Rivalry Week: Spartans Take on UM
Dec. 7, 2011
MSU prepares a home-and-home series with Michigan this weekend. Arguably the fierciest rivalry in the sport of college hockey, the teams face off for the 285th time on Friday evening.
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.
Friday's will be shown on FS Detroit Plus, channel 901 in the mid-Michigan area. FS Plus can be found on DirecTV channel 664, and on Dish Network channel 449. Ken Daniels, Darren Eliot, and Shannon Hogan are on the Fox Broadcast.
Saturday's game will air live on the Big Ten Network, with Dan Kelley, Rob Andringa, and Lisa Byington. The Big Ten Network can be found on DirecTV ch. 610 and Dish Network ch. 439.
Live audio on the internet can be found at www.spartansportsnetwork.com. http://cstvpodcast.cstv.com.edgesuite.net/michiganstate/120611_Krug.mp3Livestats can be found at www.livestats.ath.msu.edu/hockey.
Michigan State trails the all-time series with the Wolverines by a 124-142-18 margin, and the teams split the season series last year, 2-2. Both teams hold the advantage in their own rinks: The Spartans hold a 62-48-9 advantage in East Lansing, while in Ann Arbor, Michigan holds a 70-43-4 edge.
The last 11 years has been the closest in the history of the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry. The all-time series is tied, 21-21-10, since the start of the 2000-01 season, and over the last two years, the series has been split evenly between the two teams - 3-3 in 2009-10, and 2-2 last season.
With this series now at 284 games played between the two rivals, this is the most-played rivalry in college hockey - and certainly qualifies among the most heated.
College Hockey's Most-Played Rivalries (through 2010-11) Teams First Gm. GP Series Michigan State vs Michigan 1922 284 UM: 142-124-18
Michigan has won 142 games in this series, but 41 of those wins came between 1922 and 1957. The Spartans recorded only two victories in that span.
There is a five-game discrepancy between MSU and U-M's all-time series records, tracing back to a discrepancy in records from the early 1920's. The MSU records have four more Wolverine victories and one for the Spartans.
The Spartans are coming off a sweep of Bowling Green last weekend, their second consecutive serires sweep of the Falcons.
On Friday, four players had a goal and an assist and senior blueliner Matt Crandell had three helpers as No. 16 MSU downed Bowling Green, 5-1, in the first game of a two-game set at Munn Ice Arena. Drew Palmisano made 21 saves.
On Saturday, three more players had a goal and an assist while Will Yanakeff made 20 stops in the Spartan net in a 4-1 victory. MSU had a slim 2-1 lead heading in to the third period, then put the game out of reach with a pair of third-period markers.
Unranked Michigan comes into this week's series with an 8-8-2 record, and snapped a seven-game winless streak (0-5-2) with a 1-0 overtime win last Saturday at Alaska. The Wolverines were ranked No. 1 early this season, but have won just four times in their last 14 games after a 4-0-0 start to the season.
The leading scorer for Michigan is freshman Phil DiGiuseppe, who has an 8-6-14 scoring line in 18 contests; however, he will not be available to Michigain in Saturday's contest due to the Canadian World Junior Camp. Junior Chris Brown is second on the scoring chart with four goals and 10 assists, and classmate AJ Treais has a 6-7-13 line. Redshirt senior Shawn Hunwick owns a .923 save percentage and 2.34 GAA.
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. 14 in both the USCHO.com poll and the USA Hockey Magazine/USA Today survey. It is the highest ranking for the Spartans this season. Michigan is unranked.
The Spartans improved one spot in the conference standings with the sweep of Bowling Green last week, and currently sit in sixth place with 18 points.
Additionally, MSU still has as many as four games in hand - 10 of the CCHA's teams have played 12 conference games, while Alaska has played 14. The Spartans have only played 10. MSU has two games remaining with four of the five teams ahead of it in the conference standings: Ohio State, Notre Dame, Lake Superior, and Ferris State.
MSU recorded its 10th victory of the season last Saturday. It is the earliest MSU has owned 10 victories since the 2007-08 season, when win No. 10 came on Dec. 1 vs. LSSU.
MSU is one of five teams in the CCHA with 10 victories. Ohio State leads the pack with 12.
MSU is now 8-1-1 in its last 10 games since a 2-4-0 start.
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 in 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 18 games against seven 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 nine opponents MSU has played this season are a combined 88-44-16 (.648) this season, and four of them - Ohio State, Boston College, Lake Superior, and Minnesota - have 10 or more wins. The Gophers lead the country with 13 victories.
Thanksgiving week's Minnesota series was MSU's first at home since Oct. 28-29. The Spartans just wrapped up four straight home games, and will play seven of their next 10 contests at Munn Ice Arena, including seven of eight CCHA contests. The games away from Munn will be played Friday at Yost, then the two games in the GLI at Joe Louis Arena.
After the GLI, MSU will 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 16 games - more than a third of the season - there have been 18 different combinations this fall, and the same lines and defensive pairings have been used for the last three games.
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 contests. 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 13-22-35 (+37) in their last eight games.
On defense, MSU has used the same three pairings for 15 of the 16 games. Torey Krug and Brock Shelgren are a combined +20 with a 6-14-20 scoring line this season. Matt Crandell and Tim Buttery have a 2-11-13 scoring line.
The Spartans have not only improved their offensive output over the impressive ten-game streak (8-1-1), but have significantly improved their defense. In the opening 2-4-0 stretch, the Spartans averaged 2.0 goals for and 3.33 against in those games. In the 8-1-1 stretch,MSU has averaged four goals per game, and cut its goals allowed to 2.19 per contest. In the Robert Morris, Western Michigan, and Northern Michigan series, the Spartans allowed exactly two goals per game to each opponent. Against BG, the Spartans allowed just one goal each night.
MSU has been outshot this season in eight of 16 games, and overall, MSU is -45 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 a perfect 7-for-7 against BG after going 6-of-7 in its previous two series against Northern Michigan and Minnesota; on the season, MSU is now 58-of-65 (.892) on the penalty kill, which is second in the CCHA and fourth nationally.
On the man advantage, MSU is 20-of-63 (15.9%), and ranks seventh in the league.
MSU's power play has struggled over the last nine games, going 3-for-30 (.100) 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 three weekend sweeps of their own, against Robert Morris (Oct. 28-29), Western Michigan (Nov. 11-12), and Bowling Green (Dec. 2-3). In 2010-11, MSU recorded its first and only sweep of the season in the final regular-season weekend against Bowling Green. MSU had four series sweeps in 2009-10, and none in 2008-09.
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).
MSU's current average of 3.5 goals for per game and 2.56 goals against per game is comparable to the 2007-08 team's success at the same point of the season - that squad also scored 56 goals through its first 16 games, but allowed two more (43 goals against, compared to the 41 allowed by the current squad). Since that season, MSU has averaged 1.56, 2.87, and 2.6 goals per game over its first 16 contests. Defensively, the 2009-10 team allowed just 2.0 goals per game through its first 16 contests - the only team to allow less than MSU's current 41 allowed.
In its last eight contests, MSU has scored first seven times; on the season, MSU is 8-2-1 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 16 games, there are 19 skaters who have appeared in six games or more. Of those 19 players, 18 have at least two points, and 17 have at least a goal.
This season, MSU has scored less than twice in any game just one time - the Nov. 19 game at NMU (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 ninth nationally, averaging 3.5 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.
Freshman winger Brent Darnell was named the CCHA Rookie of the Week after a four-point performance in the Spartans' sweep of Bowling Green. Darnell is the fifth different Spartan to earn weekly honors this year, but is the first freshman to secure the award this season.
Darnell had a goal and three assists (+3) for the Spartans as they swept the Falcons, their third series sweep of the season and second of a CCHA opponent. Darnell had multiple-point outings both nights, setting up Dean Chelios' game-winning tallies each night, and also garnering a goal of his own on Friday. They were his first two career multiple-point games.
Senior Drew Palmisano earned 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 line of Kevin Walrod, Brett Perlini, and freshman Matt Berry each had a goal and an assist on Friday, as the line turned in a combined 3-3-6 scoring line (+6). On Saturday, the line of Dean Chelios, Daultan Leveille, and Brent Darnell combined for a 2-3-5 line (+3), while the Mike Merrifield- Lee Reimer-Greg Wolfe trio had the same scoring numbers and were a +2
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 second in the league in scoring (20 points), ranks second in assists (13), and ranks 13th in goals (7). while Wolfe is tied for sixth in points (16) and fourth in assists (11). Merrifield is sixth in the league in goals (8) and leads the CCHA in game-winning tallies (3). Torey Krug ranks fourth among league defensemen in scoring with a 4-7-11 line, and seventh in power-play goals.
Brett Perlini is sixth in assists (10) and tenth in points (14), Matt Berry is eighth in freshman scoring (4-5-9), and Will Yanakeff is fifth in the CCHA in save percentage (.923)
Brent Darnell earned his first collegiate point with an assist on Torey Krug's goal against Northern Michigan on Nov. 18, the 11th game of the season. He turned around and scored his first collegiate tally a week later against Minnesota (Nov. 25). Darnell has a personal-best four-game point-scoring streak, has seven points in six games, and had multiple-point efforts in both games against Bowling Green.
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.
Kevin Walrod's six goals and three assists gives him a career -best nine points this season. He is the fifth Spartan to check in with a career-best offensive season.
With 16 points (5g, 11a), Greg Wolfe has bettered his freshman year total of 11 points. Lee Reimer owns a 7-13-20 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 10 games this season, he has surpassed his career goal total (8) and currently has a 8-5-13 scoring line, better than his junior-season numbers and tying his career point total. On the defensive side. senior Brock Shelgren owns a 2-6-8 scoring line and is 15th 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 nine career goals, and six of them have come in his three two-goal efforts. He has three games with a single goal.
Lee Reimer has been MSU's top faceoff man, with 194 wins and 140 losses (.581).
Freshman Matt Berry had his first back-to-back games with a goal, netting the game-winner in the Nov. 25 against the Gophers. He also had the lone MSU score in a loss at Northern Michigan on Nov. 19.
Torey Krug and Brett Shelgren, who have been MSU's top defensive pair in 15 of 16 games, have a combined 75 of MSU's 232 blocked shots this season, ranking first and second individually (Krug has 30, Shelgren 45). Tim Buttery has 25 blocks, and Matt Crandell 24.
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 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 eight of MSU's 14 games, and owns a 4-3-1 record, 2.73 GAA and .910 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 eight games this season, he owns a 2.26 GAA and .923 save percentage, and a 6-2-0 mark on the season.
Brett Perlini played in his 100th career game last Saturday against Bowling Green. He is 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.
The next likely players to reach the milestone are juniors Torey Krug and Chris Forfar - each have played in 91 games headed into the Michigan series.
Greg Wolfe and Lee Reimer each have points in nine of MSU's 16 games this season, a best for the team. Torey Krug and Brett Perlini each have points in eight, while Brock Shelgren, Mike Merrifield, Daultan Leveille, Dean Chelios, and Matt Berry all have points in seven 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.
Tom Anastos has announced that three players signed National Letters of Intent in the fall signing period and will join the Spartans in the fall of 2012. Forward Ryan Keller (Farmington Hills, Mich./Sioux Falls (USHL), Defenseman John Draeger (Faribault, Minn./Shattuck St. Mary's) and goaltender Jake Hildebrand (Butler, PA/Cedar Rapids (USHL) will join three previous signees - forward Matt DeBlouw (Chesterfield, Mich./Muskegon USHL) and defensemen Rhett Holland (Calgary, Alberta / Okotoks (AJHL) and Travis Walsh (Lansing, Mich./Muskegon (USHL) on the Spartan roster for next season.
MSU had 11 former skaters on 2011 opening-night rosters in the National Hockey League, and 15 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), Chris Mueller (Nashville) and John-Michael Liles (Toronto).
The Spartans will take a 15-day hiatus, returning to campus Dec. 26 to prepare for the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29-30. The Spartans will take on Michigan Tech in the first round and either Boston College or Michigan in the second night.
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