Hockey Prepares for NCAA Quarterfinals

March 23, 1998

Quarterfinals Sat., March 28, 6 p.m., Yost Ice Arena

Note of the Weekend:

Against the field - Michigan State enters the 1998 NCAA tournament as the No. 1 seed in the West. The Spartans own a 10-1-0 record against the rest of the field in 1997-98, with the only loss coming against potential quarterfinal opponent Ohio State. MSU is 4-0 vs. Michigan, 2-0 vs. Wisconsin, 1-0 vs. Boston University and 3-1 vs. Ohio State this year.

Senior goaltender Chad Alban played each of those 11 games. He has a 1.41 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage against teams in the tournament this year.

Five More Notes No Media Person Should Be Without

1. Winning all they can win - Michigan State has won every championship it has competed for thus far in 1997-98. The Spartans opened the year claiming the title in the Team Cheerios Ice Breaker Invitational and followed that up with the Great Lakes Invitational championship. MSU also won the CCHA regular-season championship and the playoff title. All of this success followed a six-year drought in which MSU did not win a single championship, dating back to the 1990-91 Great Western Freeze-Out.

2. About the bye - Michigan State is 1-1 the two times it has had a first-round bye in the NCAA tournament (1989, 1990). Bye teams have generally had success since the field expanded to 12 teams in 1988. Thirty-two of the 40 bye teams since then have advanced to the semifinals, including 17 of 20 in the last five years.

3. Center of attention - Centers Mike York (58 points) and Sean Berens (54) are 1-2 on the Spartan team in scoring. They have accounted for 41.2% of the team,s goals and 28.6% of its points.

4. Center of attention on the power play - Centers Sean Berens (14 power-play goals) and Mike York (13) are 1-2 in the nation in power-play goals. Freshman right wing Rustyn Dolyny (10 PPGs) is also in double digits in power-play goals.

5. A Special Team - Michigan State boasts both a power play (22.4%) and penalty kill (90.5%) ranked in the top five in the nation. The Spartans led the CCHA in both categories. Over the past 20 games, the Spartan penalty killing unit has killed off 65-of-69 opportunities (94.2%) while the power play has converted on 28-of-91 chances (30.8%).

What if? ... MSU plays Ohio State

Old friends - MSU head coach Ron Mason coached Ohio State head coach John Markell at Bowling Green. MSU assistant coach Tom Newton was a teammate of Markell's at BGSU.

Recent foes - Michigan State and Ohio State met in what is already one of the most memorable CCHA finals in history last Saturday, just a week prior to what could be a rematch. MSU defeated the Buckeyes in the second overtime after 82:30 of play and 91 combined shots.

What if? ... MSU plays Yale

Old friends - Head coaches Ron Mason and Tim Taylor have known each other since they were seniors in college and the captains at St. Lawrence and Harvard, respectively.

New foes - Michigan State and Yale have never faced each other before.

All About Alban

Hobey Baker candidate - Not only is senior goaltender Chad Alban leading the nation in GAA (1.52) and save percentage (.927), but his GAA is more than a half a goal lower than the next closest goalie. Other notes: * finished the CCHA 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
* carries an 11-game winning streak into the NCAA tournament and a 12-game unbeaten streak
* has allowed two goals or fewer in 32 of 39 games and three or fewer in 37 of 39
* handles the puck over 30 times per game and makes outstanding decisions with it when he does
* the CCHA Player of the Year, Feb. 28 he became the fourth college goaltender to be credited with a goal and the first to shoot the puck himself into an empty net (he also had an assist in the game) A rare double - Michigan State was the only team in the nation to win its league,s regular-season and playoff championships. The Spartans had accomplished the double three times before (1990, 1989, 1985).

Another kind of double - Michigan State is one of two teams in the nation (UNH) with two Hobey Baker Memorial Award finalists in Chad Alban and Mike York. The list of 10 was announced last week and the winner will be revealed April 3. MSU has had two finalists in one year only once before (1989, Kip Miller, Bobby Reynolds).

The best around - Based upon a statistical analysis of the top 10 hockey leagues in North America, it could be argued that Michigan State has the best defense on the continent (stats from March 27, 1998, Hockey News). The Spartans, goals-against per game of 1.67 is significantly better than the NHL,s New Jersey Devils, the next best squad on the continent at 1.95.The NHL,s Dallas Stars (2.02) and Hockey East,s Boston University (2.22) round out the top four.

Forever young - Michigan State freshmen accounted for each of the Spartans, last four goals last Friday night. MSU has featured at least one freshman on each line in the last six games.

Builder of leads - Senior goaltender Chad Alban has a .945 save percentage in the first period, helping MSU outscore opponents 50-18 in the opening stanza and score first in 31 of its 43 games (MSU is 28-1-2 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 31.4-21.3. The Spartans have held their opponent to 23 shots or fewer in 31 of 43 games. MSU is 26-1-4 when allowing 23 shots or fewer.

Shooting stars II - Michigan State has fired 38, 36, 35 and 51 shots on goal in its four games against Ohio State this year.

Against the East - The Spartans have not faced an ECAC team since a 6-2 win over Cornell Nov. 3, 1995.

Like Switzerland - Michigan State is a perfect 7-0 in neutral-site games this season. The Spartans won in their only trip to Yost Ice Arena this year, a 4-2 decision over Michigan which saw Rustyn Dolyny record his first career goal.

Commonality - Ohio State and Yale head coaches John Markell and Tim Taylor are making their first NCAA tournament appearances.

Uncommonality - MSU head coach Ron Mason is making his NCAA record 18th tournament appearance.

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 in 30 league contests.

Simply the best - Michigan State,s goals-against per league game of 1.80 made it the defensive team in CCHA history. Ron Mason,s 1978-79 Bowling Green team (featuring John Markell) previously held the record at 2.25.

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 other 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 ... MSU is 11-0-1 in games broadcast by regional sports networks such as Midwest SportsChannel and FOX Sports Detroit ... Michigan State and Princeton were also in the same NCAA Regional in basketball, but in hoops the brackets had the two schools meeting in the second round.

The Basics

Storyline: Top seed Michigan State awaits the winner of the first-round game between fourth-seeded Ohio State and fifth-seeded Yale. Last Week Michigan State won its eighth CCHA playoff championship and its first since 1990 with a dramatic double-overtime victory over Ohio State, 3-2. Shawn Horcoff ended the longest championship game in CCHA history with his goal at 2:30 of the second OT in a game dominated by goaltending.

The Records:

MSU: 33-5-5 (21-5-4 CCHA)
OSU: 25-12-2 (19-10-1 CCHA)
YALE: 23-8-3 (17-4-1 ECAC)

The Coach
MSU: Ron Mason
Overall: 808-348-63 (32)
MSU: 519-238-49 (19)

On the air The NCAA West Regional will be broadcast by NCAA Productions and picked up by outlets across the nation and on pay-per-view. Ken Daniels provides play-by-play while Tom Reid offers analysis.

MSU will make at least 28 television appearances this year. Saturday,s game and all Spartan games can be heard on WVFN-AM 730, with Scott Moore calling the play-by-play. Volunteer assistant coach Willie Mitchell provides analysis. That broadcast is also available by calling TEAMLINE at (800) 846-4700 (code #5300). Michigan State games are also available free of charge on the Internet at

WWW Check out www. for information, features and history on Spartan Hockey, including the 1997-98 media guide. Audio interviews with players and coaches are also available on the site, including a weekly look at the upcoming games with Chad Alban posted each Wednesday.