Spartans take on Bulldogs on break from Big Ten play


MSU forward Jeremy Davidson (11) and teammates celebrate after scoring a goal in the Spartans’ 3-1 win over Miami (OH) on Oct. 16, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Cameron McClarren, Hockey Beat Reporter

EAST LANSING — The Michigan State Spartans (4-5-1, 1-3-0 Big Ten) will take a break from Big Ten play this week when they take on the Ferris State Bulldogs (4-6-0, 2-2-0 CCHA) in a home-and-home series. Thursday night’s meeting will be the first time the two teams have faced each other since the 2019 Great Lakes Invitational in what was a 5-2 victory for the Spartans. 

Michigan State is coming off being swept by in-state rival Michigan last weekend. The Spartans traveled to Yost Ice Arena and found themselves down 2-0 halfway through the first period against the No. 3-ranked team in the country. Senior defenseman Cole Krygier and senior forward Mitchell Mattson would score for the Spartans, but multi-goal games from top-five draft picks, Wolverines Luke Hughes and Matty Beniers, would prove to be too much for the Spartans as they fell 7-2. 

MSU defenseman Cole Krygier skates during a scrimmage/ Photo Credit: MSU Athletic Communications

Saturday night’s matchup at Munn Ice Arena was a complete turnaround performance from the previous night. Though the Spartans found themselves in a 3-0 deficit heading into first intermission, Michigan State would climb back with two goals in five minutes between the second and third period, making it a one-shot hockey game with 17 minutes left in regulation. The Spartans would outshoot Michigan seven to three in the final frame, but could not find the tying goal as they lost their third game in a row, 3-2.

Ferris State is coming off a surprise split against Minnesota State, beating the then No. 2 team in the nation 2-1 on Friday, before falling to the Mavericks 5-1 on Saturday. Freshman Bradley Marek scored both goals for the Bulldogs on Friday, including the eventual game-winning goal on the power-play as Ferris State handed the Mavericks their first conference loss. Minnesota State, however, would follow up the loss by scoring five-consecutive goals, including three in the second period, to take a split from Ferris State in Big Rapids. 

The Spartans lead the all-time series 75-38-15, including winning records both at Munn Ice Arena and in Big Rapids. Michigan State has also won seven out of the past 10 meetings dating back to October 2014. Both teams are at or near the bottom of their respective conferences in goals scored and goals allowed per game. The clear advantage for the Spartans rests in the special teams category, where Michigan State ranks 20th nationally in power-play percentage (22.6%), despite not capitalizing on any of the five power-play opportunities it had against Michigan. 

MSU forward Griffin Loughran looks for the puck in the Spartans’ 3-1 win over Miami (OH) on Oct. 16, 2021/ Photo Credit: Sarah Smith/WDBM

Ferris State wins if…

…it takes a lead heading into the first intermission. Michigan State is 1-3-1 this year when trailing after the first period and 1-4-0 when the opponent scores first. If Ferris State can get on the Spartans early, especially on Thursday in East Lansing, it will be in good shape to take at least one game from this series. 

Michigan State wins if…

…it controls the neutral zone. Part of what gave the Spartans some success last Saturday was their ability to force turnovers and control the play between the blue lines. The Spartans had many self-inflicted errors resulting from bad line changes and turnovers that cost them against Michigan both nights, but their play in the final 40 minutes against the Wolverines showed they can be dominant in the neutral zone if they want. If the Spartans can hem the Bulldogs in their own zone and win the turnover battle at center ice, they should be in good position to win a few games this week. 

Puck drop for Thursday’s game in East Lansing is set for 7:00 p.m., and Saturday’s game in Big Rapids is slated for 7:00 p.m.