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Full Hockey Schedule Analysis

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The Spartans' released their entire season schedule today. How does it shape up?

The North Dakota hockey team will visit East Lansing next season
The North Dakota hockey team will visit East Lansing next season
Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, I may have jumped the gun with my fanpost earlier about the B1G schedule being released. Michigan State hockey has now released their entire season schedule including a pretty fun looking out of conference schedule. I'll go ahead and take a peek at the entire schedule, and a small peak at who the Spartans will be battling on the ice in 2015-2016.

October

  • October 9-10: The Spartans will be participating in the Ice Breaker Tournament. Now, it's not really a tournament per se, more of an invitational, but let's move on. The Spartans will open the season against the Maine Black Bears in Portland, ME. Maine last season finished 10th in Hockey East, and they will be entering their 3rd season under head coach Red Gendron. The next night the Spartans will play Lake Superior State, who struggled last season under new head coach (and former Spartan forward) Damon Whitten.
  • October 16-17 @ Denver: This will be a huge test for the Spartans. Denver played itself to a 2 seed in the NCAA tournament, and saw their season end in the Regional final to eventual champion Providence. Denver will be without superstar Joey LaLeggia, now in professional hockey, but is a consistent performer in NCHC.
  • October 22-23 Lake Superior State: The Lakers will be 3 out of the first 6 games for the Spartans on the season. The Lakers were 8-28-2 last season, and anything less than two wins for the Spartans in these three games would be disappointing.
November
  • November 6-7 New Hampshire: The Wildcats will return to Munn Arena after the Spartans made a trip to the Granite state last season. The teams split that series, which was a part of an extremely disappointing season for UNH. This series will likely be included in the B1G-Hockey East Challenge.
  • November 13 @ Boston College: The Eagles were an awfully young team last season, and that lack of composure came about in the worst times for Jerry York's club. Credit to the Eagles they found a way to claw into the NCAA Tournament before getting steamrolled by Denver. As always this will be a mega talented team, and outside of Denver likely the biggest challenge for the Spartans on the out of conference slate. Also, a chance to remember this!
  • November 20-21 Michigan Tech: For the first time in forever (Frozen lyric count:1) the Huskies will be making their way to East Lansing. The Huskies returned to the NCAA Tournament last season, and have had a remarkable turn-around under Mel Pearson. They lost a ton of senior talent off of the team from last season, and some regression is likely this year. The Spartans will also see the Huskies later in the Great Lakes Invitational.
  • November 27, 29 North Dakota: Ok, this is my favorite game of the season that is played at Munn Arena. North Dakota coming to town is awesome. The No Mascots are the only team the Spartans play from last season's Frozen Four, and will guided by a new head coach as Dave Hakstol left to coach the Philadelphia Flyers. North Dakota elevated assistant Brad Berry to head coach so it will be interesting to see if any first-year coach hiccups are minimized.
December
  • December 5-6 @ Penn State: This year the Spartans open league play at Penn State ,who they beat in 3 of 4 games last season.
  • December 12-13 Wisconsin: The Badgers had a colossally bad season last year, and are replacing two assistant coaches. Between this series, and the series opener the Spartans have the chance to get a good start in league play.
  • December 19 @ Northeastern: The Spartans will stay in shape over the holiday break by traveling to Boston for the second time in the season. The Huskies were a .500 team last year at 16-16-4, and they should be a good barometer for where Michigan State fits nationally. A win on the road would be great to have heading into the GLI.
  • December 29-30 Michigan Tech, Michigan or Northern Michigan: The Spartans will play in the GLI once again, opening play against the Huskies. It also is the first chance for the Spartans to play arch-rival Michigan.
League Slate

  • The Spartans may play the Wolverines 3 straight games as they will play a home-and-home against the Wolverines after the GLI.
  • The last four series will present the Spartans with a great chance to get on a late season run as they will play Penn State at home, at Wisconsin, Minnesota at home, and Ohio State at home. The Spartans may have a chance to be playing for a championship or a first round bye on the last weekend of the season against a lesser talented Ohio State, rather than Michigan like it was this season.
Analysis

The out of conference slate this season is definitely an improvement for the Spartans. If they can get through there with some marque wins, the NCAA tournament will be in play. As last season showed the Spartans cannot rely on the league schedule for wins to beef their NCAA resume, so performing well out of conference is crucial.

Which series are you all looking forward to the most?