March 11, 2010
No. 10/11 Michigan State vs. Michigan
Date/Time: Feb. 12-14; 7p.m., East Lansing, Mich.; (Best-of-Three Series).
Audio: WVFN 730 AM /all audio can also be heard at www.spartansportsnetwork.com
Television: Comcast (Digital Ch. 900 in Michigan)
Live Video Webstream: MSU All-Access
Tickets: A limited number of tickets remain for this weekend's series. Purchase Tickets
Live Statistics: http://www.livestats.ath.msu.edu/hockey (also for PDA/Blackberry)
Download MSU Hockey Notes (PDF)
Podcasts: Rick Comley | Torey Krug | Nick Sucharski | Andrew Rowe
Michigan State begins the postseason CCHA Tournament, hosting archrival Michigan in a best-of-three quarterfinal series.
Comcast will carry both Friday and Saturday games (and Sunday's, if necessary) from Munn Ice Arena, all 7:08 starts. Fred Pletsch, Lyle Phair, and Sean Ritchlin will call the action with Rob Otto on rinkside duty. On the radio, all games will air on WVFN AM; the radio call can also be heard on www.spartansportsnetwork.com.
In 25 of MSU's 28 seasons in the CCHA, it has finished fourth or better. MSU has won six regular-season titles, finished second eight times, third eight times, and fourth three times.
Michigan State trails the all-time series with the Wolverines by a 122-138-18 margin. The Spartans own a 61-46-9 mark against their archrival in games played in East Lansing,where the teams face off this weekend.
familiarity breeds contempt
Michigan State-Michigan is the most-played rivalry in college hockey - and up to three games in the all-time series will be added this weekend. The Spartans and Wolverines met for the 278th time back in January to take the all-time lead.
Two other rivalries on this list have series this weekend - North Dakota and Minnesota, and Michigan Tech and Denver all face off in the first round of the WCHA tournament.
278 Michigan State/Michigan
277 North Dakota/Minnesota
275 Denver/Colorado College
251 North Dakota/Denver
250 Boston College/Boston University
249 Minnesota/Colorado College
239 North Dakota/Michigan Tech
219 North Dakota/Colorado College
217 Michigan/Michigan Tech
211 Michigan Tech/Denver
210 Michigan Tech/Minnesota-Duluth
206 Boston College/Northeastern
This is the first time that Michigan and Michigan State will meet in the quarterfinal round since the 1987 postseason. Michigan State swept the Wolverines in both the 1986 and 1987 CCHA quarterfinal series. The Spartans are 4-0 all-time against Michigan in the CCHA quarterfinals, and 7-4 overall in CCHA Tournament play.
The teams last met in the CCHA Tournament in 2007, when Michigan defeated MSU, 5-2, in the semifinals. MSU won the consolation game and went on to claim the National Championship.
not in our house
Michigan has not fared particularly well in its recent trips to East Lansing. Rick Comley-coached Spartan teams are 7-2-3 against the Wolverines at Munn Ice Arena.
In the last 15 years (since the start of the 1995-96 season), MSU is 15-3-4 at Munn Ice Arena against its archrival.
Michigan has won 137 games in this series, but 41 of those wins came between 1922 and 1957. The Spartans recorded only two victories in that span.
There is a five-game discrepancy between MSU and U-M's all-time series records, all in the early 1920's. The MSU records have four more Wolverine victories and one for the Spartans.
The series has been a fairly even one over the last ten seasons. Michigan State holds a slim 20-19-11 lead in games played since the start of the 1999-2000 season. MSU was 3-1 against its archrival this season, and UM swept the five games in which the teams met in 2008-09. Prior to last season, only once in the last decade had one team won three consecutive games (MSU accomplished the feat in February and March of 2001, and the current Spartan squad matched that earlier this season).
All three games played between these two teams in the calendar year of 2005 ended in ties: a 2-2 deadlock on Feb. 4, a 1-1 stalemate on Feb. 5, and a 3-3 sister-kisser on Oct. 22.
Michigan State finished the CCHA season in second place. Its improvement of eight spots in the league standings from a year ago ties the all-time best jump from one year to another in conference history.
Ferris State was ninth in the 2002-03 season, then captured the league title a season later.
Michigan State finished in a tie for 10th last season, but was the 11th seed in the playoffs due to losing the tiebreaker.
better than you expected
Michigan State was picked eighth and ninth in the pre-season polls by the media and coaches, respectively. Michigan State is the CCHA team which this season finished the most spots ahead of their preseason projection.
put your feet up and rest for a week
MSU earned a first-round bye by virtue of finishing in the top four, and has done so in four of the five seasons of the current playoff format. MSU has finished second (2006), fourth (2007), third (2008), and second (2010) in those seasons. Last year, MSU finished the regular season tied for 10th and was the 11th seed in the CCHA Tournament.
The Spartans are the all-time winningest team in CCHA Tournament history, with a 80-26-0 record (.755) in the annual event.
Michigan State has also won the most titles of any school in the league, past or present - the Spartans captured their 11th title in 2006. Michigan ranks second with eight, their most recent in 2008.
home or neutral, but rarely anything else
MSU has played 56 of its 106 all-time CCHA tournament games at Munn Ice Arena, and owns a 50-5 mark all-time in games on their home rink.
Michigan State has played true road games in only two seasons times in their CCHA tournament history, and lost both at Western Michigan in 1991 and at Northern Michigan in 2009.
The Spartans are 31-15 in neutral site CCHA Tournament games.
fun with facts
Of MSU's six home playoff losses, three came as part of best-of-three series, and the Spartans eventually captured series wins in each. MSU lost a home playoff series for the first time in program history in 2008, splitting the first two games with Northern Michigan before falling in the deciding game, 3-2 in overtime.
we like this round
MSU is 37-12 all-time in CCHA quarterfinal games.
we miss ya, Joe
MSU had advanced to play at Joe Louis Arena in the league's championship weekend 16th straight years and 25 times in 26 seasons before failing to make a March appearance in Detroit the last two seasons.
Michigan State is 15-8 in CCHA Tournament games under Rick Comley, and won the 2006 CCHA Tournament title.
Michigan State is 5-3 against non-conference competition this season, sweeping Clarkson, splitting a series at Maine, getting swept in the College Hockey Showcase by Wisconsin and Minnesota, then capturing the GLI with victories over Michigan Tech and Rensselaer.
Rick Comley owns a 38-28-5 record in games against non-conference teams since coming to Michigan State prior to the 2002-03 season. (This includes regular-season, tournament, and NCAA Tournament games) Only once has a Comley team been sub-.500 in games against non-conference foes in a season (2003-04), and is 21-14-4 over the last four years (2005-09.)
This season, MSU was 1-1 against Hockey East, 3-0 against ECACH, and 1-2 against the WCHA.
MSU will take part in honoring its past in its present with the introduction of Honorary Captains. In selected games this season, former MSU players will come back to campus to serve as an Honorary Captain for a game. The Honorary Captain will attend pre-game meal with team, address the Spartan squad prior to the contest, and stand on the bench during the game. This allows the program not only to honor former players, but also to share with current team members what donning the Green and White meant to those who came before them.
Oct. 10 - Dave Kelley (1973-77)
Oct. 17 - Ron Clark (1972-75)
Nov. 6 - Kevin Miller (1984-88)
Nov. 28 - Joe Blackburn (1997-01)
Jan. 8 - Bob Brawley (1964-67)
Jan. 9 - Eldon VanSpybrook (1958, 1960)
Jan. 16 - Paul Hruby (1956-59)
Jan. 23 - Ken Paraskevin (1977-81)
Jan. 29 - Tom Tilley (1984-88)
Feb. 20- Nick Perreault (1990-94)
In 2008-09, Michigan State had a total 14 players miss time with 16 injuries, totaling 221 practices missed and 108 games lost. This year, a total of three players have missed just 33 games, which includes senior Jay Sprague missing the first 24 games of the season with injury. He made his season debut on Feb. 20.
honored among peers
Rick Comley is one of three finalists for CCHA Coach of the Year, as announced by the league office on Thursday, March 11. The other finalists are Rico Blasi (Miami) and Bob Daniels (Ferris State).
Comley captured his 750th career victory on Friday, Oct. 9 with a 6-1 victory over Clarkson. He now owns a 768-594-106 (.564) career overall coaching record, good for fourth place on the all-time wins list.
Former MSU coach and athletic director Ron Mason finished his career behind the bench in 2002 with 924 wins, while Jerry York of Boston College has 843 and Jack Parker of Boston University has 832.
quite the cluster
Michigan State and Michigan are paired with Bowling Green and Notre Dame for the 2009-10 season as clustermates. The schools will face off four times, and play against the remaining eight schools in the conference twice.
MSU finished with the best winning percentage in cluster play (6-3-3, .625), Notre Dame went 3-5-4 (.416), Michigan 7-5-0 (.583), and Bowling Green was 2-7-3 (.292).
heft in the schedule
MSU is 4-1-1 against teams ranked in the top ten this season, and 5-4-2 against ranked teams overall.
speaking of rankings ...
The Spartans are No. 10 in the USCHO poll and 11th in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine survey. MSU has twice this season owned a No. 6 ranking (Nov. 16 and Jan. 11), which is the program's highest ranking since March 10, 2008 when they also held down the No. 6 spot.
The Spartans have spent 17 weeks ranked in the national polls this season.
Michigan State has scored four goals or more only 12 times in its 35 games. The Spartans are averaging 3.1 goals per game.
Only once this season, however, has MSU scored four goals or more and lost - that happened in MSU's tilt against Michigan at Joe Louis Arena (Jan. 30) when the Spartans fell to their archrival, 5-4.
Three seems to be the magic number when related to wins and losses for the Spartans this season. MSU is 16-3-3 when scoring three goals or more in a game. When allowing three goals or less, the Spartans are 15-4-5.
famine and feast
The Spartans average 6.23 goals per weekend set.
The Spartans scored just once in their series at Alaska, its lowest scoring ouput in a weekend this season. MSU was limited to just a pair of goals in its two-game November series with Notre Dame (Nov. 19/22), its previous low.
With 16 goals scored in the GLI, the Spartans scored its most goals in two consecutive games since netting 19 in two games against Ferris State on March 2-3, 1990 (6-4, 13-1).
Michigan State has scored seven goals in eight of its 14 conference weekends this season, including five of the last eight.
Michigan State has scored in the first or final minute of a period 11 times this season, compared to just three times for their opponents (excluding empty-net goals).
In the first or final two minutes of a period, MSU has scored 21 goals (excluding empty-netters), while allowing just 13.
get on the board quick
The Spartans scored a goal in the first two minutes of a period 13 times this season.
critical to get it going first
Michigan State is 15-3- 4 when scoring the first goal, and 4-8-2 when allowing the opponent to do so.
win `em close
26 of MSU's 36 games this season have been settled by two goals or less, and 12 were one-goal affairs. Of the eight that were two-goal margins or more, four involved an empty-net goal.
MSU is 8-4-0 in one-goal games this season
you miss 100% of the shots you don't take
Michigan State has been outshot in 23 of its 36 games thus far, but on the season has been outshot only by a 1059-1014 margin, a total of 45 shots over 36 games. MSU is averaging 28.2 shots per game, and allowing an average of 29.4.
In 2008-09, the Spartans averaged 23.97 shots per game, which ranked last of 58 teams nationally. The Spartans allowed 35.32 per game, which was the second-highest total in the country behind Brown. In shot margin, MSU ranked 57th (-11.34), behind only Brown (-14.85).
scoring drought ... corrected
The Spartans averaged just 1.63 goals per game a year ago, not only the lowest average in Division I hockey, but also a program low for scoring output in a season.
This year MSU has averaged 3.1 goals over 36 games (and allowed an average of 2.4).
only wear a tie at home
MSU has six ties this season, and four have been home games. MSU is 11-3-4 at home, and 6-6-2 on the road. The Spartans are 2-2-0 in neutral-site games.
home sweet conference home
In conference games in 2009-10, MSU lost just once at Munn Arena - on Jan. 23 to Ohio State (4-2).
strong second halves
During the Rick Comley era, the Spartans have traditionally been a second-half team. The first three months (October, November, December) of his eight seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have been a combined 81-71-17 (52.9%), then compiled a 87-45-17 mark in the second half (64.1%).
With MSU's a 14-6-2 first-semester record, it has surpassed the 2007-08 squad for most wins under Comley in the opening semester. That team had the then-best first-half record (12-5-2, 68.4%), and were 13-7-3 in the 2008 portion of the schedule (63%).
This year appears to be a juxtaposition of seasons past in the Comley regime - MSU jumpd out to a 14-6-2 first-half ledger (.681), and its second-semester record is 5-5-4 (.500).
Michgian State's lineup has been fairly consistent thanks to the relative health of the team. The Spartans have employed just 30 different sets of forward lines, with the two top lines playing 31 of the 36 games together.
MSU's defensive pairs have also seen few changes, as Torey Krug and Jeff Petry have played all 36 games together, Crandell and Shelgren for 26, and Josepeher and Grassi (who missed six games early in the season) for 27.
Compare that to the 2007-08 campaign, when the most-utilized line (Tim Kennedy-Justin Abdelkader-Chris Mueller) played together for 19 games, and Kennedy and Abdelkader skated with Tim Crowder for another 16.
Last year's injury issues led to an astounding 80 different line combinations over the course of the season.
Michigan State, along with Alaska and CCHA champion Miami, are the only teams to take points out of each of their conference weekends this season.
MSU is also one of two teams to trip Miami in conference play - Nebraska-Omaha is the only other team to give Miami a conference loss.
Michigan State has played nine overtimes this season with an official record of 2-1-6. In the six ties, MSU has lost the shootout four times (to UNO, Notre Dame (Nov. 19), LSSU, and Bowling Green (Feb. 27); MSU first got a shootout win on Jan. 16 against the Irish, then a 2-1 shootout win at Alaska, its first road shootout of the season.
MSU has surpassed last year's total of six overtime contests. All three of MSU's overtime games that did not end in a tie have been decided by 3-2 margins.
This is not a Michigan State team particularly long in the tooth - the Spartans have 12 players in the dressing room with collegiate post-season experience, and only five with more than two games under their belts.
Nick Sucharski, a fifth-year senior, has the most experience, of course - he has played in 20 all-time post-season games, including eight in the NCAA Tournament. He, along with juniors Andrew Rowe, Dustin Gazley, and Jeff Petry, all have four postseason points.
Junior alternate captain Andrew Rowe has a five-game goal-scoring streak against the Wolverines, which included a goal in each game this season against UM. In nine career games against Michigan, Rowe has averaged a point per game (5-4-9).
Classmate Dustin Gazley has eight points in 13 games (3-5-8), as does blueliner Jeff Petry (2-6-8).
In the 2009-10 season, both Rowe (4g) and Gazley (4a) have four points, and Corey Tropp has three goals. Jeff Petry (1g, 2a) and defensive partner Torey Krug (3a) each have three points. (Petry has added a team-best 12 blocked shots).
In net, Drew Palmisano has stopped 100 of 109 shots for a .917 save percentage and 2.27 GAA.
Three Spartans were among the 12 players honored as All-CCHA selections, as announced by the conference office on Wednesday, March 10. All three MSU skaters earned Second-Team honors: junior forward Corey Tropp, junior defenseman Jeff Petry, and sophomore netminder Drew Palmisano. It is the first All-Conference honor for each of the student-athletes.
It is the most All-Conference selections to the first or second team in a single year for MSU since the 2002-03 campaign, when John-Michael Liles, Brad Fast, and Jim Slater comprised half of the First Team. MSU had two selections after the 2007-08 season: Jeff Lerg (First Team) and Tim Kennedy (Second Team); an additional three were Honorable Mention picks (Justin Abdelkader, Michael Ratchuk, and Daniel Vukovic).
continue a trend
Since the 1980-81 season, all but one Spartan starting goaltender has earned All-League honors (the Spartans have competed in both the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Central Collegiate Hockey Association during this stretch). Drew Palmisano has continued this tradition with his Second Team All-CCHA selection in 2009-10.
palmy = perani
Drew Palmisano was the overall Perani Cup champion for the 2009-10 season. He is the second Spartan to capture the award. Jeff Lerg was MSU's individual Perani Cup champion in 2007, 2008, and 2009 - Lerg was the league's overall winner in 2008.
The Perani Cup Three Star Award is given to the The Perani Cup is given to the player from each CCHA school who earns the most points throughout the season each time they are selected as a "Star of the Game" - five points for first star, three for second star, and one for third). Only conference games count in the Perani Cup standings; the top recipient from each school as well as the overall winner are honored at the league's post-season awards show prior to the CCHA Championship weekend.
Freshman Torey Krug was named to the CCHA All-Rookie Team, as released by the league office on Monday. Krug ranks eighth among all conference freshmen and first among first-year blueliners in scoring (3-13-16). The All-Rookie Team consisted of forwards Andy Taranto (Alaska), Chris Brown (Michigan) and Terry Broadhurst (UNO); blueliners Krug and Joe Hartman (Miami), and goalie Mike Johnson (Notre Dame).
Classmate Derek Grant was an Honorable Mention selection among first-year players.
Torey Krug is not among the three finalists for CCHA Rookie of the Year. Two of the finalists are Andy Taranto (Alaska) and Chris Brown (Michgian), who were on the All-Rookie team with Krug. The third is Bowling Green forward Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who was an honorable mention selection.
Another curiosity is that the leading vote-getter on the All-Conference team - CCHA scoring champion Mark Olver, who received 10 first-team votes, is not a Player of the Year finalist.
Drew Palmisano was named as Michigan State's CCHA Scholar-Athlete. One player from each team is selected, from which the CCHA Scholar Athlete of the Year is chosen. Palmisano is a finance major.
Drew Palmisano is ninth nationally in save percentage (.922), and is 13th in GAA (2.27).
Palmisano has made 28+ saves in 11 of his last 15 games after making 28 or more just five times in his first 12 games of the season.
more hot hands
All scoring streaks came to an end with MSU's shutout at the hands of the Alaska Nanooks on Feb. 6, and no new ones have gotten started in the final four games of the regular season. Both Nick Sucharski and Torey Krug had points in each game of the Bowling Green series,
Corey Tropp's numbers compared to other players in the western All-America pool are favorable - he is among the top 10 in all but two categories. He is tied for fifth in points (42) and and ninth in points per game (1.17); tied for fourth in goals (20) and ninth in goals per game (0.56), tied for sixth in power-play goals (9), tied for third in game-winners, He is tied for 19th among all western players in assists (22), and tied for 22nd in assists per game (0.59).
MSU is 14-6-4 when Corey Tropp has a point, and 13-3-2 when Andrew Rowe gets on the scoresheet.
Corey Tropp has 13 multiple-point games this season, and three multiple-goal games (two were hat tricks). Derek Grant has had seven multiple-point games, including in each of his first three collegiate contests. Andrew Rowe also has seven multiple-point games, and Jeff Petry five.
he's had some "alone time"
Torey Krug is MSU's most-penalized player. At 5-9, he is MSU's smallest-stature defenseman - but has been whistled for 27 penalties for 65 minutes. Senior centerman Nick Sucharski has the second-most penalties, (18/47), and Matt Grassi is third in penalty minutes (13/43).
Corey Tropp scored Michigan State's 100th goal of the season, his power-play marker in Alaska. The Spartans scored just 62 goals a year ago.
Tropp is closing in on another century mark - he will skate in his 100th career game on Friday night in the CCHA quarterfinal against Michigan. He has a 29-41-70 scoring line in those games.
Michigan State freshmen have won three of the four CCHA Rookie of the Month awards in the 2009-10 season. Derek Grant was the Rookie of the Month for October, while Torey Krug earned the honor in both December and January.
Krug is only the second freshman in league history to record back-to-back Rookie of the Month honors - Miami's Carter Camper was the first in December and January during the 2007-08 season, the first year the award was given by the conference.
waiting for the call
Only one freshman - winger Kevin Walrod - has yet to score a goal this season. Walrod missed out on the MSU scoring extravaganza in the GLI, as he missed both games with illness.
Torey Krug (71) owns the team lead in blocked shots, followed by Jeff Petry (56), Brock Shelgren (35) and Matt Crandell (33).
for comparison sake
Derek Grant has 29 points on the season, (11g, 18a). He is the team's top-scoring freshman, the most since Tim Crowder had 17 goals and 13 assists for 30 points in the 2005-06 season. In the Comley era, only one freshman had more points than Crowder: David Booth had a 17-19-36 line in 2002-03. Grant is currently tied for third on the list of Comley freshmen behind Booth, Crowder, and defenseman AJ Thelen, who had 11-18-29 in 2003-04.
Corey Tropp's Oct. 16 hat trick against Maine was the first for MSU since Justin Abdelkader's against Bowling Green on Feb. 29, 2008, a 6-3 victory. Tropp scored on the power play, shorthanded, and even strength.
Tropp added a second hat trick on Dec. 12 against Bowling Green, a natural hat trick in which he scored at 19:17 of the second and at 3:37 and 13:22 of the third.
Tropp is the first Michigan State player to have two hat tricks in a season since Mike York had a pair in the 1998-99 campaign (he knocked in three on Dec. 26 against Northern Michigan and Jan. 8 against Miami). The previous season (1997-98), Sean Berens had three hat tricks - agaisnt Alaska-Fairbanks (Jan. 3), against Northern Michigan (Jan. 10) and Michigan (Feb. 20).
Tropp is one of four players in the country this season with two hat tricks to his credit. The others are likely CCHA Rookie of the Year Andy Taranto of Alaska, Notre Dame's Calle Ridderwall, and Mario Valery-Trabucco of Union.
career bests all around
Ten of MSU's 12 returning players who have played in at least one game this season have already bettered their 2008-09 scoring numbers. The only ones who haven't are platooning defensemen Tim Buttery (1-6-7 in 2008-09, 1-5-6 this year) and Brock Shelgren (1-5-6 in 2008-09, 0-3-3 this season.)
Corey Tropp had a 6-11-17 line as a freshman, and currently has 20-22-42. Andrew Rowe's 14 points (6g, 8a) as a sophmore has been shattered by his current 15-11-26, and linemate Dustin Gazley also had 14 points last season (7g, 7a). Gazley has a 9-11-20 line.
Jeff Petry's 4-22-26 has surpassed the 24 points he put up as a freshman, when he was a member of the CCHA's All-Rookie team.
Nick Sucharski had a 9-17-26 line a junior in 2007-08, and has 8-10-18 so far this season.
When the Spartans need a big goal, look no further than junior Corey Tropp and freshman Derek Grant - they have been on the ice for 10 of MSU's 19 game-winning goals this season, the highest number on the team. Tropp has scored five game-winners and assisted on three others (once the primary helper, twice the secondary assist). Grant, on the other hand, has two game-winners, had the primary assist on two, and the secondary assist on two others.
Jeff Petry has been on the ice for nine game-winners, while Andrew Rowe. Matt Crandell, Nick Sucharski, and Torey Krug have been on the ice for eight).
Grant has two game-tying goals as well, with an assist on a third. Tropp scored the game-tying goal in MSU's game at Alaska (Feb. 6) and has the primary assist on two other game equalizers. (Game-tying goals are defined as the goal scored in a tie game that brought the trailing team into a (final) tie score.)
at the dot
Three of MSU's regular centermen are better than .500 on faceoffs this season, led by senior Nick Sucharski (399-366, .522). Brett Perlini is 98-85 (.536) and Daultan Leveille is 200-191 (.512).
Thanks to LSJ scribe Neil Koepke for this gem: Since the 1980-81 season, all but one Spartan starting goaltender has earned All-League honors (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.
Two former Spartans represented their countries in the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Ryan Miller (Buffalo Sabres) was the US netminder, while Duncan Keith (Chicago Blackhawks) patrolled the blueline for the gold-medal Canadian squad.
Miller had an outstanding, record-setting games, as he was named the MVP of the Olympic tournament and set a new USA Hockey record for goals-against average in an Olympic Games (1.35). He recorded an assist in the second contest of the Games, the first American netminder to record a point in Olympic history. On Feb. 24, he recorded the first Olympic shutout for the US team since the 2002 Games as he stopped 19 shots in a 2-0 victory over Switzerland.