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GLI Final Preview: University of Michigan

After a great game from Jake Hildebrand against Ferris State the Spartans will play for a GLI title today

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

The Michigan State Spartans hockey team continued their streak of strong play yesterday, defeating Ferris State University 2-0 in the Great Lakes Invitational semi-finals. Now the Spartans will play their arch-enemy the University of Michigan in the 50th GLI championship game.

The Spartans utilized a strong team defense and the best game from goaltender Jake Hildebrand in defeating the Bulldogs on Sunday. Ferris did outshoot the Spartans but Hildebrand was not called on to make amazing saves in getting the victory. The Spartans also got a strong effort from their penalty kill, holding the Bulldogs 0/4 on the night with the man advantage.

Senior Brent Darnell continued his strong play, since receiving a wake up call as a healthy scratch against Minnesota on December 5. Darnell scored his 4th of the season at 3:35 of the second period. Darnell utilized a pick set by Ryan Keller to gain space from the Bulldogs' defenders on a three-on-three rush. Darnell toe-dragged from a reaching stick and buried a wrist shot past CJ Motte on the glove side. Thomas Ebbing would add an empty net goal to bring us to the final score of 2-0,

University of Michigan 9-7-0 (2-1-0 Big Ten)

Time/TV: 7:00 PM, Fox Sports Detroit +, Fox College Sports-Atlantic

Michigan State Spartans Stats Match-up (National Rank) Michigan Wolverines
2.35 (41) Goals Scored/Game 3.75 (4)
2.59 (31) Goals Against/Game 2.94  (40)
10-of-71 14.08% (38) Power Play Percentage 13-of-63 20.63% (16)
52-of-62 83.9% (26) Penalty Kill Percentage 47-of-57 82.5% (34)
Michael Ferrantino (Jr) 8G 6A, 14pts Leading Scorers Zach Hyman (Sr) 8G 11A, 19pts

Jake Hildebrand (Jr) 7-9-1

2.54 GAA, .908 save %

Expected Goaltenders

Steve Racine (Jr) 3-1

3.06 GAA, .910 save %

The Michigan Wolverines are coming off a surprising 2-1 upset of 5th ranked Michigan Tech in the other semi-final game on Sunday. Steve Racine made his first start in net since a 6-2 loss to Michigan Tech on November 1. Playing without the services of defenseman Zach Werenski and forwards Dylan Larkin, Tyler Motte and JT Compher the Wolverines were badly outshot 41-21. Those four Wolverines are playing with the United States U-20 team at the World Junior Championships and will not be playing in the title game either.

Zach Hyman scored a third period power play goal to put the Wolverines into the title game. Hyman is the leading scorer for the Wolverines this season and will be relied upon heavily with the depleted roster. The Wolverines have a high goals per game average on the season but have been held to three goals in the last two games. Common opponent Boston College defeated the Wolverines 5-1 in the last game before the holiday break.

3 keys to Spartan success

  1. Discipline- Even with three forwards missing the Wolverines still have a dangerous power play, as it was the difference in their Sunday semi-final. The Spartans' penalty kill would be a top ten unit if not for a disastrous weekend against Minnesota, but the best penalty kill is to avoid penalties in the first place.
  2. Get to Racine- This will be just the 6th appearance for Steve Racine this season. His start yesterday over a healthy Zach Nagelvoort was surprising but clearly paid off for the Wolverines. While he was great in a 40 save effort, playing back-to-back games will be new to him this season and the Spartans have to find a way to shake his confidence. Look for constant traffic in front of the net and crashing the crease to throw Racine off.
  3. Continue the shot blocking- The Spartans blocked 20 shots in the Ferris State game, 14 by defenseman and 6 by shot blocking king Travis Walsh. The Wolverines are a talented offensive team so getting in the shooting lanes will be key and will help Jake Hildebrand tremendously. This is likely to be a low scoring game and the Spartans need to stick with what is familiar and shot blocking is their calling card.