After an encouraging, but somewhat frustrating series split to start the season last weekend, the young Spartan hockey team will be hitting the road for the first time. Continuing the B1G/Hockey East Challenge, the Spartans will play #7 Massachusetts-Lowell and #12 Boston University. The two teams are a combined 3-0-1 on the season and have 2 of the top 3 offenses in the country (incredibly small sample size). The Spartans played a split series with these two teams last season, beating Boston University 3-1 by scoring 3 goals in the final 5 minutes and losing to then top ranked Lowell 4-1. The Spartans will open play against BU on Friday night before traveling to Lowell on Saturday.
|Boston University Terriers||Stats Match-Up (National Rank)||Michigan State Spartans|
|0%(47)||Power Play Percentage||11.11%(33)|
|100%(1)||Penalty Kill Percentage||85.7%(22)|
|Jack Eichel (Fr.) 2G, 2A||Leading Scorer||Matt Berry (Sr.) 4G, 2A|
|Connor LaCouvee (Fr) .969 save%||Expected Goaltender||Jake Hildebrand (Jr.) .865 save%|
Jack Eichel, widely regarded as the number 2 draft pick in this year's upcoming NHL Draft, had a good start to his college hockey career, scoring four points in a landslide victory over UMass on October 10. The Terriers have played one exhibition game since beating the Minutemen, defeating the US Under 18 team 6-4 last weekend behind two more Eichel goals. The Terriers were just 10-21-4 a season ago, in David Quinn's first season as head coach replacing the legendary Jack Parker.
The Terriers return 10 of their top 11 scorers from last season but more importantly bring a class of 10 freshman to campus. This group was ranked number one by College Hockey News and every single freshman dressed for the season opener against UMass. Another player to watch is junior captain Danny O'Regan who has three points on the season.
|UMass-Lowell Riverhawks||Stats Match-Up (National Rank)||Michigan State Spartans|
|22.22%(14)||Power Play Percentage||11.11%(33)|
|70.00%||Penalty Kill Percentage||85.7%(22)|
|Evan Campbell (So.) 2G, 3A||Leading Scorer||Matt Berry (Sr.) 4G, 2A|
|Kevin Boyle (Jr.) .907 save%||Expected Goaltender||Jake Hildebrand (Jr.) .865 save%|
The Riverhawks have had possibly the most impressive start of any team in the country. After dispatching #6 Boston College to begin the season, Lowell got a win and a tie versus #15 Quinnipiac. Quinnipiac then got upset by UConn this week, taking some shine off that series but the Riverhawks have been impressive none the less. They are led by three sophomores in scoring, including two goals from defenseman Michael Kapla. The Riverhawks, like the Terriers are incredibly young, with 14 freshman on the roster, tops in the NCAA.
The Riverhawks will play the University of Michigan on Friday night, so maybe on this rivalry weekend we can get a bump from the Wolverines and they can tire out Lowell.
3 Keys to Spartan Success
- The Ferrantino-Berry-MacEachern Line- As highlighted by Neil Koepke this week, the top line from last weekend was electric. Berry with 6 points in 2 games is sitting at 8th in the country and all those ahead of him have more games played. These guys will have to be clicking as, just like last season, it is looking like Jake Hildebrand may need a few weekends in net to get rolling.
- Avoid Costly Penalties- Penalties killed the chance of a Spartan sweep last weekend. Each night they took a five minute major and while the penalty kill was 6-7 on the weekend, that one goal against was a costly one, as UMass scored the winning goal Saturday with just 9 seconds remaining. Both the Terriers and Riverhawks have prolific offenses so avoiding man down situations will be crucial.
- Control the Tempo- It would probably play to the Spartans' favor to slow the games down this weekend, especially against the Terriers. Expect Hildebrand to freeze the puck every chance he gets and the Spartans to clog down shooting lanes. This team has been a national leader in blocked shot under coach Tom Anastos and expect that to continue this week.