Spartan Hockey Gets No. 1 Seed
March 22, 1998

EAST LANSING, Mich. - Michigan State's hockey team received the No. 1 seed in the NCAA West Region and awaits the winner of fourth-seeded Ohio State (24-12-2) and fifth-seeded Yale (23-8-3) in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. The Spartans' game is set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Ann Arbor's Yost Ice Arena.

Ohio State is no stranger to MSU, as the Spartans defeated the Buckeyes Saturday night, 3-2 in double overtime, in the longest CCHA championship game in league history. MSU and Yale have never met.

Michigan State is the No. 1 seed for the first time since 1990 and the second time since the NCAA tournament field expanded to 12 teams in 1988.

Head coach Ron Mason: "The team that plays the Friday game usually comes out and plays pretty well early in the Saturday game because they're used to it and you have to be careful because you've been off. If we have our wits about us, it will be an advantage as the game goes along. These players are used to playing two games in a row, though, so it's not as big an advantage as you might think."

(On the possible opponents): "Ohio State has really peaked here at the end of the year and they are a very, very good team. Yale has a great coach, certainly, in Tim Taylor, but we don't know much about them. We'll just see who comes out of it and we'll have to play our game no matter what. I think the big thing is that we need to do what we have done all year. We are a defensive-minded hockey team and as long as we take care of business there we find ways to score goals. The minute we start getting overanxious and try to put more numbers up there, we don't do as well."

Senior center and assistant captain Sean Berens: "We've been setting goals this whole season and thus far we have done a good job of attaining them. That's the way this team goes about things - we take things one step at a time. I think we have a tough bracket, but hopefully we can attain our goals and make it to the final four."

"Whoever we play is going to be a tough team. We know Ohio State is very good and I am sure that Yale is an outstanding team. When you get down to 12 teams in the nation any team you play is going to be great competition. We're just happy we made it to the tournament and to get a bye is a big plus for our team."

"We concentrate on defense first and let the offense take care of itself. When you've got a goaltender like Chad Alban in the net it makes your job that much easier. The way it works is we let Chad do his job and we take care of our opportunities when we get the chance."

Senior goaltender Chad Alban: "We knew we were in and it doesn't really matter who you play. Every team is good at this point and deserves to be here. It's a one-game shot, so anything can happen - we know that we will have to play our best to win."

Senior defenseman and captain Tyler Harlton: "It's definitely a big advantage having a bye and playing in Ann Arbor. The first night those teams are going to beat each other up and Ann Arbor is close to home for us - we've got a win there already this year so that's where we want to be."

"If it's going to be Ohio State it will be a lot of the same as last night. That was a hard-fought game for 80 minutes. I haven't seen Yale play yet this year, but a team has to be good to win the regular-season title. We know how tough that is."