Final Regular-Season CCHA Series at Munn for Spartans
Feb. 28, 2013
MSU hosts Western Michigan in the final weekend of the regular season. MSU owns a 63-29-9 all-time record against the Broncos, which includes a 33-5-6 record in games played in East Lansing.
Western Michigan has not played at Munn Ice Arena sine Oct. 30, 2009 as part of a home-and-home series between the teams. MSU is 3-2-1 of the last six meetings, five of which were played at Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo. The Spartans have won three straight home games in the series, and are 7-2-3 over the last 11 games against WMU.
The two teams met in the semifinals of the 2012 Great Lakes Invitational, and skated to a 1-1 tie. Mike Cichy scored at the midpoint of the first period to give WMU an early lead, an advantage which the Broncos held for nearly 50 minutes before Matt Berry forced overtime by scoring with 16 seconds remaining in regulation. Officially, the game went into the record books as a tie, as neither team found the back of the net in the extra period. The squads went to a shootout to determine which team would advance to the finals, and Mike Leone got the shootout-winning goal for WMU in the fourth round.
MSU swept the Broncos, 3-2 and 4-2, in last year's series at Lawson.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
MSU is coming off a split on the road at Alaska. The Spartans gutted out a 1-0 Friday win, then suffered a tough 4-2 loss on Saturday. Trailing 2-1 entering the final three minutes, MSU got the equalizer from Brent Darnell, but a late man advantage for Alaska allowed Andy Taranto a second goal on the night with 63 seconds remaining in regulation.
Michigan State's Friday win over the Nanooks gave MSU its first back-to-back victories this season. MSU, which defeated Northern Michigan the previous Saturday by a 4-2 score, now 1-6-3 in games after a win.
At Alaska, MSU earned its first victory in game one of a CCHA series this season, and just its third victory on a Friday night during this 2012-13 campaign.
Munn Arena hosted a sellout crowd of 6,574 fans on Saturday Feb. 16 vs. NMU, the fourth sellout of the year. The Spartans are a perfect 4-0 in games which feature a sellout crowd at home this season.
Nine of MSU's last 11 home games have featured crowds of 6,000+ - the building seats 6,470 spectators. The Spartans average 5,837 over 15 home games, which ranks eighth nationally in attendance and first in the CCHA. Those put Munn at better than 90% capacity on average.
MSU's nine near-or-over capacity crowds is the most games of 6,000+ fans since the 2003-04 season, which featured 20. That year, every regular-season home game was a sellout.
MSU's loss on Friday, Feb. 15 was the 20th of the season for MSU. The Spartans have lost 20 or more games in a season on six previous occasions: 1976-77 (21), 1977-78 (27), 1978-79 (21) under Amo Bessone; 1979-80 (24) and 1980-81 (22) under Ron Mason; and in 2008-09 (23) under Rick Comley.
MSU is now to 10-1-1 when scoring three or more goals this season, and is 1-20-2 when scoring two or fewer. On 14 occasions, the Spartans have scored one goal or less. MSU's only loss when scoring three goals or more came on Feb 15 against NMU, a 5-3 loss. MSU captured a victory in a 1-0 win over Alaska on Feb. 22.
Michigan State improved to 18-12 all-time in games which ended in a 1-0 score, with four of those games occurring in this season. MSU has been on the wrong end of three of those four decisions in 2012-13, suffering 1-0 losses to Bowling Green, Ohio State, and Notre Dame.
MSU is 2-9-0 in one-goal games this year. Three of the Spartans' last four games featured two-goal margins with empty-net tallies.
MSU's 2.12 goals per game this season ranks 11th in the CCHA, and 55th of 59 teams nationally. The Spartans have played a majority of their games on the road this season (19 of 34), and are 3-14-2 in games away from Munn Ice Arena.
MSU is 0-0-3 this season in overtime games. MSU won the non-conference shootout against Niagara in November, 4 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.
Michigan State has played 17 of its 34 games against seven teams which are among the nation's top 17 in team defense: Miami (1.56 goals per game), Western Michigan (1.94 gpg) , Minnesota (2.00 gpg), Notre Dame (2.26), Niagara (2.31 gpg), Ferris State (2.38 gpg), and Ohio State (2.41 gpg) .
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 nine 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, this weekend will be the 13th and 14th games this season for MSU against a ranked opponent.
The Jan. 26 loss to Penn State snapped an 11-game non-conference unbeaten streak for the Spartans at Munn Ice Arena. MSU's last loss to a non-conference foe at home was on Nov. 28, 2009 - a 2-1 loss to Minnesota in the College Hockey Showcase.
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.
MSU 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.
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 29-37-7 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 3-4-1 in the white script jerseys this season, and is 0-2-0 in the script road greens.
In this 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.
The Spartan penalty kill was a perfect 4-for-4 on Friday, but was just 2-for-5 on Saturday - all but one Alaska goal on the weekend (an empty-net tally) came with a man advantage. The kill is 109/131 (83.2%) on the season, good for eighth in the CCHA and 23rd nationally.
MSU was a combined 0-for-8 on the power play vs. the Nanooks, who do, incidently, boast the CCHA's top penalty kill (89.9%, good for fourth in the country. MSU had seven man-advantage chances in Saturday's loss; MSU's lone power play on Friday lasted just 11 seconds.
Michigan State ranks ninth in penalty minutes in the CCHA, averaging 12.3 PIM per game.
MSU is 7-4-1 when scoring a power play goal, but 3-17-2 when failing to score with a man advantage.
TRENDS, STREAKS, AND TENDENCIES
Will Yanakeff made back-to-back starts for the first time since November, and earned a split in the CCHA series at Alaska. He stopped 76 of 79 shots against, and the only goals he allowed were power-play markers.
The Spartans have scored 17 goals in Jake Hildebrand's 14 losses (1.21 gpg). MSU has scored 25 goals in his six wins (4.16 gpg).
Greg Wolfe saw his team-best active scoring streak come to a halt at five games (5-1-6) and goal-scoring streak (four games). Wolfe tied Matt Berry, who previously owned the team's longest point-scoring streak of the season, five games (Dec. 7-Dec. 30). He also had a season-best four straight games with a goal from Dec. 8-Dec. 30.
MSU is 1-10-1 in the first game of a two-game CCHA series this season, but is 6-6-0 in the second game.
MSU has scored first in seven of its last 10 games, but has allowed its opponent to score first in 20 of its 34 games this season; MSU is 8-5-0 when scoring first and 2-16-3 when allowing the first goal.
MSU is 1-20-2 when scoring two goals or fewer this season. The Spartans are 9-1-1 when scoring three or more.
Eleven skaters have appeared in all 34 games, and each of them have at least two points. Five of those eleven are defensemen.
Nine different players have each had at least two multiple-point games each this season: John Draeger, RJ Boyd, Chris Forfar, Tanner Sorenson, Matt DeBlouw, Brent Darnell, Matt Berry, Lee Reimer, and Greg Wolfe. Berry leads the team with five, Darnell, Reimer, Wolfe, and Sorenson each have four.
MSU has been shut out a school-record five times this season, and three of those games were a 1-0 score. MSU was also shut out five times in 2008-09 and 2010-11.
On four occasions, the Spartans have allowed just one goal - but are 1-2-1 in those games.
Senior forward Dean Chelios (upper body) and freshman defenseman Rhett Holland (upper body) each had season-ending surgery in November will miss the 2012-13 season. Both plan to apply for a medical redshirt.
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.
MSU will hold its annual Senior Night ceremony on Saturday night prior to the game with WMU. Fans have been asked to be in their seats by 6:45 p.m. to honor the Spartan seniors - Kevin Walrod, Matt Grassi, Chris Forfar, and Anthony Hayes. In addition, classmate Zach Golembiewski, who was forced to retire at the start of the 2011-12 season due to a medical condition, will also be honored in that ceremony.
Will Yanakeff made back-to-back starts for the first time since Nov. 3 (BG) and Nov. 9 (Michigan). He stopped 76 of the 79 shots he faced on the weekend, and got his first shutout of the season on Friday, making 37 saves in a 1-0 shutout of the Nanooks. On Saturday, he made a season high 39 stops in a tough 4--2 loss. He earned CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors.
Greg Wolfe has eight points (5-3-8) over his last eight games, and 11 points over his last 13 contests. He scored the lone goal in Friday's shutout victory, but was held off the board to end his scoring streak on Saturday.
Matt Berry had the primary assist on Wolfe's Friday score, and opened the scoring for MSU on Saturday. He has four points in his last four games after a six-game streak without a point.
Brent Darnell has surpassed his freshman-year total of 13 points (5g, 8a), and he is tied for the second spot with Greg Wolfe on the team's scoring chart (9-9-18). Wolfe has a 8-10-18 line. Darnell nearly forced overtime last Saturday against Alaska, scoring an equalizing tally with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. Alaska got the game-winner with 63 seconds left on the clock.
Jake Hildebrand has made 27+ saves 17 times in 22 starts with 27+ saves. He faced only eight shots through the first two periods on Feb. 16 against Northern Michigan, and finished with 18, his season low. His previous low was 21 against Ohio State on Dec. 1.
Hildebrand has allowed two goals or fewer in 15 of 22 starts. He owns a 2.21 GAA and .934 save percentage; he ranks fourth in the CCHA and 13th nationally in save percentage.
Hildebrand has allowed 23 goals over his last seven starts, compared to 27 in his first 14. He has allowed more than two goals in just eight of his 22 starts this season, but has allowed three or more in five of his last seven games.
Travis Walsh has blocked 26 shots over his last eight games, and ranks second on the team and tied for eighth in the country with 64. John Draeger ranks fourth with 71 blocks, 11 off the national lead.
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