Spartan Icers Host Big Ten Foes
Nov. 25, 2009
No. 7/8 Michgian State vs. No. 15 Wisconsin (F) | vs. Minnesota (S)
Date/Time: Nov. 27-28; 7:05 p.m.; Munn Ice Arena
Tickets: A limited number of tickets remain for this weekend's game. Purchase Tickets
Audio: WVFN 730 AM; all audio can also be heard at www.spartansportsnetwork.com
Live Video Webstream: BigTenNetwork.com
storyline Michigan State takes a break from conference action to host Wisconsin and Minnesota in the College Hockey Showcase.
The Spartans own a slim 46-40-3 edge over the Badgers in the all-time meetings, and Wisconsin has not lost to MSU since the 2004 Showcase, going 3-0-1 in the last four meetings. The teams tied, 4-4, in their last Showcase meeting in East Lansing, where MSU holds a 23-13-1 edge all-time. In the series with the Gophers, Minnesota holds a commanding 41-100-12 record all-time; the series is a bit closer at Munn, where MSU only trails 25-43-5.
showcase history Michigan is the all-time winningest program in College Hockey Showcase games, with an 18-13-6 record. Minnesota is 16-11-5. Michigan State is an even .500 with a 13-13-6 record, while Wisconsin is 10-20-2. MSU is 0-3-3 against Minnesota in College Hockey Showcase games in East Lansing, and is 1-4-1 against the Badgers those same seasons.
recapping the action MSU is coming its first weekend of action without a win, tying and losing to 14th-ranked Notre Dame in a home-and-neutral site series.
around the league In addition to the CHS games being hosted by Michigan State and Michigan, CCHA teams are taking part in two other tournaments: Lake Superior is at the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament, taking on Union and either Rensselaer or Bentley; Ohio State and Miami are both at the Subway Holiday Classic at North Dakota, with Bemidji State. In conference action, Notre Dame hosts Bowling Green, Northern Michigan is at Alaska, and Western Michigan is at UNO.
non-conference Michigan State started the season with a 3-1 record against non-conference competition, sweeping Clarkson and splitting a series at Maine. Rick Comley owns a 36-26-5 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 21-12-4 over the last four years (2005-09.)
honorary "c" Michigan State will take part in honoring its past in its present with the introduction of Honorary Captains. In selected games this season, former MSU skaters will come back to campus to serve as an Honorary Captain for one game. The Honorary Captain will attend pre-game meal with team, address the Spartan squad prior to the contest, and stand on the bench during the game. This allows the program not only to honor former players, but also to share with current team members what donning the Green and White meant to those who came before them. On Saturday against Minnesota, former netminder Joe Blackburn (MSU 1997-01) will serve as the honorary captain. One of six Spartans all-time to earn both All-American and Academic All-American honors, Blackburn ranks second all-time at MSU in career goals against average (1.76) and third in save percentage (.920). A three-time Academic All-CCHA pick, Blackburn earned All-CCHA honors in 1999 and was MSU's Blueline President's Award winner in 2001.
Oct. 10 - Dave Kelley (1973-77)
represent your state
prognosticating Michigan State was selected ninth by the head coaches and eighth by the league's media in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's annual preseason polls. In two close races, Michigan received enough points from the conference's 12 head coaches and 66 media members to be named the preseason favorite in both surveys. The polls were announced in conjunction with the CCHA's pre-season media conference call with all 12 head coaches, held this season in lieu of a media day in Detroit. MSU garnered 46 points in the survey of conference coaches, and 332 points in the media poll, which included one first-place vote.
what's new? The CCHA announced that a regulation or overtime victory will be worth three points in the league standings this season, a change from when the shootout was instituted last season. This season, a regulation or sudden-death overtime win will earn a team three points in the standings, a shootout victory will garner two points, a shootout loss will be rewarded by one point, and a loss in regulation or overtime will mean no points. So, any game that goes to a shootout will see the victor credited with a tie and a shootout win in the conference standings, while the loser will receive credit for a tie. This differs from the system utilized in 2008-09, where a regulation/overtime victory or a shootout win meant two points, a shootout loss gave a team one point, and a regulation/overtime loss was awarded no points.
m.a.s.h. unit In 2008-09, Michigan State had a total 14 players miss time with 16 injuries, totaling 221 practices missed and 108 games lost.
gaining ground Comley captured his 750th career victory on Friday, Oct. 9 with a 6-1 victory over Clarkson. He now owns a 758-585-101 (.562) 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 825 and Jack Parker of Boston University has 819. The Feb. 7, 2009 victory over Ferris State (1-0) was the 150th victory for Comley at MSU.
law of averages MSU's current roster averages: 6-0, 181 lbs., and the average age is 20 years, 10 months. Among CCHA schools, MSU was one of 10 schools that averaged 6-0 or taller, the Spartans were the lightest team on average, and were third-youngest. (Michigan's roster averages 20 years, two months, and Notre Dame averages 20 years, nine months.) Compared to last year, MSU's roster is the same average height, but is six pounds heavier and eight months older - despite adding nine freshmen.
youth movement Michigan State's roster features 18 underclassmen - nine sophomores and nine freshmen. The Spartans have the most first-year players of any conference team, and rank second in sophomore class size behind Alaska (11). Alaska boasts 19 underclassmen, the only league team with more than MSU.
quite the cluster Michigan State and Michigan will be paired with Bowling Green and Notre Dame for the 2009-10 season as clustermates. The schools will face off four times, and play against the remaining eight schools in the conference twice.
heft in the schedule MSU is 4-1-1 against teams ranked in the top ten this season, and 4-2-2 overall against ranked teams overall.
speaking of rankings ... The Spartans were the consensus No. 6 team in both national polls last week (Nov. 16), their highest ranking since March 10, 2008 when they also held down the No. 6 spot. MSU is seventh and eighth, respectively, in the USCHO and USA Hockey polls this week.
undefeated no more The Spartans knocked off previously-undefeated teams in three straight series - Miami on Oct. 24, Western Michigan on Oct. 30, and Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 5.
conference streaking The Spartans had an undefeated streak of eight straight conference games snapped on Sunday, the longest streak since MSU did not lose (5-0-3) in the month of January 2008.
the floors must be dirty Against Clarkson, Michigan State recorded its first sweep of a home weekend since Nov. 9-10, 2007 against Mercyhurst. With an abundance of home-and-home series, the Spartans have played only nine two-game home sets since that weekend.
getting a hang of this road game thing Michigan State won its fourth road game of the season on Nov. 13 at Michigan, two more than it won in all of last year.
fingers crossed for November MSU had a 6-2-0 mark at the end of October, marginally better than the 4-2-2 mark it owned at the end of October last season. MSU's downward spiral began when injuries started to pile up in November - when MSU failed to win a game (0-7-1) and scored just eight goals during the month. November has not been an easy month for the 2009-10 Spartans, either - it has three straight conference series against top-ten teams (No. 10 Nebraska-Omaha, No. 6 Michigan, No. 14 Notre Dame), and wraps up this weekend against Big Ten foes in the College Hockey Showcase against Minnesota and Wisconsin. So far, the Spartans are 3-1-2 in the first three series, guaranteeing no worse than a .500 record.
scoring outbursts ... halted MSU was limited to just a pair of goals in its two-game set with Notre Dame, its lowest scoring ouput in a weekend this season. The previous low was four, in a split at Miami. MSU has, however, scored 42 goals this season ... more than two-thirds of its offensive production from a year ago (62).
don't look now Michigan State is 20th nationally in scoring offense (3.0 gpg) and eighth in scoring defense (2.14 gpg).
scoring outbursts, part two Michigan State has scored four goals or more in four of its 14 games. MSU only reached the four-goal plateau twice last season.
win em close Eleven of MSU's 15 games this season have been settled by two goals or less. Of the four that were two-goal margins or more, three involved an empty-net goal.
you miss 100% of the shots you don't take Michigan State has been outshot in nine of its 14 games thus far, but on the season, is only being outshot by 13 shots total (384-371). MSU is averaging 26.5 shots per game, and allowing an average of 27.4. In 2008-09, the Spartans averaged 23.97 shots per game, which ranked last of 58 teams nationally. The Spartans allowed 35.32 per game, which was the second-highest total in the country behind Brown. In shot margin, MSU ranked 57th (-11.34), behind only Brown (-14.85).
scoring drought ... corrected The Spartans averaged just 1.63 goals per game a year ago, not only the lowest average in Division I hockey, but also a program low for scoring output in a season. This year has started with a stark contrast - MSU has averaged 3.0 goals over 14 games, good for 20th nationally.
specialties MSU's power play has sputtered in the last four games, going 0-for-18 in the two series against Michigan and Notre Dame combined. MSU's power play was 15-for-59 in the first 10 games (25.9%). However, the penalty kill has killed off its last 19 chances against, after starting those first ten games extinguishing just 79.7% (51-of-64) of opponents power-play opportunities. Currently, MSU's power play is at 19.5% (15-of-77), and its penalty kill is at 84.1% (69-of-82). The Spartans scored just 20 power play goals a year ago, and their power play ranked 11th in the league (20/182, 11.0%).
academic achievement MSU's hockey program recorded a 3.05 cumulative grade-point average in the fall 2008 semester, an all-time best. The team also posted a 2.905 in the spring semester of 2009. Three players recorded perfect 4.0 semesters: Brock Shelgren (fall) and Jeff Lerg and Jacob Schering (spring).
compete with the east MSU took on two eastern teams - Clarkson and Maine - to open the 2009-10 season. MSU compiled a 3-1 record in the four games played, and is 5-3 over the last two years against Eastern competition. MSU's WCHA stretch comes in November and December, when it has Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan Tech on the schedule. One more eastern team (Rensselaer) is a possible opponent in the Great Lakes Invitational.
strong second halves 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 77-65-15 (538%), then compiled a 82-40-13 mark in the second half (61.6%). The 2007-08 Spartans had their best first-half record under Comley (12-5-2, 68.4%), and were 13-7-3 in the 2008 portion of the schedule (63%).
the young ones Michigan State's lineup has a youthful look for sure - the Spartans have dressed 14 freshmen (9) and sophomores (5) each weekend.
free hockey Michigan State has played three overtimes this season with an official record of 1-0-2. The two ties, MSU has lost the shootout (to UNO and Notre Dame). MSU's overtime victory on Oct. 24 at Miami was its first in an extra session since the CCHA Tournament consolation game in 2007, a wild 7-6 victory over Lake Superior on March 17, 2007. Between overtime victories, MSU played 12 games that went to an extra session, and owned an 0-2-10 mark in those contests. Five of those ties were last year, with the shootout rule - MSU won the shootouts in three the four conference tilts that required an extra session.
league kudos Drew Palmisano was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Nov. 16. Palmisano limited Michigan to two goals on the weekend and backstopped the Spartans to their second shutout of the season at home on Saturday. Palmisano posted a 1.00 GAA and .960 save percentage over the two-game set and stopped 48 of 50 shots.
quite the month, with a reward at the end Freshman Derek Grant has been named the RBC Financial CCHA Rookie of the Month for October, and earned the national award from the Hockey Commissioner's Association (HCA) later in the week. The top-line winger for the Spartans finished the month tied for the national lead in rookie scoring, goals, and assists with a 4-6-10 scoring line. In the CCHA he ranked second in scoring, and tied for fourth in both goals and assists. His 3-4-7 stats on the power play ranked second in the CCHA, and his three power-play goals is the third-highest total in the country. In addition, he ranked fourth nationally among rookies (appearing in more than one game) in points per game (1.25). Grant opened his MSU career with three-straight multiple-point games, and earned CCHA Rookie of the Week kudos after the Clarkson series (Oct. 12).
quite the month, but no award ... Corey Tropp, while losing out on RBC Financial Player of the Month kudos to Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham, had quite the impressive month as well. Through the end of October, the winger was tied for national lead in goals (7) and ranked second in points (13), was the CCHA's leading point (13) and goal scorer, and ranked third in assists (6) . Tropp also led the CCHA in power play goals, assists, and points (4-4-8), and was a +3 He had multiple-point efforts in six of eight games , including his first career hat trick in a road win at Maine. He ranked second nationally in power play goals (4) , tied for third in shorthanded goals (1)m and also tied for second in game-winning goals (2). He was11th nationally in points per game (1.62) and fifth in goals per game (0.88) (among players appearing in more than one game), and through eight contests, was assessed just one minor penalty. He was named the CCHA Player of the Week after the Maine series in which he had four goals and an assist (Oct. 19).
hot hand Drew Palmisano had a weekend where he allowed just four goals and posted a .902 save percentage despite MSU's tie and loss to Notre Dame. The sophomore ranks third in the conference with a 1.79 GAA and fourth with a .932 save percentage; he ranks seventh and eighth, respectively, in those categories nationally. He is also tied for third nationally in goaltender victories (7) and tied for 11th in winning percentage (7-2-2, .727).
hotter hand recently In his last eight starts, Palmisano owns a 5-1-2 record with a 1.46 GAA and .944 save percentage.
firsts Anthony Hayes scored his first collegiate goal and had his first collegiate assist on Oct. 31. His assist set up the first college goal for his linemate, Dean Chelios. The two combined on a Hayes goal in the Nov. 5 game against Nebraska-Omaha.
balance The Spartans are getting top-to-bottom contributions from its lineup for the crux of its success in its recent run. While the power play did not produce any points the last two weekends, four of the combined seven goals came from the Andrew Rowe- Daultan Leveille- Dustin Gazley line, with the others from Derek Grant, Corey Tropp and third-line center Chris Forfar, a freshman.
mad hatter Corey Tropp's Oct. 16 hat trick against Maine was the first for MSU since Justin Abdelkader's against Bowling Green on Feb. 29, 2008, a 6-3 victory. Tropp scored on the power play, shorthanded, and even strength. On the weekend vs. Maine, Tropp had four goals and an assist, and was a +1.
o from the d Jeff Petry is third on the team in scoring with a 1-9-10 scoring line, is tied for the second-most points among CCHA defensemen.
back in green Last December, then-freshman forward Mike Merrifield returned to junior hockey for the remainder of the season, and played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. His coach in Green Bay was John Cooper, who coached Merrifield the previous season in the NAHL with the St. Louis Bandits. In 38 games in Green Bay, Merrifield had 18 goals and 16 assists (34 points), potted 12 points on special teams, and was a +9. Merrifield cracked the lineup in MSU's series at Maine, and scored his first collegiate goal (and point) on a beautiful tic-tac-toe score in the second period of the second game. He has been in the lineup the last nine games, and has a 2-2-4 scoring line.
an eclipse ... It took six games for Corey Tropp to eclipse the 11 points he amassed in his sophomore campaign, with 6-6-12 in his first six contests. In 2008-09, he had three goals and eight assists in 21 games. Matt Crandell has met his 2008-09 scoring output as well, as his two assists at Michigan (Nov. 13) gave him five for the season (0-5-5).
multiplicity Corey Tropp started off his junior season with five multiple-point efforts in the first nine games, and has scored goals in seven of MSU's 14 contests.
multiplicity, take two Derek Grant started his college career with three straight multiple-point games, and has at least a point in 10 of 14 MSU games this season.
multiplicity, take three Blueliner Matt Crandell had the primary assist on MSU's second and third goals in the win at Michigan (Nov. 13), his first multiple-point game in his career.
among the bretheren In the CCHA overall statistics, Tropp is second in points (17) and goals (9), first in power-play goals (5) and in power-play points (10), and is tied for 12th in assists (8). Grant is eighth in points (13), tied for ninth in goals (6), and is second in power play points (9) and third in power play goals (4). Jeff Petry is tied for fifth in the conference in assists (9), is tied for fourth in defensemen scoring (10 pts) and seventh in power play points (0-6-6).
rookie kudos Zach Josepher's four-point collegiate debut vs. Clarkson (Oct. 9) is the most for an MSU freshman in his first game since both Russell Welch and James Cunningham each had a goal and three assists in an 8-1 win over Ohio State on Oct. 22, 1976. Josepher's two-goal outing in the opener was MSU's first since Matt Schepke potted two against North Dakota In the Great Lakes Invitational (Dec. 27, 2008). Josepher recorded MSU's first four-point game since Justin Abdelkader (3g, 1a) against Bowling Green on Feb. 29, 2008.
the reports of our goaltending demise have been greatly exaggerated The post-Jeff Lerg era showed that both of MSU's top two netminders are capable of winning hockey games. Drew Palmisano has drawn 11 starts (7-2-2) and owns a 1.79 GAA and .932 save percentage. Bobby Jarosz has three starts, a 2.69 GAA and .909 save percentage, and is 2-1-0.
penalty shots Andrew Rowe's penalty shot attempt on Oct. 23 against Miami was the first for the Spartans since March 16, 2007, when Justin Abdelkader had one against Michigan in the CCHA semifinals. Billy Sauer made the save. MSU's last successful penalty shot came on Dec. 9, 2006, when Chris Mueller scored against Western Michigan
goalie u Thanks to LSJ scribe Neil Koepke for this gem: 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.
the future in the present Inside College Hockey has placed freshman winger Derek Grant as No. 17 on its list of incoming forwards.
fun facts for a team you don't know well ... yet. Nick Sucharski, despite being a fifth-year senior, is not the oldest player on the MSU roster - that honor belongs to netminder Bobby Jarosz. Junior Joey Shean is also older than Sucharski, who came to campus in the fall of 2005 as a 17-year-old ... Torey Krug is the youngest player on the Spartan roster with an April 12, 1991 birthdate. He has won two national championships with Detroit Honeybaked (2003) and Indiana Ice (2009) as a teammate of fellow freshman Zach Golembiewski ... The honor of being the tallest Spartan falls to AJ Sturges (6-4), and the, ahem, least tallest is Dustin Gazley (5-8) ... Matt Grassi is the heaviest (and almost the tallest) at 6-3, 215 ... British Columbia is becoming a hotbed of college hockey recruiting, as Grassi, Kevin Walrod, and Derek Grant all hail from the provence - and Zach Josepher and Trevor Nill both played their junior hockey for Penticton in the BCHL ... Gazley was the youngest member of the 2004 US inline team that won a silver medal at World Juniors in London, Ontario and three ... Seven players were multiple-sport athletes in high school - Matt Crandell, Trevor Nill, and Brett Perlini all played soccer, while Nill, Jeff Petry, Brock Shelgren, and Dean Chelios all played baseball. Golembiewski was a scholastic golfer and graduated with his high school record for best round ... Nill is featured in this year's College of Engineering ad in the MSU hockey yearbook ...
next up MSU returns to conference action with a series at Northern Michigan on Dec. 4-5.
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