MSU Continues Homestand Against Falcons
Dec. 1, 2011
Michigan State continues its homestand with a two-game series against CCHA rival Bowling Green.
On the radio, all games will be carried by the Spartan Sports Network. Friday's contest will air on WJIM 1240 AM, while Saturday's game can be found on WVFN 730 AM. Scott Moore and Rob Woodward are in their seventh season together on the call of Spartan hockey.
Saturday's game will be shown on Comcast (Digital channel 901 in the mid-Michigan area). Friday's contest can be watched online at www.bigtennetwork.com. Live audio on the internet can be found at www.spartansportsnetwork.com. Livestats can be found at www.livestats.ath.msu.edu/hockey.
This week, the Spartan hockey players are spearheading their third annual Student-Athlete Holiday Food Drive, led by junior captain Torey Krug and junior forward Chris Forfar. On Saturday, the hockey program is asking everyone attending that evening's game against Bowling Green to bring either toiletries or non-perishable food items to donate to this worthy cause. Donation boxes will be at every entrance at Munn Arena.
MSU leads the all-time series between the teams with a 69-30-8 record. In games played in East Lansing, the Spartans lead, 38-9-3. This will be second series between the two teams played at the same site both nights since Jan. 16-17, 2004, when MSU split a pair at the Bowling Green Ice Arena. The Spartans have swept the last two series played at Munn Ice Arena - MSU swept the final regular-season series last year by 2-1 and 2-0 scores; the previous came March 8-9 2002.
The Spartans are coming off a win and a tie against No. 2/3 Minnesota this past weekend. The Spartans won Friday's game by a 4-3 margin, with Kevin Walrod scoring twice and freshmen Brent Darnell and Matt Berry getting the other scores. Seniors Mike Merrifield, Matt Crandell, Daultan Leveille, and Brock Shelgren had the scores for the Spartans, who at one point held a 3-1 advantage, but got the game-tying goal in the third period from Leveille after the Gophers rallied for three straight goals to take a 4-3 lead. Senior netminder Drew Palmisano had 75 saves in the two games last weekend, including a season-best 40 in Friday's victory.
The Falcons were swept by Alaska last weekend in Bowling Green (3-0, 2-0). The losses dropped the Falcons record to 6-8-2 on the season, with a record of 1-8-1-1 in conference play.
BG is a squad getting significant contributions from its young players - each of its top four scorers are underclassmen, and freshman Ryan Carpenter sits atop the scoring chart with a 6-8-14 scoring line. Camden Wojtala (3-10-13), Bryce Williamson (6-2-8) and Dan DeSalvo (4-3-7) round out the top four.
In net, Andrew Hammond continues to be the go-to for BG, boasting a .905 save percentage and 2.36 GAA in 15 of the Falcons' 16 games.
Freshman Justin Hoomaian (leg injury) is out of the lineup, likely through December.
Freshman Branden Carney sustained a serious neck injury in practice on Thursday, Nov. 3. Carney has feeling, movement, and strength in all extremities, but remains under the care of neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Bill. Carney will not return to play this season, but he has been released from the hospital and visited the team in Kalamazoo prior to the Spartans' game against Western Michigan on Nov. 12.
On Oct. 25, coach Tom Anastos announced that junior Zach Golembiewski had decided to end his competitive hockey career on the advice of medical professionals. Golembiewski, a winger, had appeared in 56 career games, but was advised to end his hockey career after the discovery of an underlying issue that was hindering the improvement after a back injury.
The Spartans check in at No. 16 in the USCHO.com poll, and is the top team receiving votes outside the national Top 15 in the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today poll.
Michigan State re-entered the national polls last week, at No. 20. It is the first time that MSU has appeared in either poll (USCHO.com or USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today) since Nov. 17, 2010.
The Spartans improved one spot in the conference standings with the split at Northern Michigan (Nov. 18-19), currently sitting in a seventh-place tie with Michigan. The two teams each have 12 points; MSU has the better conference winning percentage (.500), as Michigan owns a 3-5-2 record in CCHA games.
Additionally, MSU still has as many as four games in hand - eight of the CCHA's teams have played 10 conference games, while Notre Dame and Alaska have both played 12. The Spartans have only played eight.
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.
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).
Of those nine new coaches, Anastos is one of the three that faced a ranked team in his coaching debut with his new team. Providence's Nate Leaman's maiden voyage was a win over No. 17 Boston University, while Princeton's Bob Prier skated to a 2-2 tie with then-No. 3/6 Yale.
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, and is currently 4-1-1 this season. The Spartans have only the GLI remaining for non-conference tilts.
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 two with Hockey East entry Boston College - in addition to the season opener, BC is the fourth team in the GLI, and will play Michigan in the first round. The Spartans also had a two-game set against Robert Morris at Munn, and one game against Air Force for three total games against Atlantic Hockey.
This season, MSU will play 23 games against 10 teams in this week's USCHO Top 20 poll. So far, MSU is 4-4-1 in games played against current Top 20 competition, and 3-1-1 against teams ranked in the top five at the time of the game.
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.
The eight opponents MSU has played this season are a combined 59-27-13 (.661) against all other opponents, and four of them - Ohio State, Boston College, Lake Superior, and Minnesota - have 10 or more wins. The Gophers lead the country with 11 victories.
Michigan State is 7-2-1 over its last 10 games, and has rebounded nicely since a 1-3 start to the season.
The Spartans sit in a seventh-place tie in the CCHA standings, but have games in hand on the other 10 teams in the league. Eight teams have played 10 games, while Alaska and Notre Dame have each played 12. The Spartans have played just eight conference contests.
Last week's Minnesota series was MSU's first at home since Oct. 28-29. The Spartans will play nine of their next 12 contests at Munn Ice Arena, including nine of ten CCHA contests. MSU will host Bowling Green and play a home-and-home series with Michigan prior to breaking for exams and the holidays, will play in the GLI, then have three straight CCHA weekends at home to start January (Miami, Northern Michigan, and Lake Superior).
Last year, the Spartans employed 60 different forward line combinations in search of consistent scoring. Through 14 games - a third of the season - there have been 18 different combinations this fall.
MSU's most productive line through the first seven games is the trio of Dean Chelios, Lee Reimer, and Greg Wolfe, who had a combined 8-9-17 scoring line (-2) in those games. When Chelios got hurt in the first game of the RMU series, he was replaced on the wing by Mike Merrifield - and with Reimer and Wolfe, that line has produced 11-19-30 (+35) in the last six games.
On defense, MSU has used the same three pairings for 13 of the 14 games. Torey Krug and Brock Shelgren are a combined +13 with a 6-121817 scoring line this season. Matt Crandell and Tim Buttery have a 2-7-9 scoring line.
MSU has been outshot this season in eight of 12 games, and overall, MSU is -34 in total shots, an average just under three per game.
MSU outshot its opponents in just 14 of 38 games last season, including holding its opponents to 20 shots or less four times.
The MSU penalty kill was 6-of-7 in each of its last two series against Northern Michigan and Minnesota; on the season, MSU is now 51-for-58 (.879) on the penalty kill, which is fifth in the CCHA and 11th nationally.
On the man advantage, MSU is 9-of-55 (16.4%), and ranks seventh in the league. The Spartans were a combined 0-for-7 on the power play against the Wildcats, and 1-for-5 against the Gophers.
MSU's power play has struggled over the last seven games, going 2-for-23 (.087) on the man advantage after going 7-for-33 (.212) in the first seven contests. In the first two CCHA series against Lake Superior and Ohio State, MSU was 5-for-18 (.277).
Michigan State was swept for the first time this season on the road at Lake Superior (Oct. 14-15). Since then, the Spartans have registered two weekend sweeps of their own, against Robert Morris (Oct. 28-29), and Western Michigan (Nov. 11-12).
In 2010-11, MSU recorded its first and only sweep of the season in the final regular-season weekend against Bowling Green.
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 4-4-11 in overtime games dating back to the start of the 2009-10 season (1-0-1 this year).
Compared to a year ago at this time, the Spartans have improved their offensive output by nearly a full goal per game - in 15 games prior to Dec. 1, 2010, the Spartans averaged 2.6 goals per game (39 total), and owned a 5-7-3 overall record. In the first two months of this season, the Spartans have scored 47 goals, an average of 3.4 per contest - good for second in the CCHA and 14th nationally.
In its last 10 contests, MSU has scored first eight times; on the season, MSU is 6-2-1 when scoring first and 2-3-0 when allowing its opponent to do so.
In 2010-11, the Spartans were 14-5-3 when scoring the first goal, and an alarming 1-14- 1 when letting its opponent score first.
Through 14 games, there are 19 skaters who have appeared in six games or more. Of those 19 players, 18 have at least two points, and 16 have at least a goal.
This season, MSU has scored less than twice in any game just one time - the Nov. 19 game at Northern Michigan (2-1).
Last season, MSU was shut out five times and scored once in five other games. Currently, MSU is second in the CCHA and 14th nationally, averaging 3.4 goals per game.
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.
Senior Drew Palmisano is the most recent Spartan honoree as a CCHA weekly honoree, garnering the conference's Goaltender of the Week honors on Monday, Nov. 28 for his performance against Minnesota. He stopped 75 of 82 shots against in a win and tie against the No. 2/3 Gophers.
Senior defenseman Brock Shelgren and sophomore goaltender Will Yanakeff were named the CCHA Defensive Player and Goaltender of the Week, respectively, after the Nov. 11-12 Western Michigan series.
Shelgren had a team-best eight blocked shots - including a career-best seven on Friday - in the Spartans' sweep of the Broncos. Shelgren was a +4 on the weekend and contributed three assists, including the helper on the game-winner in Saturday's contest.
Yanakeff made a career-best 38 saves in Friday's victory, and another 28 on Saturday in helping the Spartans to a two-game road sweep WMU. On the weekend, Yanakeff stopped 66 of 70 shots against (.943). The sophomore has won three straight starts.
Lee Reimer was named the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 31. Reimer had a hat trick and a five-point night in Saturday's win over Robert Morris (6-2), which came on the heels of a two-assist effort in Friday's 5-2 victory. Reimer's seven-point, +7 effort is far and away his career best for a single weekend's offensive output. Reimer and his linemates combined for nine goals and 14 assists (23 points) on the weekend, and were a +22.
The Spartans continue to get offense from the Wolfe-Reimer-Merrifield line. The trio combined for a 2-2-4 scoring line at NMU (+7) against Western Michigan. All three had lengthy point-scoring streaks come to an end on Saturday against the Wildcats, as Matt Berry scored the lone Spartan goal. Reunited in MSU's most recent contest against Minnesota, the trio combined for a goal and five assists (+3).
Sophomore Lee Reimer ranks 17th nationally in points per game (1.29), and 15th in assists per game (0.86). He ranks third in the league in points, behind TJ Tynan and Anders Lee of Notre Dame (but has played two less games). He is second in the league in overall assists to Tynan (18) as well.
Mike Merrifield ranks fourth in the league in goals (8), and his .80 goals per game would rank sixth nationally; however, because he missed the first four games of the season, he has not played in the requisite 75% of his team's games to be ranked.
Mike Merrifield has had eight goals over the last eight contests. His five-game goal-scoring streak earlier in the season is the first time in his career that he has had goals in back-to-back games, let alone a multiple-game streak.
Reimer is third in the league in scoring (17 points), ranks second in assists (12), and ranks 14th in goals (6). while Wolfe is tied for sixth in points (14) and fourth in assists (10). Merrifield is third in the league in goals (8) and leads the CCHA in game-winning tallies (3). Torey Krug ranks fifth league defensemen in scoring with a 4-5-9 line, while partner Brock Shelgren is 11th (2-6-8).
Brett Perlini is eighth in assists (9) and tenth in power play points (6), Matt Berry is 11th in freshman scoring (3-4-7), and Will Yanakeff is fifth in the CCHA in save percentage (.920)
Brent Darnell earned his first collegiate point with an assist on Torey Krug's goal against Northern Michigan on Nov. 18. He turned around and scored his first collegiate tally a week later against Minnesota (Nov. 25).
Lee Reimer's hat trick against Robert Morris on Oct. 29 was the first of the season for the Spartans, and the first since Torey Krug scored three times in a 4-3 overtime victory over Michigan at Munn last January. They are the only two active players with hat tricks.
With 14 points (4g, 8a), Greg Wolfe has bettered his freshman year total of 11 points. Lee Reimer owns a 6-11-17 scoring line, and has already well eclipsed his freshman season total of seven points (2g, 5a).
Mike Merrifield had a 4-4-8 line last season, and career numbers of 6-6-12 in two and a half seasons on the Spartan roster. After missing the first four games with injury, he has now appeared in eight games this season, he has surpassed his career goal total (8) and currently has a 8-4-12 scoring line, better than his junior-season numbers and tying his career point total.
The most recent member of the career-best club is senior Brock Shelgren, who owns a 2-6-8 scoring line and is 11th in the league in defenseman scoring; his previous best single-season point total was seven points as a junior, and he has tied his single-season assist mark (6). Shelgren is half way to his three-season total of 16 points (5g, 11a).
Junior Kevin Walrod had his third career two-goal game (and second of the season) on Nov. 25 against Minnesota. The winger has eight career goals, and six of them have come in his three two-goal efforts. He has two games with a single goal.
Lee Reimer has been MSU's top faceoff man, with 177 wins and 121 losses (.594).
Freshman Matt Berry had his first back-to-back games with a goal, netting the game-winner on Friday against the Gophers. He also had the lone MSU score last Saturday night in the previous game, a loss at Northern Michigan.
Torey Krug and Brett Shelgren, who have been MSU's top defensive pair in 13 of 14 games, have a combined 68 of MSU's 209 blocked shots this season, ranking first and second individually (Krug has 27, Shelgren 41). Tim Buttery has 22 blocks, and Matt Crandell 21.
Drew Palmisano's Oct. 20 shutout of Ohio State was his second straight over the Buckeyes. Alex Szczechura's second-period goal in the second game of the series snapped Palmisano's personal shutout streak of 145:01 against Ohio State, dating back to last season. Palmisano owns four career shutouts: the two of OSU, one of Nebraska-Omaha, and one of Michigan.
Will Yanakeff's 38 saves against Western Michigan on Nov. 11 was a career-best performance for the sophomore. His previous high was 37, which came against Michigan on Jan. 7, 2011. Drew Palmisano made a season-best 40 saves in a 4-3 win over Minnesota on Nov. 25. His career best is 46 stops, against Michigan on Jan. 29 of his freshman season.
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; he has maintained that he does not have a strict philosophy, and that the play of the goalies during the week and the previous games will determine who gets the start.
Drew Palmisano opened the season with 30 saves against the aggressive, talented Boston College offense, and last week had 40 and 35 saves in a win and tie against Minnesota (his 24th and 25th games at MSU with 30+ saves). Palmisano has played seven of MSU's 14 games, and owns a 3-3-1 record, 2.98 GAA and .906 save percentage.
Will Yanakeff played in each of MSU's first four games in November, and was the CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Nov. 7. In seven games this season, he owns a 2.44 GAA and .920 save percentage, and a 5-2-0 mark on the season.
Brett Perlini is expected to play in his 100th career game on Saturday against Bowling Green. He would be the fourth player this season to reach the milestone: Trevor Nill skated in his 100th career game on Nov. 18, Tim Buttery played in his 100th career game against Ohio State on Oct. 20, Brock Shelgren did it in the season opener vs. Boston College; Daultan Leveille (124 games) and Matt Crandell (122) registered their 100th last season.
Senior Brett Perlini had a goal and two assists on Oct. 14, pushing him to the 50-point plateau; he currently sits at 57 career points. Junior blueliner Torey Krug surpassed the 50-point mark with a goal and an assist in the same game - he now has a 18-40-58 scoring line in just over two seasons.
Krug is the team's second-leading active career scorer - only Daultan Leveille (25-40-65) is ahead of him.
Greg Wolfe and Lee Reimer each have points in eight of MSU's 14 games this season, a best for the team. Brett Perlini and Brock Shelgren each have points in seven games, while Mike Merrifield, Matt Berry, and Torey Krug each have points in six games.
MSU senior alternate captain Trevor Nill is a nominee for the BNY Mellon Wealth Management Hockey Humanitarian Award for the second consecutive year.
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 Hockey Humanitarian 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.
Olympia Entertainment in partnership with Michigan State University and the University of Michigan announced Monday that the agreement which ensures a Spartans-Wolverines game is held annually at Joe Louis Arena has been extended through the 2013-14 hockey season.
The archrivals have squared off in regular season action at JLA in at least once per year since 1990, with Michigan having earned ten victories to Michigan State's nine over that time; four of the games ended in a tie.
MSU had 11 former skaters on 2011 opening-night rosters in the National Hockey League, and 14 players have played at least one game in the NHL this season: Ryan Miller and Corey Tropp (Buffalo), Drew Miller and Justin Abdelkader (Detroit), Tim Kennedy and Mike Weaver (Florida). Jim Slater (Winnipeg), Shawn Horcoff, Jeff Petry and Corey Potter (Edmonton), David Booth (Vancouver), Duncan Keith (Chicago), Adam Hall (Tampa), and John-Michael Liles (Toronto).
Pre-holiday play concludes on Dec. 9-10, when MSU will play a home-and-home with archrival Michigan.
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