Spartans Head to Minnesota For Season Opener
 
 
 
Kevin Walrod had two goals in last year's two-game set with Minnesota
 
Kevin Walrod had two goals in last year's two-game set with Minnesota
 
 

Oct. 10, 2012

No. 16/RV Michigan State vs. No. 1/2 Minnesota
 Dates Fri./Sat, Oct. 12-13, 2012  
 Game Times (F) 7 p.m. ET | (S) 9 p.m. ET
 Location Minneapolis, Minn..;  Mariucci Arena (Cap. 10,000; 200x100)
 Tickets Gopher Ticket Office
 Televison Fox Sports North
DirecTV ch. 663; Dish Network Ch. 436
Fox Sports Detroit will carry Friday's game live
 Radio WJIM 1240 AM
 Game Notes MSU | Minnesota
 Internet Coverage Live Stats | Live Audio
 Social Media @MSU_Hockey   |  Facebook
 Press Conference Video Head Coach Tom Anastos
 Weekend Preview Watch Video

Series Notes

  • Michigan State opens the season Friday at No. 1 Minnesota. It serves as a preview of Big Ten hockey, which begins in the 2013-14 season.
  • MSU and the Gophers have met annually since 1993, but most of those games came in the now-defunct College Hockey Showcase. The last two-game set in Minnesota was played Feb. 1-2, 1980 - a 7-6 Spartan victory, followed by a 7-1 loss to the Golden Gophers.
  • The Gophers own a commanding lead in the all-time series (101-43-13), but MSU is undefeated in its last three games against Minnesota, taking a win and a tie in the two-game set played between the teams last November at Munn Ice Arena. MSU owns a 2-1-3 record in its last six games against Minnesota overall.
  • Last year, MSU rode a 40-save performance from senior goalie Drew Palmisano and got a pair of goals from Kevin Walrod and single scores from Brent Darnell and Matt Berry as No. 20 MSU knocked off No. 2/3 Minnesota, 4-3 in the first of two games. In the Saturday night game, Palmisano made 35 saves and the Spartans got a goal and an assist from senior Mike Merrifield in a 4-4 deadlock.
  • MSU's two games at Minnesota are half of the four it will play on an Olympic ice sheet in the regular season - the Spartans have a two-game set at Alaska in the penultimate series of the regular season.

The Last Meeting
Minnesota4  
Michigan State4OT
November 26, 2011
East Lansing, Mich.
Spartans, No. 2/3 Gophers Skate to 4-4 Deadlock
Michigan State got another impressive performance from goaltender Drew Palmisano (35 saves) and a goal and an assist from senior Mike Merrifield to earn a 4-4 tie with No. 2/3 Minnesota on Saturday evening at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans, now 8-5-1 on the season, are 7-2-1 over their last 10 games, and are now 4-1-1 in non-conference games this season.

The Last Meeting
Minnesota4  
Michigan State4OT
November 26, 2011
East Lansing, Mich.
Spartans, No. 2/3 Gophers Skate to 4-4 Deadlock
Michigan State got another impressive performance from goaltender Drew Palmisano (35 saves) and a goal and an assist from senior Mike Merrifield to earn a 4-4 tie with No. 2/3 Minnesota on Saturday evening at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans, now 8-5-1 on the season, are 7-2-1 over their last 10 games, and are now 4-1-1 in non-conference games this season.

General Team Notes

  • Michigan State is coming off a 6-1 victory over Windsor in its lone exhibition game of the pre-season. MSU opened the scoring 10 seconds into the game on a Kevin Walrod tally, and he, Matt Berry, and Ryan Keller each finished with a goal and an assist in the contest. Brent Darnell, Anthony Hayes, and Travis Walsh also scored for the Spartans. Will Yanakeff made nine saves in two periods before making way for freshman Jake Hildebrand, who made four stops in the third period.
  • On Tuesday, junior Greg Wolfe was named the 2012-13 captain. Seniors Anthony Hayes, Matt Grassi, and Chris Forfar will serve as alternate captains. Hayes was an alternate captain as a junior in 2011-12.
  • 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 sits at No. 16 in the USCHO.com poll for the second straight week. MSU is receiving votes in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine survey.
  • A total of 25 Michigan State hockey games - including 16 of 19 home contests - will be televised during the 2012-13 season. Twenty-four games of the 50-game CCHA regular-season schedule involve the Spartans.
  • Michigan State lost 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. Heading into the final season of the CCHA, MSU sits second all-time in CCHA regular-season crowns, with seven (Michigan owns 11). MSU's 11 Tournament titles is three more than Michigan's eight.
  • MSU opens with a top-five opponent for the second straight year. In 2011-12, MSU's first game was against No. 5 Boston College, which went on to win the National Championship.
  • A year ago, MSU went 10-7-4 in games played against Top 20 competition, and 6-3-1 against teams ranked in the top five at the time of the game.

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.
  • In Monday's exhibition, MSU was 0-for-7 on the man advantage, but was a perfect 3-for-3 on the penalty kill. MSU did, however, surrender a shorthanded tally in the second period.

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.

NUMBERS DON'T LIE

  • Last year, the Spartans were 1-13-1 when scoring two or fewer goals, and 18-3-3 when scoring three or more.
  • MSU went 11-5-1 when scoring first and 8-11-3 when allowing its opponent to do so in games last season.
  • In 2011-12, nine of MSU's 16 losses on the season came by a single goal. MSU was 7-9-0 in one-goal games this season. Twenty-six of MSU's 39 games were decided by two goals or less, and 20 were by a goal or less.

Player Notes

  • MSU's 27-man roster averages 6-0, 195 lbs.
  • This is the second straight season that the Spartans will be captured by a junior. Current Providence Bruin Torey Krug served as captain as a sophomore and a junior.
  • In Monday's exhibition, a 12 of the 18 skaters recorded at least a point. Kevin Walrod, Matt Berry, and freshman Ryan Keller each had a goal and an assist; Brent Darnell, Anthony Hayes, and Travis Walsh each scored, while Chris Forfar, David Bondra, Matt DeBlouw, Nickolas Gatt, Matt Grassi, and Michael Ferrantino each had an assist. Six of the 12 point-scorers were newcomers to the MSU roster this season.
  • 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 vertebrae 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).
  • Will Yanakeff was named to the Preseason All-CCHA Team. Yanakeff was the Second Team goaltender.
  • Six players turned in career-best offensive seasons last year: forwards Lee Reimer (30 points), 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 scorer, with 11 goals and eight assists (19 points).