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Icers, Falcons Wrap Up Pre-Holiday Action

Dec. 10, 2009

No. 13/14 Michgian State vs. Bowling Green
Date/Time: Fri. Dec. 11, 7:05 p.m., Bowling Green, Ohio / Sat. Dec. 12, 7:05 p.m. Munn Ice Arena (S)
Tickets: A limited number of tickets remain for Saturday's game. Purchase Tickets
Live Statistics: Friday | Saturday | PDA/Blackberry
Audio: WJIM 1240 AM; all audio can also be heard at
Live Video Webstream: B2 Network (F) / Download MSU Hockey Notes (PDF)
Podcasts: Rick Comley | Chris Forfar | Torey Krug | Dustin Gazley

Michigan State wraps up the pre-holiday portion of its schedule with a home-and-home series against Bowling Green.

Learn about this week's Teddy Bear Toss and Chuck-a-Puck Promotions and Holiday Food Drive

series history
The Spartans own a commanding 64-29-8 mark all-time against the Falcons; MSU is 34-9-3 in games played in East Lansing, and are 23-17-5 in games played at the BGSU Ice Arena.



The teams have split seven of the the last eight series played; MSU swept the two-game set between the teams in the 2007-08 campaign.

recapping the action
The Spartans are coming off a split at Northern Michigan, winning a defensive battle on Friday by a 1-0 margin, then falling in an overtime heartbreaker on Saturday.
Michigan State snapped a four-game winless skid (0-3-1) with a 1-0 victory at NMU on Friday. Corey Tropp had the game winner with just over six minutes remaining in regulation, off an assist from freshman winger Derek Grant.
Tropp had a tying goal late in the second game, but the Spartans fell in overtime. Dustin Gazley had earlier tied the game at 1-1; the overtime winner was a fluky score off the skate of an MSU defenseman in front of the net with 1:01 remaining in the extra session.

on the pond
MSU will play four regular-season games on an Olympic ice sheet during the 2009-10 season (200x100) - last weekend's set at Northern Michigan, and the February series at Alaska. MSU went 1-1 last weekend at NMU.
With the exception of last weekend, the team has played all other 16 games on NHL ice (200x85).

another sign that 2009 was the exception, not the rule
The Spartans secured their 10th victory of the season on Friday Dec. 4 with a 1-0 win over Northern Michigan - a milestone they reached on Feb. 20 last season with a 3-2 win over Bowling Green. MSU owns seven wins against CCHA teams, matching its conference win total from last season.

state of the nation
MSU is 1-3-1 in its last five games. The Spartans are still 10-6-2 overall, and hold down second place (7-3-2) in the CCHA standings.

around the league
Four of six CCHA series this weekend are home-and-home sets, including rivalry partner games between Miami and Ohio State and Ferris State and Western. MSU and BG is a series between clustermates, as is the Friday-Sunday set between Notre Dame and Michigan. The two series at one site are also rivalry partner games: Nebraska-Omaha is at Alaska, while Northern Michigan and Lake Superior engage in their Cappo Cup rivalry.

Michigan State is 3-3 against non-conference competition, sweeping Clarkson, splitting a series at Maine, and getting swept in the College Hockey Showcase. Rick Comley owns a 36-28-5 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), and is 21-14-4 over the last four years (2005-09.)

o captain my captain
Senior Nick Sucharski and junior Jeff Petry were elected by team members as the captains of the 2009-10 Spartans. Corey Tropp and Andrew Rowe will serve as alternate captains.

honorary "c"
Michigan State will take part in honoring its past in its present with the introduction of Honorary Captains. In selected games this season, former MSU skaters will come back to campus to serve as an Honorary Captain for one game. The Honorary Captain will attend pre-game meal with team, address the Spartan squad prior to the contest, and stand on the bench during the game. This allows the program not only to honor former players, but also to share with current team members what donning the Green and White meant to those who came before them.

Oct. 10 - Dave Kelley (1973-77)
Oct. 17 - Ron Clark (1972-75)
Nov. 6 - Kevin Miller (1984-88)
Nov. 28 - Joe Blackburn (1997-01)

represent your state
MSU's 28-man roster represents six US states and two Canadian provences. Half (14) of MSU's players hail from the state of Michigan, while four are from Ontario. The Spartans have three players each from Illinois and British Columbia, and one player each from Colorado, Minnesota, New York, and Wisconsin.

Michigan State was selected ninth by the head coaches and eighth by the league's media in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association's annual preseason polls. In two close races, Michigan received enough points from the conference's 12 head coaches and 66 media members to be named the preseason favorite in both surveys. The polls were announced in conjunction with the CCHA's pre-season media conference call with all 12 head coaches, held this season in lieu of a media day in Detroit. MSU garnered 46 points in the survey of conference coaches, and 332 points in the media poll, which included one first-place vote.

what's new?
The CCHA announced that a regulation or overtime victory will be worth three points in the league standings this season, a change from when the shootout was instituted last season.
This season, a regulation or sudden-death overtime win will earn a team three points in the standings, a shootout victory will garner two points, a shootout loss will be rewarded by one point, and a loss in regulation or overtime will mean no points. So, any game that goes to a shootout will see the victor credited with a tie and a shootout win in the conference standings, while the loser will receive credit for a tie.
This differs from the system utilized in 2008-09, where a regulation/overtime victory or a shootout win meant two points, a shootout loss gave a team one point, and a regulation/overtime loss was awarded no points.

m.a.s.h. unit
In 2008-09, Michigan State had a total 14 players miss time with 16 injuries, totaling 221 practices missed and 108 games lost.

gaining ground
Comley captured his 750th career victory on Friday, Oct. 9 with a 6-1 victory over Clarkson. He now owns a 758-588-101 (.562) 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 829 and Jack Parker of Boston University has 820. The Feb. 7, 2009 victory over Ferris State (1-0) was the 150th victory for Comley at MSU.

law of averages
MSU's current roster averages: 6-0, 181 lbs., and the average age is 20 years, 10 months. Among CCHA schools, MSU was one of 10 schools that averaged 6-0 or taller, the Spartans were the lightest team on average, and were third-youngest. (Michigan's roster averages 20 years, two months, and Notre Dame averages 20 years, nine months.) Compared to last year, MSU's roster is the same average height, but is six pounds heavier and eight months older - despite adding nine freshmen.

youth movement
Michigan State's roster features 18 underclassmen - nine sophomores and nine freshmen. The Spartans have the most first-year players of any conference team, and rank second in sophomore class size behind Alaska (11). Alaska boasts 19 underclassmen, the only league team with more than MSU.

quite the cluster
Michigan State and Michigan will be paired with Bowling Green and Notre Dame for the 2009-10 season as clustermates. The schools will face off four times, and play against the remaining eight schools in the conference twice.
This weekend features cluster play for the MSU/UM/ND/BG cluster. Thus far in cluster play, MSU is 2-1-1, and has not yet played Bowling Green. Michigan is 1-3-0, (without playing Notre Dame), Bowling Green is 1-2-1, and Notre Dame is 1-1-2.

heft in the schedule
MSU is 4-1-1 against teams ranked in the top ten this season, and 4-3-2 overall against ranked teams overall.

speaking of rankings ...
The Spartans are the No. 14 (USCHO) and 13 (USA Hockey)-ranked team in the national polls this week (Nov. 30). The Nov. 16 ranking of No. 6 was the program's highest ranking since March 10, 2008 when they also held down the No. 6 spot.

undefeated no more
The Spartans knocked off previously-undefeated teams in three straight series early this season - Miami on Oct. 24, Western Michigan on Oct. 30, and Nebraska-Omaha on Nov. 5.

conference streaking
The Spartans had an undefeated streak of eight straight conference games snapped on Nov. 22 against Notre Dame, the longest streak since MSU did not lose (5-0-3) in the month of January 2008.

the floors must be dirty
Against Clarkson, Michigan State recorded its first sweep of a home weekend since Nov. 9-10, 2007 against Mercyhurst. With an abundance of home-and-home series, the Spartans have played only nine two-game home sets since that weekend.

getting a hang of this road game thing
Michigan State won its fourth road game of the season on Nov. 13 at Michigan, two more than it won in all of last year.

fingers crossed for November
MSU had a 6-2-0 mark at the end of October, marginally better than the 4-2-2 mark it owned at the end of October last season. MSU's downward spiral began when injuries started to pile up in November - when MSU failed to win a game (0-7-1) and scored just eight goals during the month.
November was not been an easy month for the 2009-10 Spartans, either - it had three straight conference series against ranked teams (No. 10 Nebraska-Omaha, No. 6 Michigan, No. 14 Notre Dame), and wrapped up against Big Ten foes in the College Hockey Showcase against Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Spartans were 3-3-2 in November, giving MSU two straight .500-or-better months.

scoring outbursts ... halted
MSU was limited to just a pair of goals in its two-game set with Notre Dame (Nov. 19/22), its lowest scoring ouput in a weekend this season. The previous low was four, in a split at Miami.
MSU has, however, scored 46 goals this season ... more than two-thirds of its offensive production from a year ago (62).

here's a positive
Michigan State has scored four goals or more in four of its 18 games. MSU only reached the four-goal plateau twice last season.

win `em close
Fourteen of MSU's 18 games this season have been settled by two goals or less, and eight were one-goal affairs. Of the four that were two-goal margins or more, three involved an empty-net goal.

you miss 100% of the shots you don't take
Michigan State has been outshot in 12 of its 18 games thus far, but on the season, is only being outshot by 14 shots total (501-515). MSU is averaging 27.8 shots per game, and allowing an average of 28.6.
In 2008-09, the Spartans averaged 23.97 shots per game, which ranked last of 58 teams nationally. The Spartans allowed 35.32 per game, which was the second-highest total in the country behind Brown. In shot margin, MSU ranked 57th (-11.34), behind only Brown (-14.85).

scoring drought ... corrected
The Spartans averaged just 1.63 goals per game a year ago, not only the lowest average in Division I hockey, but also a program low for scoring output in a season. This year has started with a stark contrast - MSU has averaged 2.7 goals over 18 games.

sloppy seconds
Michigan State has allowed the first goal of the game to its opponent in five of the last six contests, and is 1-4-1 in that stretch.

MSU's power play had sputtered in its previous four games, but MSU snapped a string of 23 power-play chances without a goal with Derek Grant's extra-man marker in the second period against Wisconsin (Nov. 27), MSU's sixth chance of the night. In the three games since, MSU is 0-for-16 on the man advantage. MSU's power play was 15-for-59 in the first 10 games (25.9%), but has since gone 2-for-41 (in eight games) and is now 17-for-97 overall on the season (17.5%) While MSU's power play has cooled off, the penalty kill has gotten significantly better. Through the first 10 games, the Spartans killed off 51 of 64 chances against, (.796), while in the last eight games have allowed just three PPG in 29 chances - a kill success rate of 89.7%.
Also of note - MSU has taken significantly fewer penalties in the last eight games in comparison to its first ten. In the first eight games, MSU averaged 7.3 penalties and 17.9 PIM per game. In the eight games since, MSU has averaged four penalties and eight PIM/gm.

Two of MSU's scores against Wisconsin (Nov. 27) came on the power play in the second period, the first time MSU had multiple power-play goals in a game since the Nov. 5 game vs. Nebraska Omaha.

academic achievement
MSU's hockey program recorded a 3.05 cumulative grade-point average in the fall 2008 semester, an all-time best. The team also posted a 2.905 in the spring semester of 2009. Three players recorded perfect 4.0 semesters: Brock Shelgren (fall) and Jeff Lerg and Jacob Schering (spring).

compete with the east
MSU took on two eastern teams - Clarkson and Maine - to open the 2009-10 season. MSU compiled a 3-1 record in the four games played, and is 5-3 over the last two years against Eastern competition. MSU's WCHA stretch comes in November and December, when it has Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Michigan Tech on the schedule. One more eastern team (Rensselaer) is a possible opponent in the Great Lakes Invitational.

strong second halves
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 77-65-15 (538%), then compiled a 82-40-13 mark in the second half (61.6%). The 2007-08 Spartans had their best first-half record under Comley (12-5-2, 68.4%), and were 13-7-3 in the 2008 portion of the schedule (63%). Should MSU sweep Bowling Green, it could tie the best first-semester start under Comley, with an additional two games to play in the GLI.

the young ones
Michigan State's lineup has a youthful look for sure - the Spartans have dressed 14 freshmen (9) and sophomores (5) each weekend.

free hockey
Michigan State has played four overtimes this season with an official record of 1-1-2. The two ties, MSU has lost the shootout (to UNO and Notre Dame). MSU's overtime victory on Oct. 24 at Miami was its first in an extra session since the CCHA Tournament consolation game in 2007, a wild 7-6 victory over Lake Superior on March 17, 2007. Between overtime victories, MSU played 12 games that went to an extra session, and owned an 0-2-10 mark in those contests. Five of those ties were last year, with the shootout rule - MSU won the shootouts in three the four conference tilts that required an extra session.

league kudos
Drew Palmisano was named the CCHA Goaltender of the Week on Nov. 16. Palmisano limited Michigan to two goals on the weekend and backstopped the Spartans to their second shutout of the season at home on Saturday. Palmisano posted a 1.00 GAA and .960 save percentage over the two-game set and stopped 48 of 50 shots.

quite the month, with a reward at the end
Freshman Derek Grant has been named the RBC Financial CCHA Rookie of the Month for October, and earned the national award from the Hockey Commissioner's Association (HCA) later in the week. The top-line winger for the Spartans finished the month tied for the national lead in rookie scoring, goals, and assists with a 4-6-10 scoring line. In the CCHA he ranked second in scoring, and tied for fourth in both goals and assists. His 3-4-7 stats on the power play ranked second in the CCHA, and his three power-play goals is the third-highest total in the country. In addition, he ranked fourth nationally among rookies (appearing in more than one game) in points per game (1.25). Grant opened his MSU career with three-straight multiple-point games, and earned CCHA Rookie of the Week kudos after the Clarkson series (Oct. 12).

quite the month, but no award ...
Corey Tropp, while losing out on RBC Financial Player of the Month kudos to Alaska goaltender Scott Greenham, had quite the impressive month as well. Through the end of October, the winger was tied for national lead in goals (7) and ranked second in points (13), was the CCHA's leading point (13) and goal scorer, and ranked third in assists (6) . Tropp also led the CCHA in power play goals, assists, and points (4-4-8), and was a +3 He had multiple-point efforts in six of eight games , including his first career hat trick in a road win at Maine. He ranked second nationally in power play goals (4) , tied for third in shorthanded goals (1)m and also tied for second in game-winning goals (2). He was11th nationally in points per game (1.62) and fifth in goals per game (0.88) (among players appearing in more than one game), and through eight contests, was assessed just one minor penalty. He was named the CCHA Player of the Week after the Maine series in which he had four goals and an assist (Oct. 19).

hot hand
Drew Palmisano made a season-high 40 saves in the tough loss to Minnesota on Nov. 28. He owns a .926 sv. percentage and 2.10 GAA, good for 12th and 10th, respectively, in the national rankings. His previous season high in saves was 35, set in a 3-2 overtime win over No. 1 Miami in Oxford.

Anthony Hayes scored his first collegiate goal and had his first collegiate assist on Oct. 31. His assist set up the first college goal for his linemate, Dean Chelios. The two combined on a Hayes goal in the Nov. 5 game against Nebraska-Omaha.

mad hatter
Corey Tropp's Oct. 16 hat trick against Maine was the first for MSU since Justin Abdelkader's against Bowling Green on Feb. 29, 2008, a 6-3 victory. Tropp scored on the power play, shorthanded, and even strength. On the weekend vs. Maine, Tropp had four goals and an assist, and was a +1.

leading scorers
Corey Tropp reached the 20-point plateau after 17 games, a total only one MSU player reached last season (Matt Schepke had 24 points). Tropp has a conference-best 12 goals. Derek Grant has 17 points, the same number as Daultan Leveille had as MSU's second-leading scorer as a freshman a year ago.

o from the d
Jeff Petry had three assists in the College Hockey Showcase, and his 12 helpers on the season is the third-most in the conference. Petry is third in defenseman scoring in the CCHA with a 1-12-13 scoring line.

block party
Torey Krug (37) is leading the team in blocked shots, followed by Jeff Petry (36), and Brock Shelgren (29) is right behind.

back in green
Last December, then-freshman forward Mike Merrifield returned to junior hockey for the remainder of the season, and played for the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. His coach in Green Bay was John Cooper, who coached Merrifield the previous season in the NAHL with the St. Louis Bandits. In 38 games in Green Bay, Merrifield had 18 goals and 16 assists (34 points), potted 12 points on special teams, and was a +9. Merrifield cracked the lineup in MSU's series at Maine, and scored his first collegiate goal (and point) on a beautiful tic-tac-toe score in the second period of the second game. He has been in the lineup 12 of the last 14 games, and has a 2-2-4 scoring line.

an eclipse ...
It took six games for Corey Tropp to eclipse the 11 points he amassed in his sophomore campaign, with 6-6-12 in his first six contests. In 2008-09, he had three goals and eight assists in 21 games. Matt Crandell has met his 2008-09 scoring output as well, as his two assists at Michigan (Nov. 13) gave him five for the season (0-5-5).
Jeff Petry has tied his 2008-09 assist total (12) and is one short of his point total from a year ago (14).
Tropp's 12 goals is his career high, and three more than he had in his first two collegiate seasons combined. Andrew Rowe's seven goals is one more than he had in all of 2008-09 as well.

...and close
Andrew Rowe and Dustin Gazley, each with 10 points, are at more than half their scoring output from a year ago (14 points).

Corey Tropp started off his junior season with five multiple-point efforts in the first nine games, and has scored goals in 10 of MSU's 18 contests, including three of the last four.

multiplicity, take two
Derek Grant started his college career with three straight multiple-point games, and has at least a point in 12 of 18 MSU games this season.
Grant had his first multiple-assist game on Nov. 27 against Wisconsin, a season-best three points with a goal and two helpers against Badgers.

multiplicity, take three
Blueliner Matt Crandell had the primary assist on MSU's second and third goals in the win at Michigan (Nov. 13), his first multiple-point game in his career.

among the bretheren
In the CCHA overall statistics, Tropp is first in points (21) and second in goals (12), tied for third in power-play goals (5) and is tied for first in power-play points (11). Grant is sixth in points (17), tied for 10th in goals (7) and 11th in assists (10), and is tied for first in power play points (11) and third in power play goals (5). Jeff Petry is tied for third in the conference in assists (12), and is third in defensemen scoring (13 pts). Andrew Rowe is tied with Grant for 10th in goals (7). Drew Palmisano is fifth among CCHA netminders with a 2.10 GAA, and sixth with a .926 save percentage.

but ,... this is what wins awards
Post-season CCHA awards are selected on the basis of a players' performance in conference games, and Palmisano ranks fourth in both GAA (1.60) and save percentage (.940) in CCHA tilts.

rookie kudos
Zach Josepher's four-point collegiate debut vs. Clarkson (Oct. 9) is the most for an MSU freshman in his first game since both Russell Welch and James Cunningham each had a goal and three assists in an 8-1 win over Ohio State on Oct. 22, 1976.
Josepher's two-goal outing in the opener was MSU's first since Matt Schepke potted two against North Dakota In the Great Lakes Invitational (Dec. 27, 2008). Josepher recorded MSU's first four-point game since Justin Abdelkader (3g, 1a) against Bowling Green on Feb. 29, 2008.

the reports of our goaltending demise have been greatly exaggerated
The post-Jeff Lerg era showed that both of MSU's top two netminders are capable of winning hockey games. Drew Palmisano has drawn 13 starts (7-5-2) and owns a 2.10 GAA and .926 save percentage. Bobby Jarosz has three starts, a 3.23 GAA and .889 save percentage, and is 2-1-0.

penalty shots
Andrew Rowe's penalty shot attempt on Oct. 23 against Miami was the first for the Spartans since March 16, 2007, when Justin Abdelkader had one against Michigan in the CCHA semifinals. Billy Sauer made the save. MSU's last successful penalty shot came on Dec. 9, 2006, when Chris Mueller scored against Western Michigan

goalie u
Thanks to LSJ scribe Neil Koepke for this gem: 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.

the future in the present
Inside College Hockey has placed freshman winger Derek Grant as No. 17 on its list of incoming forwards.

fun facts for a team you don't know well ... yet.
Nick Sucharski, despite being a fifth-year senior, is not the oldest player on the MSU roster - that honor belongs to netminder Bobby Jarosz. Junior Joey Shean is also older than Sucharski, who came to campus in the fall of 2005 as a 17-year-old ... Torey Krug is the youngest player on the Spartan roster with an April 12, 1991 birthdate. He has won two national championships with Detroit Honeybaked (2003) and Indiana Ice (2009) as a teammate of fellow freshman Zach Golembiewski ... The honor of being the tallest Spartan falls to AJ Sturges (6-4), and the, ahem, least tallest is Dustin Gazley (5-8) ... Matt Grassi is the heaviest (and almost the tallest) at 6-3, 215 ... British Columbia is becoming a hotbed of college hockey recruiting, as Grassi, Kevin Walrod, and Derek Grant all hail from the provence - and Zach Josepher and Trevor Nill both played their junior hockey for Penticton in the BCHL ... Gazley was the youngest member of the 2004 US inline team that won a silver medal at World Juniors in London, Ontario and three ... Seven players were multiple-sport athletes in high school - Matt Crandell, Trevor Nill, and Brett Perlini all played soccer, while Nill, Jeff Petry, Brock Shelgren, and Dean Chelios all played baseball. Golembiewski was a scholastic golfer and graduated with his high school record for best round ... Nill is featured in this year's College of Engineering ad in the MSU hockey yearbook ...

next up
MSU takes a break for exams and the holidays, and will resume action in just over two weeks at the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit. The Spartans will tangle with Michigan Tech in the first round, then with either Michigan or Rensselaer in the tournament's second day.

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