender, Alban has a 53-0-3 record when leading after two periods, including 19-0-2 this season.
Looking for a league title
Michigan State is in first place in the CCHA by one point with four games remaining. The Spartans last CCHA title came in 1989-90.
Senior center Sean Berens leads Michigan State in shooting percentage at 22.6% after scoring on just 13.0% of his shots the past two years.
Senior goaltender Chad Alban has 81 career wins, within two victories of Jason Muzzatti's Michigan State record of 83. Alban is also tied for fourth in single-season victories at MSU with 24.
Saluting the seniors
Seniors Chad Alban, Sean Berens, Jon Gaskins, Tyler Harlton and Kevin OKeefe will be honored Saturday in MSU's annual Senior Night celebration. The group has led the Spartans to the NCAA tournament in each of their three years and a combined record of 102-42-13 (.691), including this years 26-4-5 mark. Michigan State is 5-1 in the last six Senior Nights.
How's this for balance?
MSU's scoring by periods: 42-42-41--125.
Against the archrivals
With its sweep last weekend, the Spartans improved to 4-0-0 this year against Michigan. It marks the first time the Wolverines have been swept in a CCHA series since MSU swept them in 1988-89 and the first time MSU has beaten U-M four straight times since taking six in a row from Dec. 9, 1988 to Dec. 10, 1989.
Against the archrivals II
Michigan State won its 100th game against Michigan Saturday night. Michigan leads the series, 118-100-6.
Shawn Horcoff (So., C, out, fractured right thumb); Jon Gaskins (Sr., LW, out 3-4 weeks, sprained right knee).
Did You Know?
Center of attention Michigan States 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 42.4% of Michigan States goals and 28.8% of the teams points.
Joe Louis Arena earned the nickname Munn East in the 1980's and is on its way to regaining that monicker. The Spartans have won six of their last seven at JLA.
Michigan outshot MSU, 22-19, Saturday night, the first time the Spartans were outshot in 11 games. MSU is 5-1-1 when being outshot.
Shooting stars II
Michigan State is outshooting opponents by an average of 31.3-20.9. The Spartans have held their opponents to 23 shots or fewer in 26 of their 35 games and fired at least 30 shots on goal themselves 20 times.
Michigan State has held its opponent to two goals or fewer in 29 of its 35 games. Its 1.57 goals against per game is 0.70 better than the best average in school history (2.27, 1984-85). The Spartans have not allowed more than two goals in the last five games.
Sean Berens netted his 30th goal of the year Saturday, just the 26th 30-goal season in MSU hockey history. He had his third hat trick in 12 games Friday night and has 21 goals in his last 15 games. Berens scored his first goal Friday batting the puck out of the air with a baseball type swing, an athletic play featured on ESPN SportsCenters Plays of the Week. The Palatine, Ill., native and Cubs fan dedicated the goal to Harry Caray.
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 7-0-2 at home and 3-2-1 away from Munn Ice Arena.
Deciding the season series Michigan State has clinched all eight season series with CCHA teams which have already been decided.
In the clutch, get the sensation
Eighteen of junior center Mike Yorks 23 goals have come when Michigan State is trailing, the game is tied, or MSU has a one-goal lead.
Players of the Week
For the second week in a row, this week's CCHA Players of the Week meet on the ice this weekend. Michigan State's Sean Berens (offensive) and Lake Superior's Jayme Platt (defensive) were honored by the league.
Michigan State has scored seven goals against Ferris State four times in the last five meetings.
Fit to be ...
Michigan State has tied Ferris State 10 times in the series history, more than any other school.
Friday afternoon at the MSU Blue Line Club luncheon, senior defenseman Tyler Harlton will be honored as one of the five finalists for the Hockey Humanitarian Award by John Greenhalgh, one of the award directors.
Chad climbs the charts
Chad Albans career goals-against average (2.51) is the best in MSU history. Where Alban stands at MSU all-time in other career 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 (124) 2. CHAD ALBAN (81) 3. Ron Scott (2,884) 3. Rick Duffett (.898) 3. Mike Buzak (115) 3. Norm Foster (76) 4. Mike Buzak (2,836) 4. Ron Scott (.897) 5. CHAD ALBAN (2,552) 5. CHAD ALBAN (.895)
Senior goaltender Chad Alban is having one of the best seasons ever by a college goaltender. How Albans 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 CHAD ALBAN (1997-98) 32 24- 3-5 .828 1926:59 49 1.53 615 .926 6 R. Stauber, Minn. (1987-88) 44 34-10-0 .773 2621 119 2.72 1243 .913 5