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GLI Semi-Final Preview: Ferris State Bulldogs

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The Spartans' hockey team returns to play against Ferris State at Joe Louis Arena

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Sunday marks the beginning rounds of the 50th annual Great Lakes Invitational tournament and for the 36th consecutive time (41st overall appearance), the Michigan State Spartans will be participating. This years' field is the usual three, MSU Michigan Tech and University of Michigan, with special guest Ferris State University. Michigan Tech will play Michigan in the opening semi-final game at 3:00 pm Sunday with the Spartans playing Ferris State at 7:00 pm.

Ferris State Bulldogs 9-7-1

Time/TV: 7:00 PM on Fox Sports Detroit +

Radio: Spartan Sports Network

Michigan State Spartans Stats Match-Up (National Rank). Ferris State Bulldogs
2.38 (41) Goals Scored/Game 2.71 (29)
2.75 (34) Goals Against/Game 1.82 (6)
10-of-69 14.49% (37) Power Play Percentage 9-of-83 10.84% (52)
48-of-58 82.8% (32) Penalty Kill Percentage 59-of-67 88.1% (11)
Michael Ferrantino (Jr) 8G 6A, 14pts Leading Scorer Matt Robertson (Jr) 4G 13A, 17pts

Jake Hildebrand (Jr) 6-9-1

2.70 GAA, .902 save %

Expected Goaltender

CJ Motte (Sr) 9-7-1

1.72GAA, .939 save %

The Spartans squared off with Ferris State back in November for a home series at Munn Arena. The Spartans outplayed the Bulldogs both nights but were only able to come away with a split, thanks to a Friday night shutout by Bulldogs' goaltender CJ Motte. The Spartans then rebounded on Saturday night to score four goals on Motte and came away from that weekend outscoring the Bulldogs 4-2. At that point in November Ferris State was ranked 14th in the country and since then they have continued to slide, entering the second half of the season a somewhat disappointing 9-7-1.

The Spartans come into this game riding a wave of pretty good hockey played. They won in a shootout over Minnesota at the end of November and in their last game played scored a season high 6 goals in a win over Clarkson. The GLI tournament is a chance to start the second half of the season with confidence before going deep into Big Ten Conference play.

The Bulldogs are always strong defensively under head coach Bob Daniels and this year's team is no different. Led in net by goaltender CJ Motte who ranks sixth in the nation in both goals against average and save percentage. The senior goaltender will be tough for the Spartans to beat and when they have had success against Motte it involves screening his vision and capitalizing on rebounds. Getting people to the front of the net to do both of these tasks will be important for the Spartans on Sunday. On offense sophomore Chad McDonald is the leading goal scorer for the Bulldogs with 8 goals scored in 15 games. The Battle Creek native had 9 goals in 42 games last season and will be someone for the Spartans top pairing of Travis Walsh and Josh Jacobs to shadow tightly.

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3 Keys to Spartan Success

  1. Outshoot the Bulldogs- The Spartans have outshot their opponents in 11 of 16 games after only doing that 14 times all last season. The Spartans average 30.5 shots/game (25th nationally) while Ferris State averages 34.0 shots per game (8th nationally). With CJ Motte playing so well in the net for the Bulldogs the Spartans will have to do what they did last series and outshoot the Bulldogs.
  2. Quick Start- Rust is bound to be there for both teams with a few weeks off after a couple of months of consistent play. Whoever comes out sharper and can maybe get a quick lead will have a severe advantage, especially against these two goaltenders.
  3. Avoid the Shootout- The Spartans are 1-0-2 in GLI semi-final games under Tom Anastos. The last two seasons the Spartans have lost the semi-final games in shootouts. It would be wise for the Spartans to try and win this game in regulation.
Around the B1G
Penn State is the only other league team in action before 2015. The Nittany Lions are playing in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh. Sunday they will face off against a fellow Pennsylvania team, #19 Robert Morris. The other side of the bracket pits Western Michigan against Colgate.