Spartans Travel to South Bend
Dec. 5, 2012
Michigan State has a large challenge ahead as it looks to snap a four-game winless streak against No. 4/5 Notre Dame this weekend. MSU plays a two-game set in South Bend on Friday and Saturday, both at 7:05 p.m.
The Irish are the top-ranked defensive team in the CCHA, allowing 1.67 goals per game. The offensively-challenged Spartans, who have scored just three goals in their last four games, will have a tall task ahead.
MSU owns a 60-39-4 record all-time against the Irish, a series that became considerably closer due to MSU's 11-game winless streak against Notre Dame that dated back to January 2008 (0-8-3). The Spartans snapped that streak with a win in the final regular-season game last February, a 4-2 win. MSU is 22-25-7 all-time in games played in South Bend.
Michigan State Director of Hockey Operations Adam Nightingale and Notre Dame volunteer assistant coach Jason Nightingale are brothers. Jason played at Lake Superior State, and Adam played two years at LSSU before transferring to Michigan State and serving as a team alternate captain. Their youngest brother, Jared, also played at Michigan State and was an alternate captain, and is currently playing for the Syracuse Crunch (AHL).
Notre Dame head coach Jeff Jackson is a 1978 Michigan State graduate.
GENERAL TEAM NOTES
MSU is currently winless in its last four games, the longest such streak under Tom Anastos. MSU's longest winless streak last season was three games, all at the end of the year - in the CCHA Quarterfinals and the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Spartans split each of their three CCHA series, but have not come away with a win in either of their last two conference weekends - a tie and a loss at Miami, and a sweep by Ohio State last weekend at Munn.
Last weekend, the Spartans were dealt a pair of losses by Big Ten foe Ohio State. On Friday, the teams battled through 57 scoreless minutes before an opportunistic Ryan Dzingel pounced on a loose puck at 17:47 to deliver his team a 1-0 victory. On Saturday, MSU took a first-period lead, then allowed two second-period markers. MSU's last grasp at an equalizer - a 6-on-4 power play with Hildebrand on the bench - was nullified by a blunder at the blue line that led to an empty-netter and a 3-1 Buckeye victory.
MSU was shut out in back-to-back games against Miami (2-0, Nov. 17) and Ohio State (1-0, Nov. 30). It was just the third time in program history that the Spartans were shut out in consecutive games. The Spartans have never been shut out in back-to-back games on the same weekend.
Freshman Jake Hildebrand made both starts, his fourth and fifth consecutive nods. He stopped 53 of the 56 shots he faced on the weekend. He is the first freshman to make five consecutive starts since Jeff Lerg in 2005-06, who's first five consecutive starts came in January that season.
MSU has won on a Friday night just once this season, a come-from-behind victory over Niagara at home.
Eight of MSU's next 10 games are against Notre Dame and Ferris State (four each). The other two games are in the Great Lakes Invitational against Western Michigan and either Michigan or Michigan Tech.
MSU has played eight of 14 games on the road so far this season, and five of the next six are also away from Munn Ice Arena. Remaining on the schedule through the rest of 2012 are overnight trips to Notre Dame (Dec. 7-8), and the Great Lakes Invitational (Dec. 29-30). After January 1, the Spartans have just one overnight road trip remaining in the regular season - when they play at Alaska (Feb. 22-23).
Over the last two-plus 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 in 2010-11. MSU is now 1-0-1 in 2012-13, with a January series against future Big Ten foe Penn State on the docket.
Boston College head coach Jerry York earned his 924th career victory last Saturday over archrival Boston University. He has tied former MSU mentor and college hockey's all-time wins leader Ron Mason. York looks to make the record all his own when his Eagles take on Providence on Friday night.
At the game against Michigan on Nov. 10, a new Munn Ice Arena attendance figure of 7,225 was achieved, bettering the previous record of 7,121 set on March 1, 2001 - also against the Wolverines.
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 is no longer receiving votes in the USCHO.com Top 20 poll or the USA Hockey Magazine poll (top 15).
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.
Tom Anastos owns a 23-24-5 overall record in his second 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.
With the cancellation of the NHL Winter Classic, the Great Lakes Invitational has been moved back indoors, and will be played on Dec. 29-30 at its usual site, Joe Louis Arena.
Another side effect of the cancellation of the Winter Classic is that MSU wore its script "Michigan State" logo jerseys in the Saturday game vs. Michigan (Nov. 10). The Spartans had planned on 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's penalty kill has extinguished 18 straight chances against, including going a perfect 7-for-7 in the Miami series (which included killing off a five-minute major in the second game) and 5-for-5 against Ohio State. MSU is 51-for-58 (87.9%) on the season, which is 11th nationally and third in the CCHA.
MSU's power play is 12-of-55, (21.8%), and is second in the CCHA and 11th in the country. The Spartans were 0-for-6 in the Ohio State series with a man advantage, and gave up a shorthanded (empty-net) goal.
MSU is one of five schools to have both its power play and penalty kill ranked in the top 15. Union, Minnesota, St. Lawrence, and Boston College are the others.
MSU scored four power-play goals in a 6-1 win over Bowling Green on Nov. 3. The last game for MSU in which it scored four power-play goals was Feb. 26, 2005 - a 6-3 win over Bowling Green at Munn Ice Arena in which MSU went 4-for-11 on the man advantage.
Matt Berry has four goals and four assists on the man advantage, and his eight power-play points ranks first in the CCHA. Tanner Sorenson (2g, 2a), Lee Reimer Greg Wolfe (1-3-4) and Matt DeBlouw (0-4-4) are all tied for 15th in the league in power play points.
Berry's four goals on the man advantage is tied for first in the CCHA and tied for third nationally.
TRENDS, STREAKS, AND TENDENCIES
Michigan State has scored 14 of its 31 goals this season in the third period. Conversely, 28 of the 39 the Spartans have allowed have come in the first or second period.
Matt Berry has points in five of MSU's 14 games, but four of those five games have been multiple-point efforts. Twelve of Berry's 13 points have come in the last nine games, including two four-point outings. He does not have a point in any of MSU's last three games.
Freshman centerman Michael Ferrantino had his team-best four-game point-scoring streak snapped with the shutout at Miami on Nov. 17.
NUMBERS DON'T LIE
MSU has allowed its opponent to score first in 10 of its 14 games this season; MSU is 3-1-0 when scoring first and 1-7-2 when allowing the first goal.
Fifteen skaters have appeared in all 14 games for MSU, and each of them have at least one point on the season.
Seven different players have each had at least two multiple-point games each this season: John Draeger, Tanner Sorenson, Matt DeBlouw, Brent Darnell, Matt Berry, Lee Reimer, and Greg Wolfe. Berry (four) and Darnell (three) lead the team in multiple-point efforts.
The Spartans have been shut out three times in eight games in the month of November.
MSU is 0-8-1 when scoring two goals or fewer.
On three occasions, the Spartans have allowed just one goal - but are 1-2-0 in those games. MSU has suffered 1-0 losses to both Bowling Green and Ohio State.
Senior forward Dean Chelios (upper body) had season-ending surgery in November will miss the 2012-13 season with injury. He plans to redshirt and return as a senior in 2013-14, when his brother, Jake, will also be a senior.
Freshman defenseman Rhett Holland (upper body) was injured in the Oct. 26 game against Lake Superior State. He has had season-ending surgery and will also plan on applying for a medical redshirt.
Freshman forward Ryan Keller (upper body) was injured in practice on Oct. 24. He missed the first four CCHA series against Lake Superior, Bowling Green, Michigan, and Miami. He returned briefly last weekend against Ohio State, but missed Saturday's game due to the same injury.
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.
The Spartans have been in each of their last four games thanks to the emergence of freshman goalie Jake Hildebrand. He ranks second in the CCHA in save percentage and third in goals-against average. He has started the last five games for MSU.
Hildebrand has four losses on the season, and the Spartans have scored just one goal in those four games combined.
Senior Chris Forfar's first-period goal against Ohio State on Saturday halted an MSU scoreless streak that reached 165:27 - dating back to the Nov. 16 game at Miami. Unfortunately, it was the only score for the Spartans in the contest, as they fell 3-1.
Jake Hildebrand had an assist on Forfar's tally, which was his first of the season. It was Hildebrand's first collegiate point
Sophomore Matt Berry is tied for fifth in the league in scoring (13 points) and is tied for fourth in the league in goals scored (7).
Berry leads the league and ranks in a tie for third nationally in power-play goals (4), and is atop the league leaderboard in power play points (8).
Matt DeBlouw's four goals and seven assists (11 points) has him second among CCHA freshmen in points behind Miami's Riley Barber (6-12-18). He ranks 15th nationally in points per game by freshmen (0.79 ppg).
Freshman goalie Jake Hildebrand, who drew the last five starts for MSU, ranks eighth nationally and third in the CCHA in GAA (1.76). His .942 save percentage finds him second in the CCHA and fourth nationally.
MSU played both goaltenders in each of its first three CCHA series, but Hildebrand has drawn each of the last five starts.
Tanner Sorenson had a 2-6-8 scoring line last year as a freshman. Through 14 games, he owns a 3-4-7 line in his sophomore season. He had six points in the first six games of the year.
MSU's 27-man roster averages 6-0, 195 lbs.
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