Michigan Hockey: Michigan State vs. Michigan — Preview
Michigan Icers Keep NCAA Hopes Alive, Face MSU This Weekend
What: #12 Michigan Wolverines (16-10-4) (8-6-2-1, 3rd) Vs. Michigan State Spartans (9-15-7) (3-7-6-4, 5th)
When: Friday 3/7 7:00 p.m. & Saturday 3/8 7:00 p.m. Yost Ice Arena (Fri) and Munn Ice Arena (East Lansing, Mi.)
TV/Radio: Comcast Local (Friday), FSD (Saturday) & The Michigan Hockey IMG Radio Network (1050 a.m. Al Randall, Bill Trainor) www.mgoblue.com for gametracker and streaming.
Michigan returns to home ice for their only meeting with MSU at Yost this season. They will make their second trip to Munn Arena for the rematch on Saturday night. The Wolverines are coming off a similar home and home with OSU where they tied (and lost the shootout) at home before traveling last Sunday to Columbus and nipped the Buckeyes 4-3. The power play scored on 3 of their 4 attempts to secure the win, including the winner by Phil DiGiuseppe.
The Spartans are trying to overtake the Buckeyes for fourth place while Michigan is chasing Wisconsin for second place currently. Neither team has played real consistent hockey in the second half of the season. This match-up should be a battle of two teams struggling for offense. The Spartans are 54th in offense netting just 2.10 goals per game. Michigan is 25th at 2.93 GPG. MSU is a defensive minded club, sacrificing that offense and winning on tight defensive struggles- T12th in the country allowing 2.35 GPG. Michigan has not found the same balance, yielding 2.57 GPG (19th).
The Wolverines have an edge on their PP which is 16th (19.83%) while the Spartans are 48th on the penalty kill at 79.3%. Similarly, Michigan has improved their PK, now 30th, at 82.4% conversion. MSU is 55th on the PP, clicking 12.6% of the time.
MSU is disciplined, though only taking an average of 10 minutes of penalties per game, versus Michigan’s 11 minutes.
The goal for the Spartans, especially at Yost, is to bottle up the Michigan attack starting with a three man forecheck and stifling neutral zone pressure. They will want to control the tempo and keep the offense to the outside of junior netminder Jake Hildebrand (8-13-7, 2.22 GAA, .931 save %). Hildebrand is 15th in the nation in goals against average.
Michigan will counter will an offense that will try to possess the puck instead of dumping and chasing. The biggest advantage is their speed, which they will try to utilize with stretch passes. Michigan’s Achilles has been their turnovers. If they get impatient, either goalie Zach Nagelvoort (10-7-3, 2.24 GAA, .927 save %) or Steve Racine (6-3-1, 2.97 GAA, .914 save %) will get challenged.
The Wolverines are led by freshman JT Compher (11-17-28), sophomore Andrew Copp (13-13-26), junior Alex Guptill (11-11-22) and a trio of forwards at 18 points each. In contrast, the Spartans are led by a trio of seniors: Greg Wolfe (11-12-23), Lee Reimer (7-11-18) and Jake Chelios (2-16-18). Junior Matt Berry (6-7-13) and sophomore Michael Ferrantino (8-9-17) round out the top pointsmakers.
Look for two close contests as Michigan fights to remain in NCAA tourney contention, while the Spartans are battling for B1G Ten standings positioning.
– Michigan defender and captain Mac Bennett is still listed as week to week and will be a game time decision after suffering an upper body injury against Penn State. Freshman Tyler Motte was held out of the lineup last Sunday after coming down with the flu.
– Poll watch: Michigan sits at the #12 spot after taking four of six points from OSU. Minnesota climbed back to the #1 spot with a sweep of PSU combined with BC dropping a game to Notre Dame. The Badgers climbed up to #6 and are looking to continue their march towards a possible #1 seed in the NCAA tourney.
– Michigan will return home next weekend for their final games at Yost this season against Minnesota. We will wish goodbye and good luck to Mac Bennett, Derek DeBlois, Luke Moffatt and Kevin Clare as they will graduate.
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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — YostMeister
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