Hockey Hosts No. 1 Minnesota in Big Ten Opener
Spartans and Gophers will meet at 7 p.m. on Friday and at 4 p.m. on Saturday.
Dec. 5, 2013
Weekly Press Conference
Head Coach Tom Anastos
On The Fly...
Michigan State begins a new era as it hosts Minnesota in its inaugural Big Ten series this weekend at Munn Ice Arena ... It will be the first of 10 Big Ten series and 20 regular-season games this season.
MSU enters the weekend coming off a two-game sweep of Princeton (4-1, 8-2) last weekend at home ... The eight goals on Sunday were the most in the Tom Anastos-era and the two-game total of 12 were the most since Dec. 29-30, 2009 at the GLI when MSU defeated Michigan Tech, 10-1, and RPI, 6-1.
After scoring a total of five power-play goals in their first 10 contests of this season, the Spartans went a combined 4-for-12 on the power play in the two games against Princeton, including getting three goals in Sunday's 8-2 win, which were their most since they had four goals on the man-advantage in a 6-1 win over Bowling Green on Nov. 3, 2012.
MSU ranks second in the nation in blocks per game with an average of 17.33 ... MSU blocked a combined 41 shots (21 & 20) in last weekend's series ... The Spartans have blocked at least 20 shots in five of 12 games this season.
Travis Walsh leads MSU in blocks with 27 and his 2.25 blocks per game average is tied for 20th nationally.
Redshirt freshman Brock Krygier leads MSU in plus/minus this season with a plus-9 rating, which ranks in a tie for eighth among all freshmen nationally ... Krygier has been a plus or even-player in nine of 12 games.
MSU has dressed no fewer than a total of 12 freshmen or sophomores in all 12 games this season ... Including games where sophomore Jake Hildebrand has started in goal, the Spartans have played at least 12 first or second-year players in 11 of 12 games.
Since yielding eight power-play goals in the first five games of the year, MSU has held opponents to just 3-for-29 (.103) on the man-advantage over the last seven games.
The Spartans have had at least 40 shots on goal in three games this season after having 40+ shots just once in 42 contests in 2012-13.
A season-high 15 different Spartans had a point in Sunday's win ... A total of 12 Spartans picked up points in both games of last weekend's sweep of Princeton.
Greg Wolfe and Villiam Haag both scored a pair of goals in the Spartans' 8-2 win over Princeton, marking the first time MSU had two, two-goal scorers in a game since Lee Reimer (3-2=5) and Mike Merrifield (2-2=4) on Oct. 29, 2011 in a 6-2 win over Robert Morris.
Mackenzie MacEachern (Nov. 3 vs. AIC) is the other Spartan with a two-goal game this season.
Linemates Mackenzie MacEachern and Thomas Ebbing both enter Friday's game with season-high three-game point streaks. MacEachern had a goal vs. Western Michigan (No. 23) and Princeton (Nov. 29) and then had a season-high three assists in the 8-2 win over the Tigers. Ebbing had assists vs. Western Michigan (No. 23) and Princeton (Nov. 29) before scoring his first-career goal, and adding a helper, last Sunday.
MacEACHERN AND EBBING CONNECTION
True freshmen Mackenzie MacEachern (5-3=8) and Thomas Ebbing (1-5=6) have played together in all 12 games this season and have been linemates since high school at Birmingham Brother Rice. The two also played together in juniors last year with the Chicago Steel in the U.S. Hockey League. So far this season, Ebbing has assisted on four of MacEachern's five goals.
HILDY STEPS UP
Sophomore goaltender Jake Hildebrand had his best two-game stretch of the season last weekend vs. Princeton. The Butler, Pa., native stopped 53 of 56 shots, posting a 1.50 GAA and .946 save percentage in the two weekend games. His 31 saves in the Nov. 29 win were the most by a Spartan goaltender in a win this season and the most by Hildebrand in a win since he had 34 vs. Miami on March 15 last season.
Hildebrand has started the last four games and over that time has lowered his GAA from 2.81 to 2.57 entering Friday's game.
Thomas Ebbing, Mackenzie MacEachern and Villiam Haag played together in both games last weekend, combining for four goals and six assists. It marked the third time this season, and first since Oct. 25 vs. UMass-Lowell, that the rookie trio has skated together. Their 11 total points when playing together this season is the third most for any MSU line combination this season.
Dean Chelios, Mike Ferrantino and Joe Cox have played on the same line in six games this season, combining for 13 points (5-8). When playing together this season, MSU is 5-1 and the line has a team-high combined plus/minus rating of plus-14.
THE LAST FIRST SERIES
Michigan State's last conference debut came on Oct. 23-24, 1981 when it hosted Lake Superior State in its initial Central Collegiate Hockey Association series. The Spartans took both games from the Lakers that weekend, 4-3 and 3-2 (OT).
STRONG IN THE CIRCLE
Michigan State has won more faceoffs than its opponents in eight of 12 games this season. Three of four Spartan centers that have played at least eight games have a faceoff winning percentage of .500 or better: Mike Ferrantino - .569 (70-53), Lee Reimer - .568 (126-96) and Matt DeBlouw - .514 (56-53).
The senior class has provided strong leadership so far this season, including on the score sheet where four seniors have combined 35% of the team's points. Greg Wolfe (7-3=10), Jake Chelios (2-6=8), Lee Reimer (2-6=8) and Dean Chelios (0-6=6) have contributed 32 of 91 team points this season.
WOLFE CONTINUES TO LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Senior Greg Wolfe leads the team in scoring with seven goals and 10 points. He has been held pointless just twice in 12 games this season.
Senior defenseman Jake Chelios' six assists this season are tied with Lee Reimer for the team lead and surpass last season's total. He had a career-best three in the 3-1 win over Boston University.
...IS ALSO THE IRON MAN
Jake Chelios is one of 10 players in the nation to have appeared in at least 120 consecutive games. He enters this weekend with a streak of 128 consecutive games played.
THE MUNN ADVANTAGE
Since its opening in Nov. 1974, Munn Ice Arena has provided the Spartans with an undeniable advantage. Now in its 39th season as the home of MSU hockey, Spartan teams have compiled a dominating 522-196-58 (.710) record in the building, including a 5-2 mark this season.
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.
True freshmen Mackenzie MacEachern (5-3=8), Joe Cox (4-2=6), Thomas Ebbing (1-5=6), Villiam Haag (3-2=5), and JT Stenglein (1-0=1) have combined for 26 points so far this season, which equates to 28.6% of the team's total points.
THE BIG TEN BEGINS
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.
The Spartans will host Ferris State next Saturday at 7 p.m. in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Game.