Spartans Prepare for Big Chill
MSU Hockey Weekly
Dec. 8, 2010
|THE BIG CHILL : Michigan State vs. Michigan|
|Dates||Saturday, Dec. 11|
|Game Time||3:05 p.m.|
|Location||Ann Arbor, Mich. Michigan Stadium (Cap. 109,901; 200x100)|
|Televison|| FSN Detroit DirecTV Ch. 636
Big Ten Network DirecTV Ch. 610; Dish Network Ch. 439
|Radio||WVFN 730 AM|
|Tickets||Ticket Info | Michigan Stadium Seating Chart|
|Game Notes||Download PDF|
|Internet Coverage||Live Audio|
|Social Media||@MSU_Hockey | Facebook|
|Press Conference||Head Coach Rick Comley|
|More Coverage||Big Chill Media Center|
Possibly one of the most anticipated games in the regular season, MSU will face off with Michigan at Michigan Stadium for the " Big Chill at the Big House". More than 106,000 fans are expected for Saturday's afternoon tilt, which will help celebrate the most storied rivalry in college hockey.
Michigan State trails the all-time series with the Wolverines by a 122-140-18 margin. In Ann Arbor, Michigan holds a 69-43-4 edge.
The teams last met in March in the CCHA Quarterfinals, which Michigan won in two straight games. MSU had taken three of four from UM in the regular season.
Michigan State is coming off a split in their most recent series, a home-and-home with Ferris State. The Spartans rallied from a 2-1 deficit on Friday, getting the gamewinner from Torey Krug midway through the third period for a 3-2 victory in Big Rapids. On Saturday, a fluke deflection goal off the stick of an MSU defender was the lone score for the Bulldogs in a 1-0 overtime victory.
Saturday's game will air live in high definition on FSN Detroit, with Matt Shepard and Billy Jaffe on the call. Newcomer Shannon Hogan will handle rinkside duties along with Trevor Thompson, and Fred Pletsch will be between the benches. Shepard, Jaffe, and Thompson all were on the crew which covered the 2001 Cold War as well.
FSN Detroit can be found on DirecTV Channel 636. For those not in the FSN Detroit viewing area, the game will also be carried live on the Big Ten Network, on DirecTV channel 610 and Dish Network channel 439.
On the radio, Saturday's contest will air on WVFN 730 AM. The radio call can also be heard on www.spartansportsnetwork.com. Scott Moore and Rob Woodward begin their sixth season together on the call of Spartan hockey.
The last decade has been the closest in the history of the Michigan State-Michigan rivalry. The Wolverines hold a slim 21-20-11 lead in games played since the start of the 1999-2000 season.
MSU was 3-1 in the regular season against its archrival last year, and UM swept the five games in which the teams met in 2008-09. Prior to last 2008-09, only once in the last decade had one team won three consecutive games (MSU accomplished the feat in February and March of 2001).
Since the Cold War, Michigan has a 18-15-9 edge, and has outscored the Spartans in those games 123-108.
MSU will look for a victory in its final game before a 15-day holiday break. The team will return to practice on Sunday, Dec. 26.
Michigan has won 139 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, all in the early 1920's. The MSU records have four more Wolverine victories and one for the Spartans.
The Michigan State-Michigan rivalry is one of national prominence across the board, but due to the similar levels of success and a close won/loss records between the programs, it also may be the fiercest. In college hockey circles, it is perhaps the premiere rivalry - and with Saturday's game serving as the 281st chapter, it is also the most-played rivalry in the sport.
280 Michigan State/Michigan
277 Denver/Colorado College
261 Minnesota/Michigan Tech
254 North Dakota/Denver
252 Boston College/Boston University
249 Minnesota/Colorado College
237 North Dakota/Michigan Tech
219 North Dakota/Colorado College
217 Michigan/Michigan Tech
216 Boston College/Northeastern
214 Michigan Tech/Minnesota-Duluth
211 Michigan Tech/Denver
209 North Dakota/Minnesota-Duluth
206 Boston University/Northeastern
186 Clarkson/St. Lawrence
The Cold War, held on Oct. 6, 2001, was the first modern-day organized outdoor game which captured the attention not only of the college hockey world but of sports fans around the globe. It was the first outdoor game in the modern era of college hockey, and it was the beginning of a decade of outdoor games which have become large-scale events not only in college hockey, but in the NHL as well. The NHL's Winter Classic is now played annually on New Year's Day, and MSU and Michigan will play "The Big Chill at the Big House" - an outdoor game at Michigan Stadium - on Dec. 11. The Big Chill game has already sold more than 109,000 tickets, which will once again make MSU-Michigan the world-record holder for hockey attendance.
Only one outdoor game has surpassed the Cold War attendance - last year's IIHF World Championship game between the US and Germany, which brought in 77, 803 spectators. That game, played on May 7, 2010, was a 2-1 loss for the US squad which featured three players which played at either MSU or UM: Spartan Tim Kennedy, and former Wolverines Eric Nystrom and Jack Johnson.
Only one game in North America has come close to breaking the World Record attendance set by the Cold War - the first-ever NHL Winter Classic played between Pittsburgh and Buffalo in 2008. That game was won in a shootout by Pittsburgh.
The three other collegiate men's games played outdoors - BU/BC at Fenway Park, OSU/Wisconsin at Lambeau, and Wisconsin/Michigan at Camp Randall - combined for a total attendance of 134,943, roughly 34,000 more than expected for Saturday's tilt.
The Spartans have just four home games in November and December combined after six contests at Munn Arena in October. They will play three and four home games in January and February, respectively.
The two-game set with Notre Dame in mid-November is one of three that was formerly a home-and-home series that will now be played in one venue this season. MSU will be at home against Bowling Green in late February, and play two-game sets at Western Michigan and Notre Dame.
Last week's series against Ferris State was one of just two home-and-home series remaining on MSU's schedule, due to the scheduling quirks of an 11-team league. The Spartans will play Michigan on Jan. 7-8 as well.
Starting with the Big Chill at the Big House on Dec. 11, MSU could potentially face off with Michigan in four of five games - the Big Chill game, in the second round of the GLI (Dec. 30), and in a home-and-home January 7-8.
MSU just finished three games against Ferris State in a five-game and 12-day stretch.
Michigan State has three ties this season, and all have come in the first games of two-game sets. The Spartans tied Maine, 4-4, in the first game of their series with the Black Bears, and tied Alaska (1-1) and Alabama-Huntsville (4-4) in the first games of those series as well.
The Spartans were undefeated through their first six games for the first time since 1998-99. MSU was 4-0-2 that season, and started 5-0-2 before losing to Ohio State on Nov. 13.
MSU had a tough November, winning just twice in nine outings. One of its seven losses came in overtime, two were one-goal games, and two others were two-goal margins thanks only to a late empty-netter.
Michigan State has split each of its last two series, and has three splits overall on the season. MSU also had a win and a tie in three other series, and was swept twice.
In 25 of MSU's 28 seasons in the CCHA, it has finished fourth or better. MSU has won six regular-season titles, finished second eight times, third eight times, and fourth three times.
Michigan State fell out of the USCHO.com national top-20 poll, but is still receiving votes. In the USA Hockey/USA Today poll, MSU is no longer receiving votes, after finishing outside the survey's top 15 as the top team receiving votes for two straight weeks.
The 2010-11 CCHA Pre-Season polls find Michigan State picked fourth by the conference coaches and third by the league's media.
For the third time in four years, the coaches and media disagreed over who should own the No. 1 position in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's annual preseason polls. The conference's 11 head coaches ranked defending playoff champion Michigan first, while 75 media members named defending regular-season champion Miami as the preseason favorite.
The Spartans returned 19 players from a 19-13-5 team a season ago, including Second Team All-CCHA selection Drew Palmisano. Seventeen of the 19 returnees were letterwinners a year ago. MSU is quite "middle-classes" heavy - the roster features just two seniors and five freshmen on a roster of 26 student-athletes. The Spartans lost four players to graduation and three would-be seniors to professional hockey in the off-season. Sophomore Derek Grant is the team's top returning scorer (12-18-30), followed by junior Daultan Leveille (6-19-25). Palmisano boasted a 2.44 GAA and .917 save percentage in his first season as a starter.
Rick Comley is in his 38th season behind the bench of a college hockey program, and his ninth season at MSU. With 768 victories entering the season, Comley ranks among the top five coaches all-time in wins and top three among active coaches.
Comley owns a 774-604-109 (.559) 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 858 and Jack Parker of Boston University has 838.
Michigan State finished the 2009-10 CCHA season in second place. MSU's improvement of eight spots in the league standings from the previous season tied the all-time best jump from one year to another in conference history (Ferris State was ninth in the 2002-03 season, then captured the league title a season later.) Michigan State finished in a tie for 10th in 2008-09, but was the 11th seed in the playoffs due to losing the tiebreaker.
A year ago, Michigan State was picked eighth and ninth in the pre-season polls by the media and coaches, respectively. Michigan State was the CCHA team in 2009-10 which finished the most spots ahead of its preseason projection.
Three MSU players have received weekly honors from the CCHA this season. Junior defenseman Brock Shelgren was named the CCHA Defenseman of the Week after the Maine series. It was the first CCHA weekly honor in his career. Drew Palmisano earned CCHA Goaltender of the Week honors for his performance in the Alaska series (Oct. 22-23), and Derek Grant was named the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 15 after a five-point weekend against Ohio State.
Sophomore captain Torey Krug was named to the CCHA Preseason All-Conference Team. Krug received the third-most votes of any blueliner in the conference, garnering three first-place votes and 30 points. Junior goaltender Drew Palmisano was an honorable mention selection, garnering 14 points and one first-place vote.
Rick Comley owns a 41-29-7 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).
Michigan State was 5-3 against non-conference competition in 2009-10. MSU's 2010-11 schedule has one independent (Alabama-Huntsville), up to four games against WCHA competition (Minnesota, Wisconsin, MIchigan Tech, and possibly Colorado College in the GLI) in addition to the two-game set with Hockey East entry Maine.
So far, MSU is 3-1-2 against non-conference teams, with a win and tie each against Maine and UAH. The Spartans' also split Thanksgiving weekend in the College Hockey Showcase, a win at Minnesota and a loss at Wisconsin. MSU's next non-conference action comes at the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 29 against Colorado College, and the Spartans could play Michigan Tech in the second round.
This year, MSU is 3-0-2 when scoring four goals or more, and is 3-8-3 in games scoring three or fewer. MSU is 6-3-1 when allowing three or fewer, and 0-5-2 when giving up four or more.
27 of MSU's 38 games a year ago were settled by two goals or less, and 12 were one-goal affairs. Of the eight that were two-goal margins or more, four involved an empty-net goal.
MSU was 8-4-0 in one-goal games in 2009-10, and is 3-3-0 in those games this season - and played a pair of them last weekend against Ferris State (W 3-2, L 0-1 in OT).
Overall in 2010-11, the Spartans have tied three games, had six one-goal affairs, and three others which had empty-net tallies.
Michigan State is now 0-2-3 in over time this season after suffering a hard-luck, 1-0 OT decision against Ferris State on Dec. 4 at Munn Ice Arena. The winner was a deflection off a defender's stick in front. MSU split with the Bulldogs, winning a 3-2 game in Big Rapids on Friday.
Michigan State allowed six goals to Notre Dame on Nov. 19, the most since a 7-3 loss to Wisconsin in the College Hockey Showcase last November.
Just a week later, the Spartans scored a season-best five goals in the game at Minnesota, the most since Feb. 26, 2010 when MSU posted a 5-2 victory over Bowling Green.
MSU's three-goal opening period against the Gophers tied its season-high for goals in a period, matching the three it put on the board in the first period against Ohio State on Nov. 13.
MSU has outshot its opponents in just five of 17 games, including holding its opponents under 20 shots twice. Despite being on the short end of the shot margin in more than 2/3 of its games, opponents have 491 shots this season, compared to 464 for MSU - a difference of just 27 shots. Michigan State was outshot in 25 of its 38 games last season, but on the year was outshot only by a 1099-1051 margin, a total of 48 shots over 38 games.
MSU has been swept twice this season - at Western Michigan (Nov. 5-6) by 4-3 and 3-1 scores, and Nov. 19-20 at Notre Dame (2-6, 2-4).
MSU had taken at least a point out of every CCHA series last season - one of just three teams to do so . The WMU series was MSU's first point-less weekend since the final regular-season weekend against Notre Dame in February of 2009.
Ferris State has shut out MSU twice this season, and both have come at Munn Ice Arena. The Spartans had gone two calendar years without being whitewashed at home - the last had been Oct. 16, 2008 - a 3-0 loss to UMass-Lowell.
The first shutout came on Nov. 23, when the teams skated through a 1-0 Ferris State lead through 56 minutes of play before the Bulldogs got the backbreaker and added an empty-net tally. On Dec. 4, the teams played a scoreless regulation, and Ferris State got a fluke overtime winner when a cross-slot pass deflected off an MSU defender.
Michigan State allowed six power play goals in its first three games (13-for-19 on the kill, .684), and has allowed just seven in its last 14 contests combined 50-for-57, .877). On the season, MSU's penalty kill is 63-for76, (.829), and ranks fifth in the CCHA.
The Spartan power play is 14-for-80 (.175) on the man advantage, good for third in the CCHA.
MSU has potted two man-advantage tallies in four different games this season.
The Spartans allowed shorthanded goals to Notre Dame in each of their two games (Nov. 19-20), including Saturday's game-winner with just under two and a half minutes remaining in regulation. The empty-net goal was also a shorthanded marker, giving MSU three shorthanded tallies against in the series. The Spartans allowed just five shorthanded goals all of last season.
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 81-71-17 (52.9%), then compiled a 87-45-17 mark in the second half (64.1%).
With MSU's a 14-6-2 first-semester record last year it surpassed the 2007-08 squad for most wins under Comley in the opening semester. That team had the then-best first-half record (12-5-2, 68.4%), and were 13-7-3 in the 2008 portion of the schedule (63%).
Last year appears to be a juxtaposition of seasons past in the Comley regime - MSU jumped out to a 14-6-2 first-half ledger (.681), and its second-semester record was 5-7-4 (.438).
Fifteen of MSU's 42 goals scored this season have come in special teams situations - 14 on the power play, and one shorthanded. Of the 46 goals the Spartans have allowed, 13 have come with a man advantage and three shorthanded.
Freshman Lee Reimer was the first freshman to get on the board this season, his first collegiate point coming on Brett Perlini's second-period goal in the second game of the Maine series.
Two classmates joined him on the season scoresheet in the Alaska series. Jake Chelios had his first career two-point game on Oct. 23 against Alaska, the same night he had his first career point (an assist on Daultan Leveille's tally) and collegiate goal. Greg Wolfe had his first collegiate point in the same game, an assist on Chelios' third period marker.
Freshman goalie Will Yanakeff saw his first collegiate action on Nov. 19 at Notre Dame, coming in to play the third period in relief of Drew Palmisano. The rookie stopped 12 of 13 shots in that third peirod. He got the starting nod a night later, and made 19 saves against three goals in a 4-2 loss.
In his first collegiate start on Nov. 20, freshman goalie Will Yanakeff faced a penalty shot against ND's Ben Ryan just 22 seconds into the game. Yanakeff made a right leg -pad save; it was the first saved penalty shot for MSU since Feb. 2, 2008, when Jeff Lerg stopped Nebraska-Omaha's Bill Bagron in a 4-2 Spartan victory.
With a late shorthanded goal standing as the game-winner, Will Yanakeff became just the seventh netminder since 1980 (of 21) to fail to record a victory in his first collegiate start at Michigan State. Drew Palmisano won his first MSU starting assignment, on Oct. 17, 2008 against UMass-Lowell.
Drew Palmisano was credited with 17 first-period saves last Friday, a season best for a single-period effort and two shy of his career record. Palmisano has seen more time in net than all but one goaltender in the country. Alaska's Scott Greenham (972:48) is the only goalie to log more time than the Spartan backstop (957:25).
Despite a 2-3-0 record in the last five games - and in two of which the Spartans failed to score a goal - Drew Palmisano has given his team a chance to win each time out. Palmisano owns a 2.44 GAA and .914 save percentage on the season, and in the last five games has a 2.18 GAA and .928 save percentage.
Brett Perlini's two-goal effort on Dec. 3 against Ferris State was his third of the season and the fourth of his career. He has 11 goals, his first time in double-digits in his career.
Freshman centerman Greg Wolfe's scored his first collegiate goal on Nov. 19 at Notre Dame. It was a bit of a fluky score - a shot rang off the glass behind the goal cage and flipped high into the air, was missed by a pair of opposing players trying to swat at it, and it instead fell straight down, caromed off the shaft of Wolfe's stick and beat the goalie five-hole.
It took first-year player Jake Chelios three games to get on the scoreboard for the first time, but since breaking the ice (so to speak), he had points in five of his next nine games played.
Chelios had a power-play goal in each of the two games against Ohio State (Nov. 5-6). He is the team's top-scoring first-year player, and he is now fourth on the team in goals with four .
On top of the scoring prowess, Chelios has also been rapidly improving not only while adjusting to college hockey, but also playing a new position. All throughout junior hockey, Chelios had played forward - he had expressed an interest in switching to play defense to start his college career. His father, 26-year NHL veteran Chris Chelios, made the same switch at age 19 as well.
Only one sophomore - winger Kevin Walrod - has yet to score a collegiate goal. He had three assists last season. Walrod has missed the last six of the last seven games prior to Thanksgiving week with injury.
Sophomore captain Torey Krug had the game-winner in the Dec. 3 game at Ferris State. He now has five goals on the season, nearly double his freshman output with half a season to play. He is second on the team (and ranks 13th in the CCHA overall) in scoring with 15 points, ranks eighth in assists. He is the league's top-scoring blueliner (0.88 ppg), and is fifth nationally in that category. He has points in 11 of 17 games this season, a team best (shared with Brett Perlini).
Torey Krug's Nov. 20 tally at Notre Dame was his third of the season, matching his total number of goals from a season ago. Brett Perlini scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season in the Dec. 3 game at Ferris State. He had nine career goals entering the season.
Brett Perlini and Torey Krug have each recorded a point in 11 of MSU's 17 games this season, a team best. Derek Grant has points in 10 games, while Dustin Gazley checks in with eight.
Dustin Gazley's two-goal outing against Minnesota gave him his first scores since Nov. 5 at Western Michigan. He recorded his fourth career two-goal game, and first since March 7, 2009 at Northern Michigan.
Ten of Derek Grant's 14 points have come in CCHA games. 11 of Brett Perlini's (six goals, five assists) came in conference contests. Torey Krug has 4-4-8 in CCHA tilts, and two of those goals stood as game-winners.
Torey Krug was MSU's most-penalized player last season. At 5-9, he is MSU's smallest-stature defenseman - but was whistled for 27 penalties for 65 minutes.
In 17 games this season, Krug has been whistled for 10 penalties for 23 minutes - team highs in both categories.
Michigan State has blocked 191 shots in 17 games, compared to 216 for its opponents. In the second game against Alaska (Oct. 23), the Nanooks blocked 30 MSU shots, which more than accounts for the discrepancy.
Sophomore captain Torey Krug has blocked a team-high 31 shots, while Krug's defensive partner Matt Grassi has 13. Blueliners Brock Shelgren (24), Tim Buttery (14) and Jake Chelios (13) also register double-digits. Trevor Nill (12) and Chris Forfar (11) are the Spartan forwards with 10 or more.
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. Drew Palmisano kept the streak alive with his Second Team All-CCHA honor in 2009-10.