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Home Opening Series on Tap for Spartans

Kevin Walrod

Michigan State vs. Niagara
 Dates Fri./Sat, Oct. 19-20, 2012  
 Game Times 7:05
 Location East Lansing, Mich..;  Munn Ice Arena (Cap. 6,470; 200x85)
 Televison (F) Comcast
Ch. 900 in mid-Michigan
 Radio (F) WJIM 1240 AM | (S) WVFN 730 AM
 Tickets Spartan Ticket Office
 Game Notes Michigan State | Niagara (PDFs)
 Internet Coverage Live Stats
Live Audio | Streaming Video (subscription required)
 Social Media @MSU_Hockey   |  Facebook
 Press Conference Video Head Coach Tom Anastos
 Promotions (F) Four Seats, Four Treats | (S) MSUFCU Night


• Michigan State hosts Niagara in its first home games of the 2012-13 season. In all, MSU will play 19 times at home over the course of the regular season, which includes a pair of exhibition contests.

• The Spartans welcome Niagara to Munn Ice Arena for the home-opening series. This will be the second series played between the two teams all-time, but they come 10 years apart. The teams played a two-game set in November 2002 at Munn Ice Arena, with the Purple Eagles taking the first game (2-1) before the Spartans rebounded with a 5-4 victory.

• Niagara is a member of Atlantic Hockey, and is off to a 1-1-1 start to the season. The Purple Eagles opened the campaign with a 2-2 tie against Bowling Green, then lost 10-2 to Colgate before posting a 2-1 victory over conference rival Mercyhurst. The Purple Eagles were 17-11- 9 last season, and were second in Atlantic Hockey with a 14-7-6 record.

• MSU's series against Niagara are the only games it will play in the regular season against a team from Atlantic Hockey. MSU has a possible three against the WCHA (the pair at Minnesota, and possibly Michigan Tech in the Great Lakes Invitational). MSU may play two non-conference games against CCHA competition - the Spartans face Western Michigan in the GLI semifinals, and will play the Michigan Tech-Michigan winner on the second day of the tournament.


• The Spartans got an eye-opening experience in their opening series at No. 1 Minnesota. MSU dropped a pair of 5-1, 7-1 decisions to the Gophers in Minneapolis. In both games, the Gophers used big first periods to post insurmountable leads. Sophomores Tanner Sorenson and Brent Darnell had the MSU scores on the weekend, both in the third period. Will Yanakeff's numbers don't relay how well he played, peppered with 62 shots over five periods. Jake Hildebrand played his first collegiate action in the third period of Saturday's game, stopping nine shots and allowing one goal.

• Michigan State had 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.

• MSU allowed its most goals in a two-game series (12) since allowing 13 to Northern Michigan in the 2009 CCHA First Round.

• Minnesota's seven goals on Saturday is the most the Spartans had surrendered since NMU's eight goals in the second game of that 2009 CCHA series.

• MSU dropped its first two games of the season for the first time since the 1992-93 season. That team dropped a two-game set to Miami, but went on to finish 24-14-2.

• MSU opened its schedule with a top-five team for the second straight season, and surrendered five goals to each. Last year, MSU fell to eventual National Champion Boston College, 5-2.

• Over the last two seasons, MSU is undefeated at home in non-conference games. MSU was 3-0-1 last season against Robert Morris and Minnesota, and was 2-0-2 against Alabama-Huntsville and Maine.

• On Oct. 9, 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 fell out of the poll this week after sitting at No. 16 going into the Minnesota series. MSU is receiving votes in the USCHO poll, but is no longer recieving votes in the USA Hockey Magazine survey.

• A total of 25 Michigan State hockey games - including 16 of 19 home regular-season 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 failed to convert on five power-play opportunities against Minnesota last weekend. The Golden Gophers were able to convert twice in 10 chances: once when skating on a two-man advantage in game one, and the other more than three minutes into a five-minute advantage for a major whistled against Jake Chelios for hitting from behind.

• 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.


• 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.


• Despite 10 power play chances against in the Minnesota series, the Spartans did not allow a 5x4 goal on a minor penalty all weekend. Friday's Gopher PPG was 5x3, and Saturday's PPG was more than three minutes into a five-minute major penalty.

• Last year, the Spartans were 1-13-1 when scoring two or fewer goals, and 18-3-3 when scoring three or more. MSU scored just once in each game in its first two losses at No. 1 Minnesota.

• 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.


• Senior forward Dean Chelios missed the opening series with an arm injury, and continues to be evaluated. He is out indefinitely.

• 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 remarkable recovery from what could have been a devastating injury. He is hoping to receive clearance to once again play hockey.


• MSU's 27-man roster averages 6-0, 195 lbs.

• MSU's weekend lineup against top-ranked Minnesota featured eight skaters making their MSU debut, six of which were playing their first collegiate game. Four forwards (David Bondra, Matt DeBlouw, Mike Ferrantino, and Ryan Keller) were all playing their first contest, as were defensemen Travis Walsh and Minnesota/Shattuck St. Mary's product (and Wild draft pick) John Draeger. Nickolas Gatt (Alabama-Huntsville) and RJ Boyd (Sacred Heart) both had played previous college games, but made their MSU debut. Freshman goalie Jake Hildebrand got his first taste of collegiate action in the third period of Saturday's tilt.

David Bondra became the first member of the freshman class to record a point, assisting on Tanner Sorenson's score on Friday evening.

• This is the second straight season that the Spartans will be captured by a junior (Greg Wolfe). Current Providence Bruin Torey Krug served as captain as a sophomore and a junior.

• In the Windsor 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.

• 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).



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