Weekend Hockey Preview: Michigan Tech

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Michigan State and Michigan Tech have an interesting history. Lately, it has involved a lot of blown leads and overtime hockey. This weekend the Spartans welcome the Huskies to East Lansing for a two game series to kick off the month of November.

Location: Munn Ice Arena. East Lansing, Mich.

Dates and Times: Friday, Nov. 4 (7:05 p.m.), Saturday, Nov. 5 (7:05 p.m.)

TV: Comcast 900 (East Lansing/both games)

Radio: Spartan Sports Network

Team Comparison

Both of these teams stumbled out of the gate early this season. Tech started the season 1-3-0 and MSU started 0-4-0 before picking up a win last week over Princeton. The Huskies are coming off a sweep of Northern Michigan while the Spartans are fresh off a dominating victory against Princeton.

Michigan Tech is a very experienced, senior-laden squad. Senior forward Reid Sturos leads the Huskies in goals while defenseman Shane Hanna leads the team in assists. Furthermore, the team’s top three point producers are all defensemen. Needless to say, getting offense from the defense will be key to the Huskies’ success this weekend.

But the big story for Tech is the freshman between the pipes. Angus Redmond picked up his first career starts last weekend raking up a .946 save percentage and a 1.36 goals against average in the two wins. With senior netminder Matt Wintjes struggling it is likely that Michigan Tech coach Mel Pearson will turn to Redmond to continue his winning ways.

Michigan State however has started to find their groove as well. Sophomore forward Mason Appleton has found a whole new gear and is quickly becoming one of the best players on the Spartans roster. The Winnipeg Jets draft pick leads the Spartans in total scoring with a 1-4-5 line and has been playing with some very skilled linemates in freshmen Taro Hirose and Patrick Khodorenko.  Getting this “Youngblood Line” going offensively will be key to MSU’s success during the course of the season.

Defensively, the Spartans have settled into their young D-corps and while not as experienced as last year, they are definitely faster and have a much higher ceiling. Spartan coach Tom Anastos continues to stick with the dual goaltender system between junior Ed Minney and freshman John Lethemon. While neither of them have really struggled as of late Minney does seem to be the better of the two and it will be interesting to see if any goaltender can make a case to be the number one starter.

Stats

Goals Per Game: MSU- 2.4 (47th in NCAA) MTU- 2.5 (43rd in NCAA)

Goals Allowed Per Game: MSU- 4.00 (51st in NCAA) MTU- 2.90 (28th in NCAA)

Powerplay: MSU- .094 (51st in NCAA) MTU- .182 (25th in NCAA)

Penalty Kill: MSU- .786 (49th in NCAA) MTU- .806 (44th in NCAA)

Prediction

When you look at the stats of these two teams some of them are misleading, especially the GAA. Both teams have struggled early and are now starting to find their groove. MSU’s powerplay and tightened up and has been perfect for three straight games. Likewise Tech’s power play was deadly last weekend with four of the Huskies’ six goals coming on the man advantage.

The last five meetings between these two teams have gone to overtime. That trend will continue this weekend as both the Spartans and Huskies will fight to two ties with each winning a shootout to feel good about themselves. It will make for some great television at the very least.

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