Oct. 17, 2013
On The Fly...
Michigan State begins regular-season play in 2013-14 with its first-ever visit to UMass ... The Spartans are 3-0 all-time against the Minutemen.
MSU and UMass last met in the Ice Breaker Tournament on Oct. 10, 2008 at Agganis Arena on the campus of Boston University - the Spartans won the game, 3-1.
Friday's opener is the latest start for a Spartan team since 1993-94 when MSU played its first game on Oct. 22 and defeated UIC, 6-3, at home.
Michigan State welcomes back 17 letterwinners from last season's team, including seven sophomores, five juniors and five seniors. A total of six newcomers have joined the Spartans for the 2013-14 season.
The Spartans return 84% of both their total point and goal production from last season.
MSU's top six scorers from a season ago in Matt Berry (15-16-31), Tanner Sorrenson (13-8-21), Matt DeBlouw (10-11-21), Greg Wolfe (9-12-21), Brent Darnell (10-10-20) and Lee Reimer (4-13-17) accounted for 70% of the team's goals and 89% of the team's total points in 2012-13.
In the inaugural Big Ten preseason poll as selected by the coaches, Michigan State was selected to finish fourth, along with Ohio State, while Wisconsin was picked to win the conference. Minnesota and Michigan were selected second and third, respectively, while Penn State was picked sixth.
MSU had four true freshmen - Travis Walsh, John Draeger, Matt DeBlouw and Michael Ferrantino - play in all 42 games last season, marking the first time the Spartans have had four true freshman play every game of a season since 2001-02. Ash Goldie, Duncan Keith, Mike Lalonde and Brock Radunske played in all 41 contests of the 2001-02 campaign.
This weekend's series will be a part of the inaugural Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge. Eleven different institutions will participate in 13 designated games to be played between October 18-27, with six games in Hockey East arenas on the first weekend, followed by six games in Big Ten arenas and a single game on neutral ice on the second weekend.
MSU's home games on Oct. 25, vs. UMass-Lowell, and Oct. 26, vs. Boston University, will also be part of the Big Ten/Hockey East Challenge.
SPARTAN SEASON-OPENING NOTES
The Spartans are opening the regular season on the road for the third consecutive year ... MSU is 40-28-4 in season-opening games ... MSU opened the 2008 season with a 3-1 win over UMass in the Ice Breaker Tournament in Boston ... The Spartans' last series sweep to open the season came Oct. 9 and 10, 2009 when it topped Clarkson 6-1 and 4-3 at Munn.
RECAPPING WESTERN ONTARIO
Sophomore Michael Ferrantino scored one of three third-period MSU goals, and assisted on another as the Spartans defeated Western Ontario, 4-1, on Oct. 9 at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans controlled the play for the majority of the game, outshooting the Mustangs, 47-21, overall and by a count of 18-5 in the third period. Freshmen Villiam Haag and Joe Cox and senior Dean Chelios also scored for MSU. Sophomore goaltender Jake Hildebrand played the entire game and made 20 saves.
THE NEW FRONTIER
After 32 seasons as part of the CCHA, Michigan State joins Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the inaugural year of the Big Ten hockey. The six schools will meet one another four times during the regular season - twice at home and twice on the road. The 2012-13 Big Ten Tournament is slated for March 20-22 at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. The top-two teams will receive a first-round bye.
A GREAT RUN
Michigan State exited the CCHA on top with a league-best all-time record of 586-277-93 (.661) in conference games. MSU's .661 winning percentage was also the highest. The Spartans also took home 11 CCHA Tournament titles, which was two more than any other team.
AMONG THE NATION'S BEST IN ATTEDANCE
MSU finished last year ranked eighth in the nation in attendance, averaging 5,869 fans per game - its highest home-attendance average since 2003-04 when it averaged 6,438 over the span of 24 games.
The Spartans set a Munn Arena single-game attendance record with 7,225 fans on Nov. 10, 2012 vs. Michigan. MSU went 5-0 in home games that were sold out in 2012-13.
THE MUNN ADVANTAGE
Since its opening in Nov. 1974, Munn Ice Arena has provided the Spartans with an undeniable advantage. Entering its 39th season as the home of MSU hockey, Spartan teams have compiled a dominating 517-194-58 (.710) record in the building.
The Spartans went 8-8-1 at Munn Arena last season, continuing the streak of 32 consecutive seasons with a record of .500 or better in the facility.
CATCH THE SPARTANS ON TV - 28 TIMES
MSU will have at least 28 games televised this season. Fox Sports Detroit will air 13 Spartan games, while BTN will carry seven contests. Comcast Television in Michigan will air five MSU games and NBC Sports Network, ESPNU and ESPNews will all carry one. In total, there will be a minimum 75 games televised featuring Big Ten teams in 2013-14.
STRONG IN NET
Senior Will Yanakeff and sophomore Jake Hildebrand return in 2013-14 to give MSU one of the stronger goaltending tandems in the nation. Yanakeff has appeared in 52 games over his first three seasons, posting a career save percentage of .918 and GAA of 2.56. As a sophomore, he emerged with a 13-8-1 record and a .927 save percentage.
Hildebrand had a strong freshman campaign, owning a .929 save percentage and a 2.35 GAA in 28 starts. The Butler, Pa., native made at least 27 saves in 22 of his 28 starts, and allowed two goals or fewer in 17 games. He was named one of the "10 Goaltenders to Watch" in 2013-14 by USCHO.com.
WOLFE RETURNS WITH THE "C"
Senior Greg Wolfe returns as the Spartans' captain for the 2013-14 season. He is the second consecutive player (Torey Krug, 2010-11, 11-12), and the ninth in Spartan history, to be named team captain at least two straight years. Don McSween (1984-85, 85-86 & 86-87) is the only three-time captain in program history.
The Spartans will be without sophomore defenseman John Draeger, junior forward Matt Berry and sophomore goaltender Nate Phillips for the early part of the season. All three players are out with lower-body injuries and had surgery in mid-September. They are expected to return sometime in December.
Berry was the Spartans' leading scorer last season with 15 goals and 16 assists, tying for 10th in CCHA scoring with 31 points.
Draeger was one of four Spartan freshmen to have appeared in all 42 games last season. He ranked third in the nation in blocked shots with 89.
MSU's roster features five players that have been drafted by National Hockey League clubs. Four Spartans were taken in the 2012 Entry Draft, including freshman Mackenzie MacEachern (St. Louis) and sophomore John Draeger (Minnesota), who were selected consecutively in the third round with picks 67 and 68, respectively. Redshirt freshman defenseman Rhett Holland was taken in the fourth round at 102nd overall by Phoenix and sophomore forward Matt DeBlouw was picked in the seventh round at 186th overall by Calgary. Junior defenseman and Sunshine State native RJ Boyd was taken in the seventh round in 2010 by Florida.
GLI PART OF THE HOCKEYTOWN WINTER FESTIVAL
The 49th-annual Great Lakes Invitational will take place Dec. 27-28 at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers, as part of the Hockeytown Winter Festival and the NHL Winter Classic. Michigan State will face host Michigan Tech in the first semifinal on Dec. 27 at 3:30 p.m. and Michigan will play Western Michigan in the other semifinal at 7 p.m. The third-place game and championship game are slated for 3:30 and 7 p.m. on Dec. 28.
The GLI will lead off five consecutive days of hockey at Comerica as part of the Sirius XM Hockeytown Winter Festival. Two Ontario Hockey League games, an American Hockey League game and two Red Wings-Toronto Maple Leafs Alumni Games are scheduled for the days following the GLI.
The Spartans have made 39 appearances in the GLI and have won 12 titles, most recently in 2009.
Spartans in the NHL
A total of 13 former Spartan hockey players have played in the NHL this season, including: Torey Krug (Boston), Ryan Miller (Buffalo), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Shawn Horcoff (Dallas), Chris Mueller (Dallas), Justin Abdelkader (Detroit), Drew Miller (Detroit), Jeff Petry (Edmonton), Mike Weaver (Florida), Adam Hall (Philadelphia), Tim Kennedy (Phoenix), David Booth (Vancouver) and Jim Slater (Winnipeg).
Last season, MSU had 16 alums that appeared in the NHL, which was tied for the fourth most among all college programs.
The Spartans will play their first home games of the season next weekend when they host UMass-Lowell (Oct. 25) and Boston University (Oct. 26).