Michigan State posted its second consecutive conference sweep, winning a home-and-home series with Ferris State on Dec. 7-8 to close the first half of the season,. The Spartans won a 4-3 contest on Friday in Big Rapids, then took a 4-1 decision on Saturday in the 2007 finale at Munn Arena. Friday's win was the 725th in the career of head coach Rick Comley.
MSU has a 19-day hiatus for holiday break, re-convening for the Great Lakes Invitational on Dec. 28-29. MSU will play Michigan Tech in the semifinals of the 43rd annual tournament.
The Spartans extended their unbeaten streak to six games (4-0-2) and enter the break having won four straight games.
MSU enters the holiday hiatus in fourth place in the CCHA standings, six points behind league-leading Michigan and four behind both Miami and Notre Dame. MSU has played two fewer conference games than all three of those teams, and has yet to play either the Irish or the Wolverines.
MSU finished the pre-holiday portion of its schedule with a 12-3-2 mark, the best halfway-point record in the Rick Comley era and the best since the 2001-02 team - Ron Mason's last - had an identical record in the pre-GLI schedule. The three Spartan losses have all come to teams ranked No. 1 at the time of the game.
MSU is now 10-0-1 when scoring first, which it did in each of the last four games. The Spartans are 5-0 in one-goal games, 11-0 when entering the third period with a lead, and has swept four of five CCHA series.
Nationally, the Spartans rank fourth in scoring offense (3.53 gpg), and their power play ranks fifth (22/96, 22.9%). MSU ranks fourth in winning percentage (76.5 percent), has the second-fewest losses of anyone in the country, and enter the break with the nation's third-longest unbeaten streak (six games).
Ten players have between 11 and 20 points on the year.
Tim Crowder was named the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week on Dec. 10. Crowder had been snakebitten, with just two goals (in 15 games) entering the weekend - but managed two goals in the third period of each game against Ferris. Crowder now has a 6-7-13 stat line.
Tim Kennedy is among national scoring leaders in several categories: he ranks in a tie for first in game-winning goals (8), third in power-play tallies (7), tied for fifth in shorthanded goals (2), eighth in goals per game (0.71) and point scoring (1.21 ppg, 21st).
Jeff Petry had a pair of assists and led all defensemen with a +4 in the two-game sweep of Ferris State. The freshman has been a standout so far this season on the blueline, and ranks fourth overall on the team with a +7 and a 1-10-11 stat line.
Jeff Lerg is now 5-0 this season in one-goal games - he posted a 4-3 victory in Big Rapids, while making a season-best 37 saves. He allowed just one goal in a victory the next night to seal a sweep, which extended MSU's conference winning streak to four games. Lerg made 63 of 67 saves on the weekend.
MSU dominated Ferris State in the faceoff circle in its final first-half weekend, winning 79 of 133 faceoffs. On the year, Chris Mueller has won 121 of 214, for a team-best 56.5 percent. Justin Abdelkader has won 202 of 370 (54.6%).
Five veterans have already surpassed their single-season bests through the midpoint of the season. Headlining the group is senior blueliner Daniel Vukovic, who recorded a 7-5-12 stat line in what was a breakout junior season. This year, he has two goals and 11 assists for 13 points - the 11 assists betters his career total of nine coming into the season.
In addition, junior Matt Schepke posted 3-2-5 as a sophomore, his first year in Green and White. He has seven goals and eight assist this year for 15 points. Schepke ranks second on the team in points.
A trio of blueliners also finds themselves having their best offensive seasons. Sophomore Michael Ratchuk has tied his 12 points he recorded as a freshman, while classmate Ryan Turek and junior Brandon Gentile are also already ahead of their totals from a year ago. Turek has three assists this season after just two as a freshman, while Gentile's five helpers betters his total of four last year.
Vukovic and Ratchuk are among the most prolific scorers among defensemen in the country. Vukovic's 0.82 points per game ranks him eighth, while Ratchuk (0.71 ppg) puts him 14th.