Weekend Hockey Preview is back for a new season as the Michigan State Spartans take on the UMass Minutemen Friday at 7 p.m.
Know Thy Enemy
The Minutemen are coming into this weekend’s contest at Munn with a regular season game already under their belts, losing 8-1 to Boston University.
The Minutemen return 16 letterwinners from last year’s squad including sophomore Steve Iacobellis, who notched 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) for UMass in the 2014 campaign.
Also returning this year is senior netminder Steve Mastalerz. Mastalerz posted a .907 save percentage and a 2.77 GAA last season for the Minutemen.
By the Numbers
The Minutemen and the Spartans are evenly matched in offensive output based on last year’s stats (MSU scored a total of 79 goals, UMass only 76). Furthermore, Michigan State’s returning leading point producer, junior captain Mike Ferrantino, has similar stats to Iacobellis (Ferrantino notched 20 points last season, Iacobellis had 21).
The major differences lie in goaltending and special teams. Junior Jake Hildebrand’s 2014 numbers (.933 Sv%, 2.15 GAA) are far better than Mastalerz’s (.907 Sv%, 2.77 GAA). However, UMass has the dominant numbers in both power-play (.220 for UMass to .159 for MSU) and penalty kill (.831 for UMass to .797 for MSU).
This series will likely be decided by defense and special teams. If the Spartans can limit the UMass opportunities in their own zone and stay out of the box, then they should leave this series with at least one win. If they can get their own power-play rolling as well, then they could get the sweep.
It was recently announced that Ferrantino won’t be the only Spartan wearing a letter. Sophomore Joe Cox, and juniors Travis Walsh and Justin Hoomaian were recently named alternate captains by head coach Tom Anastos.
“These three individuals are very representative of the emerging leadership on our team and have earned the confidence and trust of their teammates,” Anastos told msuspartans.com.
Michigan State plays UMass on Friday October 17 and on Saturday October 18. Both games start at 7:00 pm.
Jason Ruff is the host of Behind the Mask for Impact Sports
Photo: Jonathan Yales/Impact Sports