The Spartans and Wolverines will meet up in Chicago at Soldier Field for their 4th outdoor game in series history, with the series currently standing at 1-1-1. After playing games in Spartan Stadium, The Big House and Comerica Park the arch-enemies will now take the rivalry to Illinois, only the second time in history the two have played outside the state of Michigan. The game is a part of the Coyote Hockey City Classic, a double-header which features former CCHA compatriots Western Michigan and Miami.
Not much has changed since these two teams last met, seeing as they are the last opponents' for each other. Last Friday the Spartans played conservative, defensive hockey and slowed down the Michigan offense in a 2-1 victory. So, as far as previews go, there is not much different for this weekend's game. Zach Hyman (16G, 20A) and Dylan Larkin (10G, 20A) are still the most frightening forward duo in the country. Larkin, a Detroit Red Wings prospect, scored a beautiful power play goal in the last contest to assure Michigan not being shutout. Michigan still has a young, talented defense corp which can be boom or bust. Michigan State is still a team that doesn't score often, but has a hot goaltender in Jake Hildebrand and will look to slow the game down to their capabilities.
This game being outside will be interesting as to how it effects play. SBN College Hockey did a great weather report for tomorrow and mentioned it's possible impacts on the game. There is a 30% chance of rain during the Spartans' game which would make for awful playing conditions and while being a pain for both teams, would probably hamper the Wolverines' up-tempo hockey more than it would the Spartans. There is a slight wind in the broadcast which may mean split periods where the offenses' alternate ends to even out time skating into the wind. Consider hampering the Michigan offense Dave Brandon's one last match lit to burn the athletic department in Ann Arbor.
Time/TV: 8:00 PM EST, Big Ten Network
Radio: Spartan Sports Network
|Michigan State Spartans
||Stats Match-Up (National Rank)
||#14 Michigan Wolverines
|13-of-86 15.12% (41)
||Power Play Percentage
||21-of-84 25.00% (3)
|69-of-80 86.2% (15)
||Penalty Kill Percentage
||63-of-79 79.7% (44)
|Matt Berry (Sr) 8G, 8A 16pts
||Zach Hyman 16G, 20A 36pts
Jake Hildebrand (Jr) 10-11-2
2.35 GAA, .920 save %
Zach Nagelvoort 9-7-0
2.51 GAA, .910 save %
3 Keys for Spartan Success
Depth Contributions-In the 2-1 victory last weekend, the difference was a goal from Matt DeBlouw in the third period. If the Spartans are to get a 2nd win a row over the Wolverines getting contributions from a DeBlouw, Brent Darnell or Ryan Keller may be key. The Wolverines easily match the Spartans' top two lines so lower lines need to be on their game.
- Deal with conditions the best- Outdoor games are not ideal. Passing will not be as crisp, the puck will bounce, the boards are not the same and even the visuals of having all that space between the glass and fans can effect players and goaltenders. Whichever team adapts to the less than perfect conditions the best is set up for success.
- Play your game- Michigan media and fans have done plenty of stone throwing at Michigan State for their boring defensive style since the win last weekend. Which is fair as MSU plays an uber defensive style with not much high end offensive talent. But you know what, with this personnel that is what Michigan State has to do to win games. Look for the Spartans to continue to block shots and look to bounce on any Michigan mistakes to win a low scoring game. If they try to get in a shootout Michigan will embarrass them like the Big Chill at The Big House.
Around the B1G
Wisconsin is playing a series at Penn State this weekend looking to try and climb out of the basement after taking 2 of a possible 6 points from Minnesota last weekend. Ohio State is playing a series at Minnesota.
|Team||Overall Record (League)||Points|
|1. Michigan Wolverines||15-8-0 (7-2-0)||21|
|2. Michigan State Spartans||10-11-2 (4-3-2-2)||16|
|3. Penn State Nittany Lions||13-7-4 (5-2-1)||16|
|4. Minnesota Golden Gophers||12-9-3 (3-2-3)||12|
|5. Ohio State Buckeyes||7-13-2 (2-6-0)||6|
|6. Wisconsin Badgers||2-16-4 (0-6-2-2)||4|
Extra pucks in the bag: As some of you all know, I have been working an extra job at the Grand Rapids Griffins (Grad school y'all). Well I will be working there tomorrow, so sorry no live tweeting but I will have the recap up once I rewatch the game late night. What I wanted to make special mention of is what will be going on in Grand Rapids at 1:30 for you West Michigan Spartans. Van Andel Arena and the Griffins are hosting a game between Grandville High School and Detroit Catholic Central to benefit the Ryan Fischer Scholarship Fund. For those who don't know Ryan Fischer was the captain of the Grandville High School hockey team who died suddenly in his sleep, the night he lead his team to a regional championship. His teammates woke up the next day, heard the news and decided to play the state semi-final that day, across the state against the DCC Shamrocks. Grandville lost that game to the eventual state champs but the best moment was after the final horn. The Grandville players formed a prayer circle in their crease and instead of celebrating, the DCC players skated across the ice and wrapped their arms around their hockey brothers. It was a touching moment which is included in the video posted below.
Ryan was an exceptional kid. He had already been accepted into West Point and the Naval Academy and was going to attend one of the two schools this past fall. He was taken too soon but his spirit is very much alive where I live in Grand Rapids. In fact, the rink I play at every Wednesday night at is the home of the Grandville Bulldogs. It now features a Fischer #11 banner, and as I looked up at it 3 nights ago, I knew I wanted to use this space to mention him. Thanks to those who read this and I promise just MSU hockey from here on out. If you can make it tomorrow to Van Andel, tickets are just $15 available at the box office and the Griffins website. Thanks again guys and Go Green!
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I want to treat this preview as a stream to hang out in during the game. Be sure to comment often on this Hate Day on Ice! Also be sure to follow me on twitter @Jeremy_Dewar. Go Green! Go White!