Oct. 7, 2012
GENERAL TEAM & SERIES NOTES Michigan State 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.
Michigan State debuting at No. 16 in the USCHO.com pre-season poll, the first survey of the 2012-13 season. Last week, MSU was one of several teams receiving votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine pre-season poll.
A total of 25 Michigan State hockey games - including 16 of 19 home contests - will be televised during the 2012-13 season. Twenty-four of the 50-game CCHA regular-season schedule involve the Spartans.
Michigan State loses 10 letterwinners from the 2011-12 team which finished fifth in the CCHA and reached the NCAA Tournament.
In addition to the graduation of nine seniors, two-time captain and Hobey Baker finalist Torey Krug signed a free-agent contract with the Boston Bruins and played two NHL games in the regular season, opting to forego his senior campaign.
Tom Anastos guided the Spartans to a 19-16-4 overall record in his first 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.
MSU's strength of schedule in 2011-12 was second in the country, behind Notre Dame. The Spartans have Frozen Four semifinalist Minnesota and Atlantic Hockey entry Niagara on its non-conference docket, and will play NCAA qualifier Western Michigan and potentially Michigan or Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational as its non-conference slate.
The 2012 Great Lakes Invitational will be a part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival in conjunction with the NHL Winter Classic. MSU will play its third and fourth-ever outdoor games at the GLI. The Spartans will be debuting 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 will look for it's 12th CCHA Tournament title in school history, the most of any conference school. With this being the final season of the CCHA, MSU sits second all-time in CCHA regular-season crowns, with 7 (Michigan owns 11). MSU's 11 Tournament titles is three more than Michigan's eight.
SPECIAL TEAMS Last year, Michigan State was one of the least penalized teams in the country. Of 58 Division I teams, the Spartans were 50th (11.4 PIM/game) and 10th in the CCHA.
MSU's penalty kill was at 87% last season (134/154), which led the CCHA and ranked fourth in the country.
The Spartan power play operated at a 16.7% efficiency in 2011-12, (25/150), seventh in the CCHA and 40th nationally.
TRENDS, STREAKS, AND TENDENCIES Nine of MSU's 16 losses last season were by a single goal. MSU went 7-9-0 in one-goal games. Twenty-six of MSU's 39 games were decided by two goals or less, and 20 by a goal or less.
MSU was 11-5-1 when scoring first last season, and 8-11-3 when allowing its opponent to do so.
Last year, Michigan State was one of the least penalized teams in the country. Of 58 Division I teams, the Spartans were 50th (11.4 PIM/game) and 10th in the CCHA.
PLAYER NOTES MSU's 27-man roster averages 6-0, 195 lbs.
Jake Chelios is the only defenseman who appeared in 25 games or more last year to return to the roster this season. Senior Matt Grassi was injured in the Miami series in early January, and missed the remainder of the season.
While only two of MSU's defenseman are returning letterwinners, both RJ Boyd and Nickolas Gatt have appeared in college hockey games. Boyd played 15 games at Sacred Heart in 2010-11 before returning to junior hockey, while Gatt played 52 games over the last two seasons for Alabama-Huntsville.
MSU returns just 55% of its scoring from a year ago (161 of 293 points, and 59% of its goal production (65 of 111 goals scored). However, 70% of its scoring from its forwards return, but just 11.6% of its defenseman scoring from a year ago (9 of 161 returning points).
MSU welcomes 12 new faces to the roster this season: five forwards, six defensemen, and one goaltender. In addition, redshirt freshman Justin Hoomaian returns to the roster healthy after missing all but five games last season with injury.
Redshirt freshman Branden Carney fractured his C1 and C2 vertibrae in a practice fall last October. Carney wore a "halo" for more than three months, but has had a truly remarkable recovery. He is hoping to receive clearance to once again play hockey.
Three incoming freshmen were selected in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft in Pittsburgh. Blueliner John Draeger heard his name called by his home-state Minnesota Wild at No. 68, and fellow rearguard Rhett Holland went to Phoenix with their fourth-round selection. Matt DeBlouw was Calgary's seventh-round pick at No. 186 overall.
Transfer RJ Boyd was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Boyd was the 186th pick overall, and went to the Panthers in the seventh round.
Junior Will Yanakeff started 10 of the final 12 Spartan games in 2011-12. On the season, Yanakeff was fifth in the CCHA in win percentage (13-9-1, 58.7%), fifth in save percentage (.922), and 10th in goals against average (2.50).
Six players turned in career-best offensive seasons last year: forwards Lee Reimer (30 pts), Greg Wolfe (26), Kevin Walrod (18), Dean Chelios (15), Chris Forfar (11), and Anthony Hayes (11).
Kevin Walrod and Anthony Hayes both eclipsed their career numbers as juniors. Each had 11 points in their first two varsity seasons combined; Walrod had 18 points as a junior, and Hayes had 11.
Matt Berry was an Honorable Mention selection to the 2012 CCHA All-Rookie Team. Berry was MSU's top freshman