Post-Season Begins in Alaska
March 5, 2013
MSU heads to Alaska for the first round of the CCHA playoffs. This will be the second meeting of these teams in the first round of the CCHA Tournament in three seasons.
The Spartans lead the all-time series by a 42-16-3 mark, and the Spartans own a 16-10-2 record in games played at the Carlson Center. The two squads split their regular-season series two weeks ago - MSU posted a 1-0 shutout on Friday, but fell 4-2 on Saturday.
MSU swept last season's series at Munn Ice Arena, but Alaska won three of the four games played between the squads in 2010-11, which included a two-game sweep in the CCHA first round that season.
MSU will play on an Olympic ice sheet (200x100) for just the third weekend this season - MSU opened the year at Mariucci Arena, and lost twice to Minnesota prior to earning the CCHA split February 22-23.
CCHA TOURNAMENT NOTES
MSU owns a 6-4 record against Alaska all-time in CCHA postseason games, and a 6-4 record in first round contests.
This is the first time MSU has been the 11 seed in the CCHA Tournament. Its lowest previous seed was 10th - in 2011, when the team also traveled to Alaska.
MSU has lost 10 consecutive CCHA Tournament games, dating back to the 2008 postseason. That year, MSU won the first quarterfinal series game against Northern Michigan, but lost the series in three games, which included a 3-2 loss in overtime in the third and deciding game.
Of MSU's 10 consecutive losses in the CCHA Tournament, three have come in overtime.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
MSU is coming off a split at home with Western Michigan. On Friday, the Broncos exploded for three second-period goals and went on to a 5-2 victory. On Saturday, senior Anthony Hayes scored MSU's lone marker in a 1-0 win over WMU.
Freshman Jake Hildebrand earned his first career shutout on Saturday night, making 28 saves in the 1-0 victory.
The assists on Anthony Hayes' Saturday goal went to his senior linemates Chris Forfar and Kevin Walrod. The trio, in addition to blueliner Matt Grassi and Zach Golembiewski, who was forced to retire after his sophomore season, were honored in a pre-game ceremony.
MSU's senior night photo of the five seniors kissing the Spartan helmet logo at center ice went viral during Saturday's game, and eventually ended up on the 11 p.m. edition of ESPN's Sportscenter.
Munn Arena hosted a sellout crowd of 6,540 fans on Saturday March 2, the fifth sellout of the year. The Spartans are a perfect 5-0 in games which feature a sellout crowd at home this season.
Ten of MSU's last 13 home games featured crowds of 6,000+ - the building seats 6,470 spectators. The Spartans averaged 5,869 fans over 17 home games, which ranks eighth nationally in attendance and first in the CCHA. Munn averaged a 90.7% capacity in 2012-13.
MSU's 10 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 2-21-2 when scoring two or fewer. On 15 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 19-12 all-time in games which ended in a 1-0 score, with five 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 won 1-0 games against Alaska and Western Michigan.
MSU is 3-9-0 in one-goal games this year. Three of the Spartans' last six games featured two-goal margins with empty-net tallies.
MSU's 2.08 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 36), 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 19 of its 36 games against seven teams which are among the nation's top 20 in team defense: Miami (1.61 goals per game), Western Michigan (1.92 gpg) , Minnesota (1.97 gpg), Notre Dame (2.25 gpg), Ferris State (2.38 gpg), Ohio State (2.39 gpg), and Niagara (2.31 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 a total of 14 games against nationally-ranked opponents, 10 of them in Conference play.
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 - were televised during the 2012-13 season. Twenty-four games of the 50-game CCHA regular-season schedule involved the Spartans.
Tom Anastos owns a 30-38-7 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 4-4-1 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 allowed just one power-play goal in nine chances against WMU, a 5-on-3 in Friday's game. The penalty kill is 117/140 (83.6%) on the season, good for seventh in the CCHA and 22nd nationally.
MSU was a combined 2-for-9 on the power play vs. the Broncos, scoring both man-advantage goals on Friday. MSU's power play is at 14.1% (20/142) on the season.
Michigan State ranks ninth in penalty minutes in the CCHA, averaging 12.4 PIM per game.
MSU is 7-5-1 when scoring a power play goal, but 4-17-2 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 had an injury that prevented him from playing in the Western Michigan series.
The Spartans have scored 19 goals in Jake Hildebrand's 15 losses (1.26 gpg). MSU has scored 26 goals in his seven wins (3.71 gpg).
MSU is 1-11-1 in the first game of a two-game CCHA series this season, but is 7-6-0 in the second game. MSU's lone Friday CCHA win came at Alaska on Feb. 22.
MSU has scored first in nine of its last 12 games, but has allowed its opponent to score first in 20 of its 36 games overall this season; MSU is 9-6-0 when scoring first and 2-16-3 when allowing the first goal.
MSU is 2-21-2 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 36 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.
Saturday night's game was preceeded by a Senior Night tribute for the four Spartan players prior to their final home game. In the contest, the lone score came from senior Anthony Hayes, who was voted the game's first star. The assists went to his senior classmates and linemates Chris Forfar and Kevin Walrod.
The freshman defensive duo of John Draeger (78) and Travis Walsh (74) rank fourth and fifth, respectively, in the country in blocked shots. The national leader is Sean Escobedo of Boston University with 87.
Freshman Jake Hildebrand has started 24 of MSU's 36 games, and ranks 20th in the country in saves (740) and 15th in save percentage (.930). Hildebrand recorded his first collegiate shutout on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Western Michigan.
Will Yanakeff made back-to-back starts in the last Alaska series 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 for his play in that series.
Greg Wolfe has eight points (5-3-8) over his last 10 games, and 11 points over his last 15 contests. The series against Western Michigan was the first two-game CCHA series in which Wolfe did not have a point since the Notre Dame series Dec. 7-8.
Matt Berry's three-game point-scoring streak came to a halt on Saturday.
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 19 times in 25 starts. He had a 28-save shutout in his most recent outing vs. WMU. He has allowed two goals or fewer in 16 of 24 starts.
Hildebrand has allowed 28 goals over his last nine starts, compared to 27 in his first 14. He has allowed more than two goals in just nine of his 24 starts this season, but has allowed three or more in six of his last nine games.
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