Spartans Head West for Showcase
Nov. 24, 2010
Michigan State takes a break from conference action to travel to Minnesota and Wisconsin for the final College Hockey Showcase. This will be the final edition of the College Hockey Showcase, a Thanksgiving weekend tradition the last 16 years.
In the series with the Gophers, Minnesota holds a commanding 41-101-12 record all-time. The Gophers hold a larger winning margin on their home ice, with a 53-13-7 record against the Spartans at Mariucci. MSU is winless against the Gophers since the 2000 season, a nine-game unbeaten streak (4-0-5) for Minnesota.
The Spartans own a slim 46-41-3 edge over the Badgers in the all-time meetings, and Wisconsin has not lost to MSU since the 2004 Showcase, going 4-0-1 in the last four meetings. Wisconsin took a 7-2 decision last year in East Lansing, and has taken 3-1 and 2-0 decisions in the last two meetings of the teams at the Kohl Center. The Badgers are 22-17-2 all-time against MSU on their home ice.
Friday's game will be televised on FSN North, which is availabe as part of the Sports Pack on Comcast in mid-Michigan (check local listings) or on DirecTV Channel 664. Saturday's game will be on BigTenNetwork.com.
On the radio, both contests will air on WJIM 1240 AM. The radio call can also be heard on www.spartansportsnetwork.com. Scott Moore and Rob Woodward begin their sixth season together on the call of Spartan hockey.
MSU will play six of its next seven games through the end of 2010 on the road.
The Spartans have just four home games in November and December combined after six contests at Munn Arena in October. They will play three and four home games in January and February, respectively.
The two-game set with Notre Dame last week is one of three that was formerly a home-and-home series that will now be played in one venue this season. MSU will be at home against Bowling Green in late February, and play two-game sets at Western Michigan and Notre Dame.
The series against Ferris State the first weekend in December is the only home-and-home remaining on MSU's schedule, due to the scheduling quirks of an 11-team league.
MSU will play three games against Ferris State in a five-game stretch. The Spartans will host the Bulldogs on Nov. 23 and Dec. 4, and will play in Big Rapids on Dec. 3. In between, MSU will play the final College Hockey Showcase in Minneapolis and Madison, Wis.
Starting with the Big Chill at the Big House on Dec. 11, MSU could potentially face off with Michigan in four of five games - the Big Chill game, in the second round of the GLI (Dec. 30), and in a home-and-home January 7-8.
The game at Minnesota brings St. Cloud native Matt Crandell back to his home state for just the second time as a Spartan. Crandell was a freshman when the Spartans last played the Showcase in Minneapolis.
The trip to Wisconsin has two connections - junior defenseman AJ Sturges grew up in Madison, while Jake and Dean Chelios will play their first collegiate games against their father, Chris's, alma mater. Chris Chelios helped the Badgers to the 1983 NCAA title.
Despite a solid 24-save performace by MSU goalie Drew Palmisano, his Ferris State counterpart Pat Nagle (27 saves)and the FSU defense stole the show, posting a 3-0 victory over the Spartans on Tuesday night at Munn.
The visiting Bulldogs got a goal from Chad Billins with just under five minutes remaining in the opening period, and clung to that lead until there was just 4:16 remaining in regulation, when Eric Alexander stuck the dagger in the MSU comeback attempt. Alexander added the empty-netter in the waning seconds. Nagle turned away 13 shots in the final period to preserve Ferris State's first-ever shutout victory over the Spartans.
Michigan State has three ties this season, and all have come in the first games of two-game sets. The Spartans tied Maine, 4-4, in the first game of their series with the Black Bears, and tied Alaska (1-1) and Alabama-Huntsville (4-4) in the first games of those series as well.
Michigan State has lost three straight games (two to Notre Dame, one to Ferris State). It is MSU's longest losing streak since this same week last year, when MSU dropped decisions to Notre Dame, Wisconsin, and Minnesota
MSU has tied three of its 13 games this season, well on pace to record more than the six stalemates it recorded last season. All three of the Spartans' ties have come at Munn Ice Arena.
Of last year's six ties, four were home games. MSU went 11-5-4 at home, and 6-6-2 on the road. The Spartans were 2-2-0 in neutral-site games.
The Spartans were undefeated through their first six games for the first time since 1998-99. MSU was 4-0-2 that season, and started 5-0-2 before losing to Ohio State on Nov. 13.
MSU skated to a tie in its opening game of the season for the first time in the nine-year tenure of head coach Rick Comley. The Spartans are 3-5-1 all-time in openers under the team's current mentor. MSU last tied its season opener in 2001-02, a 3-3 deadlock with archrival Michigan in "The Cold War" - an outdoor game played across the street at Spartan Stadium.
Speaking of the "Cold War" game ... that outdoor game captured the attention not only of the college hockey world but of sports fans around the globe. It was the first outdoor game in the modern era of college hockey, and it was the beginning of a decade of outdoor games which have become large-scale events not only in college hockey, but in the NHL as well. The NHL's Winter Classic is now played annually on New Year's Day, and MSU and Michigan will play "The Big Chill at the Big House" - an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium - on Dec. 11. The Big Chill game has already sold more than 109,000 tickets, which will once again make MSU-Michigan the world-record holder for hockey attendance.
In 25 of MSU's 28 seasons in the CCHA, it has finished fourth or better. MSU has won six regular-season titles, finished second eight times, third eight times, and fourth three times.
Michigan State fell out of the USCHO.com national top-20 poll, but is still receiving votes. In the USA Hockey/USA Today poll, MSU is no longer receiving votes, after finishing outside the survey's top 15 as the top team receiving votes for two straight weeks.
The 2010-11 CCHA Pre-Season polls find picked fourth by the conference coaches and third by the league's media.
For the third time in four years, the coaches and media disagree over who should own the No. 1 position in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's annual preseason polls. The conference's 11 head coaches ranked defending playoff champion Michigan first, while 75 media members named defending regular-season champion Miami as the preseason favorite.
The Spartans return 19 players from a 19-13-5 team a season ago, including Second Team All-CCHA selection Drew Palmisano. Seventeen of the 19 returnees were letterwinners a year ago. MSU is quite "middle-classes" heavy - the roster features just two seniors and five freshmen on a roster of 26 student-athletes. The Spartans lost four players to graduation and three would-be seniors to professional hockey in the off-season. Sophomore Derek Grant is the team's top returning scorer (12-18-30), followed by junior Daultan Leveille (6-19-25). Palmisano boasted a 2.44 GAA and .917 save percentage in his first season as a starter.
Rick Comley is beginning his 38th season behind the bench of a college hockey program, and his ninth season at MSU. With 768 victories entering the season, Comley ranks among the top five coaches all-time in wins and top three among active coaches.
Comley owns a 772-602-109 (.559) career overall coaching record, good for fourth place on the all-time wins list.
Former MSU coach and athletic director Ron Mason finished his career behind the bench in 2002 with 924 wins, while Jerry York of Boston College has 856 and Jack Parker of Boston University has 838.
Michigan State finished the 2009-10 CCHA season in second place. MSU's improvement of eight spots in the league standings from the previous season tied the all-time best jump from one year to another in conference history (Ferris State was ninth in the 2002-03 season, then captured the league title a season later.) Michigan State finished in a tie for 10th in 2008-09, but was the 11th seed in the playoffs due to losing the tiebreaker.
A year ago, Michigan State was picked eighth and ninth in the pre-season polls by the media and coaches, respectively. Michigan State was the CCHA team in 2009-10 which finished the most spots ahead of its preseason projection.
Sophomore winger Derek Grant was named the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 15 after a five-point weekend against Ohio State.
Drew Palmisano earned CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors for his performance in the Alaska series (Oct. 22-23). Junior defenseman Brock Shelgren was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week after the Maine series. It was the first CCHA weekly honor in his career.
Sophomore captain Torey Krug was named to the CCHA Preseason All-Conference Team. Krug received the third-most votes of any blueliner in the conference, garnering three first-place votes and 30 points. Junior goaltender Drew Palmisano was an honorable mention selection, garnering 14 points and one first-place vote.
Rick Comley owns a 40-28-7 record in games against non-conference teams since coming to Michigan State prior to the 2002-03 season. (This includes regular-season, tournament, and NCAA Tournament games) Only once has a Comley team been sub-.500 in games against non-conference foes in a season (2003-04), and is 26-17-4 over the last five seasons (2005-10.)
Michigan State was 5-3 against non-conference competition in 2009-10, going 1-1 against Hockey East, 3-0 against ECAC Hockey, and 1-2 against the WCHA. MSU's 2010-11 schedule has one independent (Alabama-Huntsville), up to four games against WCHA competition (Minnesota, Wisconsin, MIchigan Tech, and possibly Colorado College in the GLI) in addition to the two-game set with Hockey East entry Maine.
So far, MSU is 2-0-2 against non-conference teams, with a win and tie each against Maine and UAH. The Spartans' next non-conference action comes Thanksgiving weekend in the College Hockey Showcase.
This year, MSU is 2-0-2 when scoring four goals or more, and is 2-6-3 in games scoring three or fewer. MSU is 4-2-1 when allowing three or fewer, and 0-4-2 when giving up four or more.
27 of MSU's 38 games a year ago were settled by two goals or less, and 12 were one-goal affairs. Of the eight that were two-goal margins or more, four involved an empty-net goal.
MSU was 8-4-0 in one-goal games in 2009-10, and is 2-2-0 in those games this season.
Michigan State allowed six goals to Notre Dame on Nov. 19, the most since a 7-2 loss to Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase last November.
MSU has outshot its opponents in just five of 13 games, including holding its opponents under 20 shots twice. Despite being on the short end of the shot margin in more than half its games, opponents have 365 shots this season - compared to 363 for MSU.
Michigan State was outshot in 25 of its 38 games last season, but on the year was outshot only by a 1099-1051 margin, a total of 48 shots over 38 games.
MSU has been swept twice this season - at Western Michigan (Nov. 5-6) by 4-3 and 3-1 scores, and Nov. 19-20 at Notre Dame (2-6, 2-4).
MSU had taken at least a point out of every CCHA series last season - one of just three teams to do so . The WMU series was MSU's first point-less weekend since the final regular-season weekend against Notre Dame in February of 2009.
Against Ferris State on Tuesday (Nov. 23), the Spartans suffered their first shutout since Feb. 5, 2010 at Alaska. It was the first time that they were shut out at home since Oct. 16, 2008 - a 3-0 loss to UMass-Lowell.
Michigan State allowed six power play goals in its first three games (13-for-19 on the kill, .684), and has allowed just five in its last 10 contests combined (37-for-42, .881).
MSU's had a streak of 15 consecutive successful kills halted with an Irish power-play tally last Friday in the second period. The Spartans went 8-for-10 against Notre Dame, and extinguyished all three chances against in the Ferris State game.
The Spartan power play was 1-for-10 in the Notre Dame series, but remains at 17.4%, (11/64, fourth in the CCHA).
MSU has potted two man-advantage tallies in four different games this season.
The Spartans allowed shorthanded goals to Notre Dame in each of their two games last weekend, including Saturday's game-winner with just under two and a half minutes remaining in regulation. The empty-net goal was also a shorthanded marker, giving MSU three shorthanded tallies against in the series. The Spartans allowed just five shorthanded goals all of last season.
As a team, Michigan State is better than 50% on faceoffs (334-327, .505) this season. Of the Spartans most frequently lining up for a faceoff, Daultan Leveille (115-98) is at 54%. Brett Perlini (30-25) and Lee Reimer (38-24) are also better than .500.
During the Rick Comley era, the Spartans have traditionally been a second-half team. The first three months (October, November, December) of his eight seasons in East Lansing, the Spartans have been a combined 81-71-17 (52.9%), then compiled a 87-45-17 mark in the second half (64.1%).
With MSU's a 14-6-2 first-semester record last year it surpassed the 2007-08 squad for most wins under Comley in the opening semester. That team had the then-best first-half record (12-5-2, 68.4%), and were 13-7-3 in the 2008 portion of the schedule (63%).
Last year appears to be a juxtaposition of seasons past in the Comley regime - MSU jumpd out to a 14-6-2 first-half ledger (.681), and its second-semester record was 5-7-4 (.438).
Twelve of MSU's 32 goals scored this season have come in special teams situations - 11 on the power play, and one shorthanded. Of the 24 goals the Spartans have allowed, nine have come with a man advantage.
As you might expect of a team with a 4-6-3 overall record, there are many MSU/opponent comparisons that fall right on that middle line. The Spartans have scored 33 goals and allowed 37 (including one empty-net goal for and three empty-net tallies against), MSU has been outshot 365-363 overall on the year, has scored and allowed 11 power-play goals, and has had just four more extra-man opportunities than its opponent. MSU has scored one and allowed two shorthanded goals (that wasn't scored into an empty net). MSU has also taken two more penalties (78 to 77), but has the same number of 10-minute misconducts. Also, opponent goaltenders have just one more save than the Spartan duo of Drew Palmisano and Will Yanakeff.
MSU has taken one more penalty than its opponent this year, but has been whistled for six more minor infractions than its opponent. While there have been five majors called against opponents in MSU's 13 games this season (including two majors in its Nov. 20 game against Notre Dame), the Spartans have been assessed just one.
MSU is 0-1-3 in overtime games this season. Michigan State played to a 4-4 deadlock with both Maine and Alabama-Huntsville, but the teams did not do a shootout following a scoreless overtime period in either contest. The Spartans lost their lone shootout vs. Alaska, but it came with controversy - a disputed no-goal call on Dean Chelios as the first shooter. MSU lost that shootout, 2-1.
Michigan State played nine overtimes last season, with an official record of 2-1-6. In the six ties, MSU lost the shootout four times (to UNO, Notre Dame (Nov. 19), LSSU, and Bowling Green (Feb. 27); MSU first got a shootout win on Jan. 16 against the Irish, then a 2-1 shootout win at Alaska, its first road shootout of the season.
Freshman Lee Reimer was the first freshman to get on the board this season, his first collegiate point coming on Brett Perlini's second-period goal in the second game of the Maine series.
Two classmates joined him on the season scoresheet in the Alaska series. Jake Chelios had his first career two-point game on Oct. 23 against Alaska, the same night he had his first career point (an assist on Daultan Leveille's tally) and collegiate goal. Greg Wolfe had his first collegiate point in the same game, an assist on Chelios' third period marker.
Freshman goalie Will Yanakeff saw his first collegiate action on Nov. 19 at Notre Dame, coming in to play the third period in relief of Drew Palmisano. The rookie stopped 12 of 13 shots in that third peirod. He got the starting nod a night later, and made 19 saves against three goals in a 4-2 loss.
In his first collegiate start on Saturday, freshman goalie Will Yanakeff faced a penalty shot against ND's Ben Ryan just 22 seconds into the game. Yanakeff made a right leg -pad save; it was the first saved penalty shot for MSU since Feb. 2, 2008, when Jeff Lerg stopped Nebraska-Omaha's Bill Bagron in a 4-2 Spartan victory.
With a late shorthanded goal standing as the game-winner, Will Yanakeff became just the seventh netminder since 1980 (of 21) to fail to record a victory in his first collegiate start at Michigan State. Drew Palmisano won his first MSU starting assignment, on Oct. 17, 2008 against UMass-Lowell.
Freshman centerman Greg Wolfe's scored his first collegiate goal on Nov. 19 at Notre Dame. It was a bit of a fluky score - a shot rang off the glass behind the goal cage and flipped high into the air, was missed by a pair of opposing players trying to swat at it, and it instead fell straight down, caromed off the shaft of Wolfe's stick and beat the goalie five-hole.
It took first-year player Jake Chelios three games to get on the scoreboard for the first time, but since breaking the ice (so to speak), he has had points in five of his next nine games played.
Chelios had a power-play goal in each of the two games against Ohio State (Nov. 5-6). He is the team's top-scoring first-year player, and he is now second on the team in goals with four .
On top of the scoring prowess, Chelios has also been rapidly improving not only while adjusting to college hockey, but also playing a new position. All throughout junior hockey, Chelios had played forward - he had expressed an interest in switching to play defense to start his college career. His father, 26-year NHL veteran Chris Chelios, made the same switch at age 19 as well.
After recording just three assists in his first eight games, Derek Grant has had seven points (2g, 5a) in his last four contests. He owns the team's active point-scoring streak at four games.
Only one sophomore - winger Kevin Walrod - has yet to score a collegiate goal. He had three assists last season.
Walrod has missed the last six of the last seven games with injury.
Every player who has appeared in at least seven games for the Spartans - and 18 of the 22 skaters to dress in a game for the Spartans overall - have already recorded at least one point, and 15 have at least two points.
Torey Krug's seven-game point-scoring streak came to an end last Friday when he was held off the board at Notre Dame, but he rebounded with a game-tying third-period marker against the Irish the following evening.
Coming into the season, his personal longest point-scoring streak was just two games.
Torey Krug's Nov. 20 tally at Notre Dame was his third of the season, matching his total number of goals from a season ago.
Brett Perlini's first-period goal and third-period empty netter on Nov. 6 against Ohio State were his seventh and eighth tallies of the season, coming in his 10th game. Perlini scored seven goals in 20 games a year ago, and entered his junior season with nine career tallies.
Perlini is the team's leading scorer with 13 points, while six players behind him have between 5-11 points.
The winger was held off the scoreboard in the last two games. It was the first time he had been held without a point in back-to-back games this season.
Torey Krug was MSU's most-penalized player last season. At 5-9, he is MSU's smallest-stature defenseman - but was whistled for 27 penalties for 65 minutes.
In 12 games this season, Krug has been whistled for nine penalties for 21 minutes - team highs in both categories.
Michigan State has blocked 142 shots in 13 games, compared to 179 for its opponents. In the second game against Alaska (Oct. 23), the Nanooks blocked 30 MSU shots.
Sophomore captain Torey Krug has blocked a team-high 26 shots, while Krug's defensive partner Matt Grassi has 10. Blueliners Brock Shelgren (21) and Jake Chelios (12) also register double-digits.
Since the 1980-81 season, all but one Spartan starting goaltender has earned all-league honors (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.
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