Spartans Open CCHA Schedule at Lake Superior
Oct. 13, 2011
Michigan State kicks CCHA play this weekend as it travels to the upper peninsula to take on Lake Superior State.
On the radio, all games will be carried by the Spartan Sports Network and will air on WJIM 1240 AM. The weekend tilts can also be heard on www.spartansportsnetwork.com. Scott Moore and Rob Woodward are in their seventh season together on the call of Spartan hockey. There will be no television coverage of the weekend series. Lake Superior State does provide a live video stream via the B2 Network.
With a new head coach, Michigan State looks to improve upon its 10th-place finish in the CCHA a year ago, when it had a 15-19-4 overall record.
Junior captain Torey Krug returns to the Spartan blueline after earning First Team All-CCHA and the league's Best Offensive Forward honors as a sophomore, and was voted as a Pre-Season All-CCHA selection by the conference's head coaches. He anchors a defense which returns all six starters from a year ago, and three of those players are seniors (Brock Shelgren, Tim Buttery, Matt Crandell) who have combined for 202 games on the Spartan blueline.
Further bolstering the MSU defensive efforts are the tandem of goaltenders who both saw significant time a year ago. Senior Drew Palmisano earned All-CCHA honors as a sophomore and has been the team's Perani Cup champion (most post-game three-star distinctions) the last two seasons. Sophomore Will Yanakeff saw action in 14 games as a freshman and was invited to USA Hockey's World Junior evaluation camp.
The largest question mark is who will step up and deliver offense. The Spartans will need to replace the scoring of the team's departed leading scorer Derek Grant (8-25-33; opted to forego final two seasons of eligibility and sign with the Senators) and fourth-leading scorer and 2011 graduate Dustin Gazley (11-15-26). Four of the team's five freshmen are forwards. Seniors Brett Perlini (18-12-30) and Daultan Leveille (8-10-18) are expected to be significant contributors, while Krug was the team's third-leading scorer last season from the blue line. With a new staff and no pre-conceived notions, all 27 players have an opportunity to step in, earn playing time, and settle into roles within the new systems which the Spartans will employ.
MSU is 67-32-12 all-time against the Lakers, which includes a 25-14-6 mark in Sault Ste. Marie. The Spartans are headed to the Soo for the second consecutive season; last year, MSU took a win and a tie from the series, but lost the shootout. MSU is unbeaten in its last four games against the Lakers (0-2-2) since LSSU swept a series in January 2009.
The Lakers finished eighth in the CCHA last season with a record of 8-12-8-5. LSSU had a 13-17-9 overall record and was 2-3-1 against non-league opponents. Jim Roque , a four-year letterman for LSSU (1983-87) is in his seventh season behind the Laker bench, and guided his team to a sweep of Alabama-Huntsville in its 2011-12 opening weekend.
LSSU returns two of their top five point scorers from the 2010-11 season; junior forward Domenic Monardo was LSSU's second-leading scorer from last season with 12-17--29, and junior defenseman Zach Trotman, with 6-14--20, was fourth on the team in points.
CCHA All-Rookie Team goaltender Kevin Kapalka also returns after an impressive 2010-11 campaign that included a 12-12-8 record, .924 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average. He will anchor a veteran defense led by Trotman and senior Kyle Haines. Haines was a two-time CCHA Defensive Player of the Week and totaled 4-6--10 last season.
Michigan State split its season-opening weekend in Grand Forks, N.D. last weekend, falling to No. 5 Boston College and rebounding with a big overtime victory over Air Force the following evening. On Friday, the Eagles scored three times in the final 8:20 of regulation to blow open a tight contest and hand Michigan State a 5-2 loss in the opening game of the 2011-12 season.
BC broke through with its first goal of the game at 4:17 of the second period, when Tommy Cross' blast was tipped in front by Patrick Brown, giving the Eagles the early advantage. MSU knotted the score at 10:32 of the frame, as Jake Chelios took the pass from Daultan Leveille, and fought through a check on the left boards. He carried the puck to the half-wall, and threw it out into the slot for Brett Perlini. Perlini collected it and shot from the left hash, netting the Spartans first of the season. The Eagles took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission thanks to a goal in the final minute of the period.
At the midpoint of the third, the Spartans had a few nice chances, collecting their own rebounds and peppering Parker Milner with a trio of shots at the left post, but the goalie was up to the task, preserving his team's slim lead. The MSU persistence paid off, as Trevor Nill knotted the game at 10:53 on a rush up the left side that he wristed from below the dot. The lead was short-lived, however; just 50 seconds later, Kreider carried the puck up the left side with a defender a half-step behind on his hip, got Palmisano to commit to the left post, then went forehand-to-backhand to put the puck into an empty right side. The Eagles tacked on two more late in the frame to add some insurance to the win.
Lee Reimer scored his second goal of the game 54 seconds into overtime to give MSU its first victory of the Tom Anastos era, a 3-2 win over Air Force in the consolation game on Saturday. Will Yanakeff made his first start of the season and recorded 26 saves in the winning effort. Reimer's game-winner came as the Spartans were establishing themselves in the offensive zone early in the extra period. Greg Wolfe got the puck over to the left side of the net for Dean Chelios, who had a swipe, but Reimer played the role of hero, getting the puck into the back of the net.
Air Force took a 1-0 lead in the opening period.on a bit of a fluky goal, as Casey Kleisinger shot from about 5 feet off the wall on the goal line, and the puck caromed off the leg pad of Yanakeff and into the back of the net.
The Spartans got the equalizer 8:33 into the middle frame. Dean Chelios held the puck against the right wall deep in the zone and got the puck up to Reimer at the edge of the circle closest to the wall. Reimer sent a cross-slot pass to Wolfe in the left circle, and he beat Jason Torf blocker-side. MSU ended up taking a 2-1 deficit into the locker room for the second intermission for the second straight night when it allowed a goal to Scott Mathis with 1:48 remaining in the period.
The Spartans took advantage of a power play to net the equalizer at 5:21 of the third period.. Matt Crandell carried the puck over the blue line and dished to Reimer, who barreled into the slot. His backhand pass to Wolfe was tapped by the Falcon defender, putting it back onto Reimer's stick. Reimer slid the puck past Torf for his first of the season. Yanakeff made several down the stretch - including three notable ones which turned away sure scores - to keep the Falcons off the board.
Unable to settle in regulation, the teams advanced into the overtime period. The Spartans came out aggressively, buzzing the offensive zone on both the first and second shifts. The Spartans did not wait long to be rewarded for their persistence, getting the game-winner less than a minute into the extra period.
MSU captured four of a possible six points last January in the UP, posting a shutout victory and tie/shootout loss against Lake Superior State.
Brett Perlini scored twice as the Spartans scored all their goals in the final 15 minutes of regulation to post a 4-0 victory over Lake Superior State in the Friday night game. Will Yanakeff made 24 saves in his first collegiate shutout. Daultan Leveille and Dean Chelios had the other two Spartan tallies, and Derek Grant had a pair of assists.
On Saturday, Brock Shelgren and Grant were the Spartan goal scorers, as each scored first-period markers in a 2-2 tie. Laker Ben Power ended four-round shootout with a goal that beat Yanakeff low to secure the extra shootout point for the Lakers on Saturday evening in Sault Ste. Marie.
Yanakeff was the CCHA Rookie of the Week for his performance in the series, stopping 58 of 60 shots against in the series with the Lakers.
Senior Brett Perlini had an impressive series last year at LSSU, scoring two goals in a four-goal third period. Perlini is from just across the Canadian border - Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
Former Spartan skater (1982-85) and assistant coach Tom Anastos takes the reigns of the MSU hockey program for the 2011-12 season, becoming just the sixth head coach in program history. Anastos spent the previous 13 seasons as the commissioner of the CCHA.
Tom Anastos is one of nine new head coaches around college hockey in 2011-12, not including Penn State (which will begin play next season with Guy Gadowsky at the helm).
The Tom Anastos era began with a tough 5-2 loss to No. 5 Boston College last Friday, but of the six hockey coaches in the history of the Michigan State program, only one has won his debut against collegiate competition behind the Spartan bench: Ron Mason, college hockey's all-time winningest coach (Mason posted a 7-6 victory over Western Michigan.) In 1925, John Kobs dropped a 6-3 decision to Michigan, Harold Paulsen lost his first game to Michigan Tech (6-2) in 1950, Amo Bessone was on the wrong end of an 11-1 decison against Michgian in 1951, and Rick Comley lost to Denver in 2002 (5-0).
Of the nine new coaches in college hockey this season, three have yet to coach their team in a countable game - Bob Prier at Princeton, Norm Bazin at UMass-Lowell, or Nate Leaman at Providence. Both Casey Jones (Clarkson) and Jim Madigan (Northeastern) tied their first games but suffered losses in their second, while Mel Pearson (Michigan Tech) and Andy Murray (Western MIchigan) got sweeps from their new teams.
Anastos lost his MSU coaching debut - a 5-2 loss to No. 5 Boston College - but he did join the winners club when his team rebounded with the victory over Air Force.
Of those nine new coaches, Tom Anastos is one of the three that faced (or will face) a ranked team in his coaching debut with his new team. Providence's Nate Leaman's maiden voyage comes against No. 17 Boston University on Friday, while Princeton's Bob Prier has to wait a few weeks for his season opener against current No. 3/6 Yale.
The CCHA's annual preseason polls were released on Sept. 28, and MSU was selected eighth in the coaches poll and sixth in the survey of the league's media. For just the second time in six years, the coaches and media agree on who should be No. 1, as Notre Dame received enough points from the conference's 11 head coaches and 72 media members to be named the preseason favorite in both polls.
Michigan State was not included in the USA Hockey/USA Today preseason poll, and was receiving votes in the USCHO.com preseason survey.
While only an exhibition game, the Michigan State hockey team made an emphatic statement in the squad's first game for a new mentor, defeating Western Ontario, 6-1, on Oct. 3 at Munn Ice Arena. It was the first game behind the bench for head coach Tom Anastos, who watched his team put on an impressive effort - the Spartans brought both speed and quickness, an aggressive but controlled demeanor, and a blue-collar mentality to their first game for their new head coach.
The Spartans outshot the Mustangs by a 13-6 margin, but had just a Brett Perlini goal to show for it in the 1-0 lead at the intermission. The floodgates opened after that, as MSU poured in four second-period tallies - one from Torey Krug, a pair from sophomore Greg Wolfe, and one from freshman Tanner Sorenson - to take a commanding lead into the dressing room at the second break. Dean Chelios capped the scoring in the third period, shortly after Western Ontario had broken up the shutout midway through the third period. Senior goalie Drew Palmisano made 22 saves. In addition to Wolfe's two-goal outing, Perlini, Sorenson, and Chelios all had a goal and an assist, while blueliner Tim Buttery had a pair of helpers.
MSU has 10 seniors on the roster this season, the largest senior class since the 1977-78 campaign under Amo Bessone, which also boasted 10.
In the Rick Comley era, the Spartans owned a 42-32-7 record in games against non-conference teams. (This includes regular-season, tournament, and NCAA Tournament games). Last year, MSU went 4-2-2 against non-conference teams.
MSU's 2011-12 schedule has a three games against WCHA competition (two against Minnesota, and against MIchigan Tech in the GLI) in addition to a possible twowith Hockey East entry Boston College - in addition to last Friday's game, BC is the fourth team in the GLI, and will play Michigan in the first round. The Spartans also will have a two-game set against Robert Morris at Munn, and one against Air Force for three games against Atlantic Hockey.
In 2010-11, MSU went 7-9-2 against ranked opponents, but was an impressive 4-1-2 against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game. The only loss against a top-10 opponent was MSU's 4-0 loss to Michigan at Yost Ice Arena.
Last year, the Spartans employed 60 different forward line combinations in search of consistent scoring. Anastos went with the same exact lineup in both games at the IceBreaker, with each goalie getting a start.
MSU was 6-8-0 (with four overtime losses) in one-goal games in 2010-11. MSU lost both of its CCHA playoff games in overtime, including Alaska's double-overtime win that eliminated MSU from the postseason.
MSU outshot its opponents in just 14 of 38 games last season, including holding its opponents to 20 shots or less four times.
Last weekend, MSU was outshot in both games by a combined 63-42.
MSU had one powerplay marker (in eight tries) and one shorthanded in the two games in North Dakota. MSU's penalty kill was a perfect 6-for-6 on the weekend.
MSU was swept three times during the regular season in 2010-11, and also in the playoffs. Three times it happened on the road - at Western Michigan (Nov. 5-6) and Nov. 19-20 at Notre Dame. MSU was swept at home by Northern Michigan on Feb. 11-12 the first time since 2008 that a visiting team swept the Spartans on home ice. Alaska swept the playoff series at the Carlson center as well.
Michigan State swept their first series of the season, 2-1 and 2-0, over Bowling Green to complete the regular season. MSU recorded its first series sweep since October 2009, when it downed Clarkson. It was the first sweep of a CCHA team since Oct. 26-27, 2007 vs. Northern Michigan.
MSU picked up its first overtime win in its first try of the year. MSU's last overtime win came against Michigan at Munn Ice Arena last year; it was MSU's only OT win in nine tries last season (1-4-4) MSU is now 4-4-10 in overtime games dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season.
MSU's loss to Boston College in the season opener was MSU's first loss in the month of October since Oct. 23, 2009 at Miami. MSU was 3-0-3 in October of 2010.
Junior defenseman Torey Krug is the fifth player in MSU history to wear the captain's "C" on his jersey for two seasons. Last year, he was the program's first solo captain as a sophomore in team history. The alternate captains are senior Trevor Nill and junior Anthony Hayes. Nill is in his second season as an alternate captain, while this is the first captain's role for Hayes at MSU.
Sophomore Lee Reimer had a tough start to his 2011-12 season, as he was whistled for a major penalty and game misconduct in the second period against Boston College, ending his night after just 25 minutes of play.
Reimer rebounded the next night with his first multiple-goal game in an MSU uniform with a pair of tallies an an assist against Air Force; it was his first multi-point game since a 1-2-3 line in the GLI last December against Colorado College. He was named to the IceBreaker All-Tournament Team.
Trevor Nill's goal against Boston College was his first tally since Oct. 22, 2010 against Alaska.
Head Coach Tom Anastos has been asked several times whether he will pick one of the team's goaltenders as his primary starter, or employ a platoon. The play of each goalie last weekend did not help determine Anastos' future plan of action, as both had solid outings in North Dakota.
On Friday, Drew Palmisano made 30 saves against the aggressive, talented Boston College offense. He now has 23 games at MSU with 30+ saves.
In Saturday's game, Will Yanakeff overcame a tough early goal to post a victory in overtime over Air Force behind 26 saves. He made three critical stops in the third period to keep the game deadlocked, leading to the overtime heroics of Lee Reimer.
Anastos has maintained that he does not have a philosophy on playing one steady starter vs. a platoon system, and that the play of the netminders will determine who gets the nod for the time being.
Senior Brock Shelgren appeared in his 100th career game on Oct. 7 against Boston College. He is one of three players to hit the 100-game mark - Daultan Leveille (112) and Matt Crandell (110) are the others. The next to reach the milestone will be blueliner Tim Buttery, who enters the LSSU series with 97 games under his belt. Brett Perlini has appeared in 86 career games.
MSU senior alternate captain Trevor Nill is a nominee for the Lowe's Senior CLASS award, presented each year to the outstanding senior NCAA Division I Student-Athlete of the Year across ten different sports. The acronym "CLASS" stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School®. The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award celebrates the loyalty of seniors that honor a four-year commitment to their university. The Senior CLASS Award® recognizes these student-athletes for great achievement during competition and in their community while staying in school.
He is a dedicated student, with a 3.4 cumulative grade-point average as a mechanical engineering major. Last spring, he was among the finalists for 2011 BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award in addition to taking home the CCHA's Ilitch Humanitarian Award.
Nill carved out a significant amount of time to give back to his campus and community in East Lansing. He has been the hockey program's representative for SAAC for three years, and this year, he is serving as the group's president. He is also the vice-president of the MSU chapter of Athletes In Action. Nill has volunteered his time to a wide-spanning list of community service initiatives undertaken by the team. He has never turned down a request to be involved in things like Relay for Life, Children's Miracle Network, March is Reading Month, or programs for the local Big Brothers/Big Sisters chapter. Nill is an extremely kind and compassionate young man, and there is no further evidence needed than his dedication to children in the local Lansing area. He has been actively involved in Spartan Buddies, visiting children in Sparrow Hospital's pediatric ward. He also is the annual leader during MSU Athletics' "Teams for Toys" initiative, where the hockey team adopts a local needy family for the holidays. He has also worked extensively with hockey ministries camp, volunteered his time with Camp Kesem (for children with parents battling cancer), and volunteered with the Detroit Red Wings Clark Park event in conjunction with Family Day in Detroit.
Since the 1980-81 season, all but one Spartan starting goaltender has earned all-league honors at one point in their career. (the Spartans have competed in both the Western Collegiate Hockey Association or Central Collegiate Hockey Association during this stretch).
The list reads like a who's who in Spartan hockey - Ron Scott, Bob Essensa, Norm Foster, Jason Muzzatti, Mike Gilmore, Mike Buzak, Chad Alban, Joe Blackburn, Ryan Miller, Dominic Vicari and Jeff Lerg. Scott, Alban, Blackburn, Miller and Lerg were All-Americans. The only starting goalie who didn't make an all-star team or win an award during this stretch was Matt Migliaccio in 2002-03. Drew Palmisano kept the streak alive with his Second Team All-CCHA honor in 2009-10.
Freshman Tanner Sorenson is a rare species in college hockey - the player who enters college directly after playing for his high school team. Sorenson played for Shattuck St. Mary's, winning a 18-U Tier I National Championship in 2011. Since the 1991-92 season, Sorenson is just the third MSU player to skate for his high school team in the season before enrolling at MSU - Brian Clifford (1991-95) and Chris Mueller (2004-08) both played for the Nichols School in their hometown of Buffalo. Both Clifford and Mueller also played a split season, playing for both their high school and the local AAA team during their senior years. Sorenson played solely for Shattuck last year.
MSU has 11 former skaters on 2011 opening-night rosters in the National Hockey League; Ryan MIller (Buffalo), Drew MIller and Justin Abdelkader (Detroit), David Booth and Mike Weaver (Florida). Jim Slater (Winnipeg), Shawn Horcoff, Jeff Petry and Corey Potter (Edmonton), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Adam Hall (Tampa.
Michigan State gets its home opener next Thursday, welcoming Ohio State to Munn Ice Arena for a two-game set.
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