CCHA Semifinal Preview
March 16, 1998

Semifinal #1 Michigan State-Northern Michigan, Fri., March 20, 5 p.m.
Semifinal #2 Michigan-Ohio State, Fri., March 20, 8:30 p.m.
Championship Sat., March 21, 7:30 p.m.

Note of the Weekend Rematch ~ Michigan State meets Northern Michigan, the only CCHA team the Spartans did not beat in the season series. MSU was 1-1-1 against the Wildcats, including a 5-1 loss on March 7, the final day of the regular season.

Six Pack of Notes No Media Person Should Be Without

1. New-match ~ This marks the first meeting between MSU and Northern Michigan in the CCHA playoffs. They were in the league at the same time for three years in the 1980s, but never met in the postseason.

2. Reaching the Joe ~ Michigan State has advanced to Joe Louis Arena in the CCHA playoffs 16 times in 17 years in the league. The Spartans are 10-4 all-time in the CCHA semifinal game.

3. A special team ~ Michigan State leads the CCHA in both power play and penalty killing and is in the nation,s top five in both categories. The Spartans have converted on 22.3% of their power plays while killing off 90.5% of opponents,. In the last 20 games, MSU has a 94.0% penalty killing success rate (63/67).

4. Best of both worlds ~ In CCHA league play, Michigan State was the leading goal-scoring team with 110 goals, as well as the top defensive team, allowing only 54 goals. Michigan (109 and 69, respectively) was second in both categories.

5. The centers of attention ~ Centers Mike York and Sean Berens share the Michigan State team lead with 53 points apiece. When both Berens and York score goals in a game this year, Michigan State is 12-0.

6. More on the centers of attention ~ York and Berens have combined to account for 41.4% of Michigan State,s goals and 28.3% of the team,s points.

All About Alban
Hobey Baker candidate ~ Not only is senior goaltender Chad Alban leading the nation in GAA (1.54) and save percentage (.925), but his GAA is more than a half a goal lower than the next closest goalie. His save percentage is four percentage points higher than the No. 2 goalie as well. Other Alban notes:

  • Alban finished the CCHA league season with the best GAA in league history (1.63) and the third-best save percentage (.922). * has a better winning percentage, GAA and save percentage than Robb Stauber had in 1987-88, when he became the only goaltender ever to win the Hobey Baker Award
  • leads the CCHA in GAA and save percentage in league and overall games, the first Spartan since Bob Essensa (1986-87) to lead the league in league GAA * has allowed two goals or fewer in 30 of 37 games and three or fewer in 35 of 37
  • handles the puck over 30 times per game and makes outstanding decisions with it when he does
  • in nine games against teams ranked in the top 10, Alban is 7-0-2 with a 0.98 GAA, a .951 save percentage and three shutouts * he has a black cat named ,Puck0/00
  • for a complete list of where Alban stands in MSU,s all-time goaltending records, see page 40 Builder of leads ~ Senior goaltender Chad Alban has a .946 save percentage in the first period, helping MSU outscore opponents 49-17 in the opening stanza and score first in 30 of its 41 games (MSU is 27-1-2 when scoring first).

Protector of leads ~ In his three years as MSU,s primary starting goaltender, Alban has a 56-0-3 record when leading after two periods, including 22-0-2 this year.

Shooting stars ~ Michigan State is outshooting opponents by an average of 30.8-20.9. The Spartans have held their opponent to 23 shots or fewer in 30 of 41 games. MSU is 25-1-4 when allowing 23 shots or fewer.

Powerful ~ Michigan State has three players with 10 or more power-play goals (Sean Berens 13, Mike York 11, Rustyn Dolyny 10). No other team in the nation has more than one player with double digits in power-play goals.

Blown fuse ~ Michigan State did not score a power-play goal in its first-round series with Ferris State (0-for-6). It is the first time MSU has gone two games without a PPG since Oct. 31-Nov. 1 against Notre Dame (30 games ago).

Better rebounders than Dennis Rodman ~ The Spartans have won their last eight rematches with teams which beat them in the previous meeting, a streak that dates back to last year. Northern Michigan beat MSU, 5-1, March 7.

Forever young ~ While Michigan State skated an all-freshman line for much of the year (Andrew Bogle, John Nail, Damon Whitten), the last few games have seen at least one freshman on each line for MSU.

Simply the best ~ Michigan State,s goals-against per league game of 1.80 made it the best defensive team in CCHA history Ron Mason,s 1978-79 BGSU team (2.25) held the previous record.

Two for 25 ~ Centers Sean Berens (35 goals) and Mike York (25) are the first Spartan teammates to both score 25 goals since Dwayne Norris (44), Bryan Smolinski (30) and Peter White (26) all had over 25 in 1991-92.

Two for 50 ~ Centers Sean Berens and Mike York share the team lead in scoring with 53 points apiece. The Spartans last had a 50-point scorer in 1994-95, when Rem Murray (56), Anson Carter (51) and Steve Guolla (51) all surpassed the half-century mark.

vs. NMU at JLA in the GLI ~ While the teams haven,t met in the CCHA playoffs before, Michigan State and Northern Michigan have played at Joe Louis Arena twice in the Great Lakes Invitational. MSU won, 5-1, in 1983, while Northern Michigan won, 4-1, in 1992, the most recent meeting between these teams prior to this year.

Y ask y? ~ Freshman RW Rustyn Dolyny led all CCHA rookies in scoring and was seventh overall with 34 points in league play. One of two unanimous CCHA All-Rookie Team choices, Dolyny,s 39 points overall are the most by a Spartan freshman since Steve Suk (52 points) and Rem Murray (51) in 1991-92. His 18 goals are the most since Anson Carter had 19 as a freshman.

Commonality ~ Michigan State head coach Ron Mason recruited NMU head coach Rick Comley to Lake Superior, luring Comley away from Detroit Red Wings training camp. Comley was a captain at LSSU and eventually joined Mason,s staff as an assistant coach. When Mason accepted the head coaching position at Bowling Green in 1973, Comley became the Lakers head coach. Earlier this year, Comley became the first of Mason,s former assistants to join him in the 500-win club.

Commonality II ~ Several MSU and NMU players have played together in the past:

MSU Player     Team                    NMU Player
Chad Alban     Kalamazoo Jr. K-Wings   Mike Johnson
Mark Loeding   Des Moines Buccaneers   Brad Frattaroli
John Nail      Bramalea Blues          Colin Young
Damon Whitten  St. Michael,s Buzzers   David Gallo 

The fries at the bottom of the bag ~ MSU alum Tony Tuzzolino recently became the 39th player to play for Ron Mason at Michigan State to reach the NHL ... The Spartans are 12-0-1 when they have more penalties than their opponent ... the only year MSU had more than two first-team All-CCHA picks was 1984-85, with five ... Rod Brind,Amour (Canada) recently became the ninth Spartan to play in the Olympics ... Friday is junior left wing Bryan Adams, 21st birthday ... MSU is 8-0-1 in games broadcast by FOX Sports Net and/or FOX Sports Detroit.


  • MSU trails, 8-9-1
  • In Joe Louis Arena: Tied, 1-1-0, both in the Great Lakes Invitational * This year,s series: Tied, 1-1-1
  • Last meeting: NMU 5, MSU 1 (3/7/98; NMU jumps out to 3-0 lead and cruises to the win in the final game of the regular season)
  • First meeting: NMU 6, MSU 2 (10/24/80) * The two teams never met in the CCHA playoffs in the three years they were in the league together before
  • Power plays against each other this year: MSU 6-15 (40.0%); NMU 2-9 (22.2%)